Bullied kids suffer academically, too, study says

January 30, 2017
in Kids

(CNN)Bullying isn't just about physical violence or emotional pain -- it can impact kids' educations, too. Kids bullied their entire school career have declining test scores, a growing dislike of school and failing confidence in their abilities, say the authors of a study published Monday in the Journal of Educational Psychology. Researchers tracked several hundred children in the United States from kindergarten through 12th grade, and found nearly a quarter experienced chronic bullying through their school years. "The good news is that it goes down. The longer kids stay in school, the less likely it is that they will be victimized," said Gary W. Ladd, professor of psychology at Arizona State University, who led the study. Ladd wondered about the bullied kids who said "they didn't like school and didn't want to go there." "The majority of research done on bullying and victimization addresses children's psychological and health adjustment," Ladd said. But when it comes to understanding their school achievement, there wasn't much out there,leading him and his colleagues to investigate. In 1992, Ladd and his colleagues enlisted 383 kindergarteners -- 190 boys, 193 girls -- into their study. The participants attended various public schools, mostly in Illinois. The team then frequently assessed each child's feelings of victimization, enthusiasm for school, academic esteem and performance via teacher evaluations and standardized test scores. Among the assessments were annual surveys in which the children described their experiences with bullying, addressing whether they had been hit, picked on, or verbally abused by other kids. Frequency was measured on a scale of one, meaning "almost never," to five, meaning "almost always." The study is part of a larger investigation of children's social, psychological and academic adjustment funded by the National Institutes of Health. Nearly one-quarter of the children came from families with low annual incomes ($20,000 or less) and 39% from middle to high incomes (more than $50,000), with the remaining students, about a third, from the middle level in between these two extremes. Approximately 77% of the children were white, 18% African-American, while the remainder had Hispanic, biracial or other ethnic backgrounds. Though the study began largely in Illinois, by the fifth year, participants had spread to 24 states, which Ludd noted as evidence of the "mobility of the American population, especially in the rust belt area." The new study found that both the prevalence and frequency of victimization declined over the years of schooling, but they also identified subtypes revealing differences in both...

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