Victims of bullying often suffer academically, and this is particularly true for high achieving black and Latino students, according to new research to be presented at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.
The study relies on nationally representative data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS), which, among other things, asked students whether they were bullied during the 2001-2002 academic year, when they were in 10th grade. Williams and her co-author, Anthony A. Peguero, a sociology professor at Virginia Tech, compared the academic achievement (the GPAs) of ELS participants in 9th grade, before the bullying occurred, with their academic achievement during the 2003-2004 school year, when they were in 12th grade. The scale for GPA ranges from zero (lowest) to four (highest). Their sample consisted of 9,590 students in 580 schools, including 1,150 Asians, 1,360 blacks, 1,470 Latinos, and 5,610 whites. Racial and ethnic minorities are oversampled in ELS to obtain a sufficient representation for statistical analysis.
According to the study, students who were bullied in the 10th grade experienced a .049 points decrease in 12th grade GPA. “This effect, though small, is highly significant and suggests that bullying negatively affects GPA even after factoring in previous grades, family background, and school characteristics often associated with achievement, which are all variables the study controls for,” Williams said.