Washington – If all victims of school bullying tend to get lower grades, the effects are even worse on high achieving black and Hispanic students, new research shows.
The study was presented Tuesday at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Las Vegas.
"Although academic achievement is largely influenced by family background and school characteristics, our study suggests that the experience of being bullied also influences students' grades," lead author Lisa M. Williams, a doctoral student in sociology at Ohio State University, said.
Williams and co-author Anthony A. Peguero, an assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Tech, conclude that "bullying has implications for achievement regardless of racial and ethnic background, but seems to be especially detrimental for subsets of certain racial and ethnic groups."
Their analysis was made using representative national data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002, which asked students if they suffered school bullying during the 2001-2002 school year when they were in 10th grade.
Williams and Peguero compared the grade-point averages of the participants in the study in 9th grade, before suffering bullying, with the results obtained by the same group of students in the 2003-2004 school year, when they were in 12th grade.
"(T)he most striking aspect of the study is the considerable negative effect bullying has on the GPAs of high achieving black and Latino students," the authors said.
They found that black students who had obtained a GPA of 3.5 in 9th grade and were bullied in the 10th had a GPA 0.3 points lower in the 12th grade.
But the effect of intimidation is even greater in the case of Latinos, since those that had achieved a 3.5 GPA in 9th grade and were bullied the following year, saw their GPAs drop 0.5 points in 12th grade.
In comparison, white students in the same situation saw their GPAs drop a negligible 0.03 points.
"Stereotypes about black and Latino youth suggest that they perform poorly in school. High achieving blacks and Latinos who do not conform to these stereotypes may be especially vulnerable to the effect bullying has on grades," Williams said.
Williams added that policy-makers and educators should think about the effect intimidation has on student performance and urged them to invest resources in protecting students, which, according to the study, would have positive effects on their grades, and in particular on the achievements of racial and ethnic minorities.
The sample used in the study consisted of 9,590 students from 580 schools and included 1,150 Asian Americans, 1,360 African Americans, 1,470 Latinos and 5,610 whites.