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02-03 Children who are bullied perform poorly in school, study says

Posted in Children, Self-esteem

Children who are bullied perform poorly in school, study says

Social isolation due to bullying can affect a child’s self-esteem, confidence and academic performance. Bullying always affects the child emotionally.

Children who are bullied might not want to attend school or might get distracted even when they are present at school. This can affect their attention and diminish their concentration level and academic performance, says a recent study, published in the Journal of Educational Psychology in January 2017.

The research, led by Gary W. Ladd, Ed.D., a professor of psychology at Arizona State University, followed several hundred U.S. children from kindergarten through high school and learned that an astonishing 25 percent of them reported chronic bullying through their school years.

Ladd said, “The good news is that it goes down. The longer kids stay in school, the less likely it is that they will be victimized.” When they reached high school, bullying seemed to decline.

As part of the study that began in 1992, Ladd and his fellow researchers recruited 383 students from kindergarten, including 190 boys and 193 girls. The subjects attended several public schools, most of them in Illinois. The team used teacher evaluations and standardized test scores to measure each child’s feelings of victimization, enthusiasm for school, academic esteem and performance.

Once a year, in case of bullying, the children were asked to describe the incident and whether they had been hit, picked on or verbally abused. The researchers used a scale of five to one, one signifying “almost never” and five indicating “almost always.” Ladd’s study was part of a larger study funded by the National Institutes of Health, analyzing children’s social, psychological and academic adjustment.

Approximately 25 percent children came from lower income families, those earning $20,000 or less annually, and 39 percent from middle- to high-income families, those earning more than $50,000 annually. The others belonged to families with an income between the two figures.

Approximately 77 percent of the children were white, 18 percent African-American, and the remainder Hispanic, biracial or from other backgrounds. Although the study began in Illinois five years ago, the participants were in 24 states that Ladd described as an indication of the mobility of the American people.

Although the study revealed a decline in the frequency and prevalence of bullying as the children became older, subtypes showed differences in the bullying and the consequences.

Fear and apprehension prevent children from focusing on schoolwork

About a third of the children reported little or no bullying. Over time, about 26 percent experienced a decrease in bullying. The academic scores of both these groups were almost the same, which suggested that it was possible for children to bounce back when bullying dwindled. Ladd noted that some children had the ability to become less of a target as they moved through school, but the researchers could not explain why.

During the study, 24 percent of the children experienced chronic levels of bullying. These students showed lower academic achievement, a dislike for school with low confidence in their ability to excel academically. Approximately 18 percent of the children endured moderate bullying that worsened with time. In general, boys were more likely to be bullied compared to girls.

For a child being bullied, fear and apprehension prevented them from focusing on schoolwork. Some participants stated that they spent time thinking about what might happen to them after school.

During the course of the study, cyberbullying was not happening at the beginning and so was not monitored. But Ladd’s colleagues reported that children being bullied at school were also likely to be cyberbullied. Many children feel so uncomfortable that they do not report the bullying to their parents or teachers.

Seeking treatment

Sovereign Health has treatment centers in many locations, including Rancho San Diego, California, where we have developed programs for adolescents and teens. Our expert therapists address mental health disorders associated with bullying with individual and group therapy. Any underlying condition is treated concurrently to achieve a successful outcome. Recreational therapy and fun outings are also a part of the treatment. Call our 24/7 helpline for further information.

About the author

Veronica McNamara is a content writer for Sovereign Health. She is a former registered nurse who enjoys writing about the causes and treatment of addictions and behavioral health disorders. She is a proponent of further public education on the subject of mental illness, which, unfortunately, still bears an unwarranted stigma. For more information and other inquiries on this article, contact the author at

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