LOS ANGELES, Aug. 24 (UPI) — Children who are bullied at school do worse academically and once children are labeled as “dumb” they get bullied even more, U.S. researchers found.
Lead author Jaana Juvonen, a University of California, Los Angeles, professor of psychology, says the study involved some 2,300 students in 11 Los Angeles-area public middle schools and their teachers. The students were asked to rate on a four-point scale whether they get bullied and to list which of their classmate were bullied the most — physically, verbally and as the subject of nasty rumors. The teachers were asked about academic performance.
The study, published in a special issue of the Journal of Early Adolescence, finds students who were rated the most-bullied performed substantially worse academically than their peers.
“Instruction cannot be effective unless the students are ready to learn, and that includes not being fearful of raising your hand in class and speaking up,” Juvonen says in a statement. “Once students get labeled as ‘dumb,’ they get picked on and perform even worse; there’s a downward cycle that we need to stop.”
Reducing bullying is not just a matter of dealing with a few aggressive students — the research team’s prior findings show that in middle school, bullies are considered “cool’ by their classmates.
The high social status of bullies promotes a “norm of meanness” that affects millions of students, Juvonen says.
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