Liz Dwyer: Want to Boost Minority Achievement? End School Bullying – Education – GOOD

Want to Boost Minority Achievement? End School Bullying

Liz Dwyer

Education Editor

It’s no secret that victims of school bullying have a tough time keeping up their grades. After all, thanks to all that taunting and name-calling, almost 160,000 children stay home from school every day because they’re afraid to show up. Now, a study released Tuesday concludes that bullying has an even greater negative impact on the GPAs of black and Latino students than those of their white peers.

Lisa Williams, a doctoral student in sociology at The Ohio State University, and Anthony Peguero, a sociology professor at Virginia Tech, used national bullying data as well as survey results from 9,590 students attending 580 schools nationwide for their study, which they presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. They found that black high school freshmen earning 3.5 grade point averages saw their grades drop to a 3.2 average by senior year as a result of bullying.

The effect of bullying was even worse for Latino students. Freshman with 3.5 GPAs who were bullied as sophomores ended high school with a 3.0 average. In comparison, high-achieving white freshman who experienced bullying only saw their GPAs decrease from 3.5 to 3.47.

Why does bullying effect high achieving black and Latino students so disproportionately? “Stereotypes about black and Latino youth suggest that they perform poorly in school,” Williams says. When students from those backgrounds “do not conform to these stereotypes,” they end up being “especially vulnerable to the effect bullying has on grades.”

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