Bullying affects the whole school experience

Nov. 28, 2017—Bullying damages how students feel about their school, a new study suggests . Research shows that being bullied changes a student’s school experience in general.

The study measured how three forms of victimization affected school climate at 12 Vermont middle and high schools. Experiencing bullying, cyberbullying or harassment was linked to students feeling they weren't safe, didn't belong and weren't treated fairly at school.

How it makes school feel

In the study, about 43 percent of the students reported experiencing at least one of the forms of victimization. Bullying was highest at about 32 percent, followed by cyberbullying (about 22 percent). Approximately 16 percent of the students said they'd been harassed.

The kids who reported being a victim more often were more likely to also say they were doing poorly in school.

The study found that female and transgender students most often experienced these forms of aggression. Students who identified as multiracial or other also reported being targeted more often.

The researchers argued that these types of bullying could damage the school's climate, affecting students' educational out comes.

A community problem

In order to improve a school's climate, the focus should be on decreasing victimization and supporting the social and emotional safety of all students, the researchers said.

The study authors also encouraged programs to help kids think about why they perceive certain groups the way they do. Victims are often targeted because certain identities aren't seen as socially acceptable.

The study was published in the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma.

What can parents do?

While policymakers look for ways to improve school climate, parents can help too. Talk to your child about bullying even if you don't think he or she is a bully or a victim. Ask questions about how school is going, how he or she feels about others at school, and if anyone at school is bullied.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips for parents:

  • Teach your child when and how to ask an adult for help.
  • Encourage friendships with other children. Loners are easier targets for bullies.
  • Find activities that interest your child. Gaining confidence can have a positive effect on how your child relates to others.
  • Alert school officials to a problem. Then work on the solution together.

You can learn more about bullying and its effects by taking this quiz.