Being subjected to bullying has a negative effect on a child's personality, but also on their grades, a new study from experts at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) shows.
The conclusions apply especially to children who are bullied constantly, and not only during school.
Kids nowadays have nearly limitless access to computers and cell phones, which means that they can be bullied by others with little effort.
In the old days, children who were targeted by bullies were only abused during school hours, but had time to recover while they were at home. Now, they are never left alone.
The researchers say that this constant battering is one of the main reasons why kids tend to commit suicide more these days than ever before.
The UCLA team published the conclusions of its studies in the latest issue of the esteemed scientific Journal of Early Adolescence, which deals with trends in children's academic performance and peer relationships.
The paper also reveals that children who are constantly bullied tend to perform worse in school, receiving on average grades that are a lot lower than those of their not-bullied peers.
Investigations experts at UCLA covered 11 Los Angeles–area public middle schools, and selected about 2,300 students for their research. Children were considered to be bullied if they were subjected to either physical or verbal abuse, or if they were the subject of nasty rumors.
“We cannot address low achievement in school while ignoring bullying, because the two are frequently linked,” says UCLA professor of psychology Jaana Juvonen, the lead author of the journal entry.
“Students who are repeatedly bullied receive poorer grades and participate less in class discussions. Some students may get mislabeled as low achievers because they do not want to speak up in class for fear of getting bullied,” she adds.
“Teachers can misinterpret their silence, thinking that these students are not motivated to learn,” explains Juvonen, who is also a professor in the UCLA developmental psychology program.
“But the link between bullying and achievement can work both ways. The students who are doing poorly are at higher risk for getting bullied, and any student who gets bullied may become a low achiever,” the expert writes in the paper.
“Whether bullying happens on school grounds or after school hours on the Internet, it can paralyze students from concentrating on academics,” she concludes.