New Study: Bullying affects students GPAs, effect most significant for high-achieving black, Latino students

A new study, presented Tuesday morning at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting in Las Vegas shows that bullying does more harm than pure psychological damage on high school students.

According to the study, students who were bullied in 10th grade experience an average GPA drop of .049 points (on a 4.0 scale) between the time they are bullied and 12th grade. But the effects are even greater on high-achieving Latino and black students. The study found that black students who had a 3.5 GPA in ninth grade, and were bullied in 10th grade experienced a .3 point decrease in their 12th grade GPAs, which came in at a 3.2.

The effect was even more significant for Latino students. The study found that Latino students with a 3.5 GPA in ninth grade who were bullied in 10th grade experienced a GPA slide of 0.5 points, lowering their overall average to 3.0 in 12th grade. The study found that white students with a ninth grade GPA of 3.5 who were bullied in 10th grade experienced a 0.03 point slip between ninth and 12th grade.

“Stereotypes about black and Latino youth suggest that they perform poorly in school,” study author Lisa M. Williams said in a statement released Tuesday by the American Sociological Association. “High achieving blacks and Latinos who do not conform to these stereotypes may be especially vulnerable to the effect bullying has on grades.”

The study, “The Impact of School Bullying on Racial/Ethnic Achievement” was conducted by Williams, a doctoral student at Ohio State University and Anthony A. Peguero, a sociology professor at Virginia Tech. The pair used data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, which asked students whether they were bullied in the 2001-2002 school year, during which they were in 10th grade. Williams and Peguero compared participants GPAs in ninth grade, before they were bullied, with their 12th grade GPAs, after the bullying took place.

It’s one more layer to the bullying onion, which the education reporters at Hearst Connecticut Newspapers have been peeling back over the last several months as we work on our Speak Out campaign. Do you have a story to share with Maggie about bullying of this type or any other? Please email

Maggie Gordon