Students who repeat a grade experience more bullying, study finds

Journal Reference:

  1. Qiguo Lian, Chunyan Yu, Xiaowen Tu, Minglin Deng, Tongjie Wang, Qiru Su, Xiayun Zuo. Grade repetition and bullying victimization in adolescents: A global cross-sectional study of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) data from 2018. PLOS Medicine, 2021; 18 (11): e1003846 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003846

Addressing and preventing school violence, including bullying, is a specific target of the United National Sustainable Development Goals. Few studies involving large samples have examined the association between grade repetition and bullying victimization. In the new study, researchers used data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PIA) 2018, which included information on 465,146 students aged 15 and 16 from 74 countries/economies.

Overall, 12.25% of included students had repeated a grade and 30.32% of students reported having experienced bullying at least a few times a month during the previous year. Students who had repeated a grade were more likely to have been the victim of bullying compared to their peers (OR 95% CI 1.32-1.52, p

The authors note that while the findings support a relationship between the experiences of repeating a grade and bullying victimization, the cross-sectional study cannot determine if such a relationship is causal, or the direction of the relationship. The study was also limited to adolescents who were attending school at the time the survey was administered, and the measures of bullying experiences and grade repetition were self-reported.

“These results are of great concern for parents, teachers, principals, and policymakers at different levels, especially in countries where grade repetition is particularly prevalent,” the authors say. “Grade repetition is associated with bullying victimization in both boys and girls.”

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Students who repeat a grade experience more bullying, study finds