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New Survey Connects Bullying to High School Dropout Rates - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

New Survey Connects Bullying to High School Dropout Rates

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Bullying and teasing in schools can have a variety of outcomes. On Monday, a new report from the University of Virginia says that one of those outcomes is lower graduation rates.

The study shows the more bullying a school has, the more students are dropping out. Researchers say this report is a wake-up call to schools that bullying has a significant affect on academic achievement.

Dewey Cornell, the survey's director, said, "Bullying and teasing really is more important than we had previously recognized for academic outcomes in schools."

Cornell and his team at UVA surveyed 7,000 Virginia ninth grade students and their teachers about the bullying climate at their school.

"How much bullying is going on, how much teasing is going on, whether students feel put down, disrespected, or whether they feel supported or encouraged by their teachers for example," said Cornell.

Four years later, they found that schools with high levels of teasing and bullying had dropout rates that were 29 percent higher than the state average. Schools with low levels of bullying and teasing had much better dropout rates, 28 percent lower than the state average.

Albemarle High School is a perfect example of the trend. The school has a student-run bullying prevention group called "Stop One Save One".

Albemarle County High School student Danielle Horridge said, "We've sort of decided to head up the bullying prevention effort at Albemarle and more than that, just sort of encouraging acceptance of peers and safety and making everyone want to be at Albemarle every day."

Albemarle has a dropout rate that is 35 percent lower than the state average.

Cornell said, "I think it's great that throughout Virginia we're seeing student groups form their own groups to reduce bullying, to improve the school climate, to improve student-teacher relationships. And this survey will be one tool that they can use to chart improvements over time in their school climate."

Starting this spring, Cornell and his team are going to measure bullying and give the reports to the schools. They hope that moving forward this can serve as a tool for bullying prevention in Virginia.

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