The impact of bullying on learning and socialisation in school in Latin America

22 November 2017

A recently published article using the Third Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study (TERCE) learning survey of 2013 provides new evidence on the impact of bullying on learning for 15 Latin American countries. The analysis focuses on sixth grade students and two types of bullying: physical and psychological. Because bullying does not only affect cognitive achievements but also non-cognitive outcomes, the study also looked at whether being bullied translates into lower degree of socialisation and lower sense of belonging within schools.

For the whole region, bullying is associated with lower achievement of around 10 fewer points in math and reading tests, although this negative effect varies across countries.

The study also found that not only the standard measure of school violence (i.e., physical bullying) is harmful to learning, but also psychological bullying can be equally damaging. The analysis highlights that psychological bullying has more harmful consequences on learning than physical bullying.  For instance, physical bullying leads to 15 points less in the math test in Argentina while psychological bullying is associated with negative effects of around 20 points in the same test. A similar trend is seen in Chile where physical bullying and psychological bullying lead to 5 points and 10 points less respectively in the math test scores.

Another prominent finding from the study is that students who were victims of psychological bullying are negatively affected in their chances of reaching acceptable degrees of socialisation or acceptance within schools (see Figure 1). The analysis suggests that policies related to the reduction of effects of bullying should be an important part of improving educational quality in Latin American countries.


As the world moves forward on the implementation of the Education 2030 Agenda, UNESCO is committed to monitoring the progress towards the achievement of Target 4.a.2 focusing on School based Violence and Bullying. UNESCO has published its School Violence and Bullying Global Status Report as the reference for prognosis and response framework.

This article was prepared based on the contribution made by Marcos Delprato, Kwame Akyeampong and Máiréad Dunne (Centre from the Centre for International Education (CIE), University of Sussex, UK), at the request of UNESCO to make available data evidence on the SDG Target 4.a.2. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and should not be attributed to UNESCO.