School climate, peer victimization, and academic achievement: Results from a multi-informant study.
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School-level school climate was examined in relation to self-reported peer victimization and teacher-rated academic achievement (grade point average; GPA). Participants included a sample of 1,023 fifth-grade children nested within 50 schools. Associations between peer victimization, school climate, and GPA were examined using multilevel modeling, with school climate as a contextual variable. Boys and girls reported no differences in victimization by their peers, although boys had lower GPAs than girls. Peer victimization was related to lower GPA and to a poorer perception of school climate (individual-level), which was also associated with lower GPA. Results of multilevel analyses revealed that peer victimization was again negatively associated with GPA, and that lower school-level climate was associated with lower GPA. Although no moderating effects of school-level school climate or sex were observed, the relation between peer victimization and GPA remained significant after taking into account (a) school-level climate scores, (b) individual variability in school-climate scores, and (c) several covariates--ethnicity, absenteeism, household income, parental education, percentage of minority students, type of school, and bullying perpetration. These findings underscore the importance of a positive school climate for academic success and viewing school climate as a fundamental collective school outcome. Results also speak to the importance of viewing peer victimization as being harmfully linked to students' academic performance.
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