Key Questions

1. To what extent do some high schools reduce the fear of bullying relative to others?

2. What is the effect of attending a high school that reduces the fear of bullying on students’ longer-term educational outcomes?

3. What school-level policies and practices predict a reduction in the fear of bullying?


This research helps school communities and policymakers better understand the cost of bullying and what type of school policies and practices can help to address it. The study used administrative data from 78,951 first-time ninth-graders in Chicago Public Schools from school years 2013–14 to 2016–17, including student enrollment, attendance, disciplinary incidents, grade progression, dropouts and graduation, and 5Essentials Survey data, including supplemental measures.

  • Policymakers can use these findings to identify schools that increase or reduce the fear of bullying and extend resources accordingly.
  • School teams in Illinois can use these insights to dig into their annual 5Essentials Survey data to uncover which aspects of their school environment are strengths on which to build, and which aspects would benefit from additional attention and improvement to reduce and prevent bullying and help their students feel safer.

Key Findings

  • Some high schools in Chicago reduced the fear of bullying relative to students’ previous experiences, while others increased it. School differences were especially pronounced for students with a history of victimization.
  • Students’ graduation rates were also higher if they attended a school that reduced the fear of bullying.
  • The effects on victimization and educational attainment were more pronounced among students who feared bullying in the past.
  • Schools that scored higher on the 5Essentials Survey, and especially schools with more Supportive Environments, were more likely to reduce students’ fear of bullying.