The stereotypical high-achieving gifted student is no longer reminiscent of a character out of Revenge of the Nerds. In that movie, the academically gifted students were teased and bullied mercilessly. But in real life, gifted students blend in seamlessly with their peers. However, with all of the research available on the increasing problem of bullying, few studies have been conducted to determine if gifted students are more vulnerable to bullying because of their academic differences. The shallow body of scientific evidence provides mixed results thus far. Some studies have suggested that gifted students are at increased risk for victimization, while others suggest they are at decreased risk. And still other studies have shown that gifted students have higher bullying rates within their own groups as a result of the pressure they are under to compete with one another and achieve. To provide clarification on this issue, Megan Parker Peters, a school psychologist at Vanderbilt University, led a study on bullying among gifted students. “In the current study, we sought to determine if rates of bullying and victimization among gifted high school students differ from those of high-achieving (HA), but not gifted, peers in Advanced Placement (AP) classes,” said Peters, who conducted the study with her colleague Sherry K. Bain of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
The team evaluated 90 high school students enrolled in AP classes either in the gifted program, or in the high achieving (HA) non-gifted program. “Based on our results, gifted students’ advanced cognitive development apparently does not presage a difference for these students relative to non-gifted high achievers in the amounts of bullying and victimization they experience,” said Peters. “Results of our study do not offer support for specially embedded programs targeted specifically at minimizing bullying and victimization for students who are in gifted classes. We recommend that proponents of specialized programs targeting gifted students continue to focus on activities that are beneficial based on evidential needs, such as academic acceleration.”
Peters, Megan Parker, and Sherry K. Bain. “Bullying and Victimization Rates Among Gifted and High-Achieving Students.” Journal for the Education of the Gifted 34.4 (2011): 624-43. Print.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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