It Matters – Infographic Series
Bullying, defined as repeated interpersonal behavior, typically between children with unequal power, which is intended to do physical or psychological harm, can lead to other negative outcomes for both the bully and the victim. Bullying itself can take different forms: physical coercion, hostile teasing or emotional bullying, or harassment via the Internet.
Since the mid-1970s, children under 18 have been much more likely than adults to be poor. Being raised in poverty (defined as income of $24,008 or less in 2014, for a family of four with two children) places children at higher risk for a wide range of problems. Research indicates that poor children are disproportionately exposed to factors that may impair brain development  and affect cognitive, social, and emotional functioning. These risks include environmental toxins, inadequate nutrition, maternal depression, parental substance abuse, trauma and abuse, violent crime, divorce, low-quality child care, and decreased cognitive stimulation (stemming in part from exposure, in infancy, to a more restricted vocabulary).
School readiness, a multi-dimensional concept, conveys important advantages. Children who enter school with early skills, such as a basic knowledge of math and reading, are more likely than their peers to experience later academic success, attain higher levels of education, and secure employment. Absence of these and other skills may contribute to even greater disparities down the road.
Children in poorer families, and those whose parents had less education, are more likely to have meals together with their families than are children with wealthier or more educated parents.
Competence in mathematics is essential for functioning in everyday life, as well as for success in our increasingly technology-based workplace. Students who take higher-level mathematics and science courses which require strong fundamental skills in mathematics are more likely to attend and to complete college. One study of high school females found that one difference between those who later dropped out of high school and those who graduated was lower math scores among the former group. The importance of mathematics extends beyond the academic domain. Young people who transition to adulthood with limited mathematics skills are likely to find it difficult to function in society. Basic arithmetic skills are required for everyday computations, and sometimes for job applications. Additionally, competence in mathematics skills is related to higher levels of employability.
Students with parents who are involved in their school tend to have fewer behavioral problems and better academic performance, and are more likely to complete high school than students whose parents are not involved in their school. Positive effects of parental involvement have been demonstrated at both the elementary and secondary levels across several studies, with the largest effects often occurring at the elementary level.
School athletic teams provide enjoyable, supervised activities for youth. Student athletes report healthier eating habits, higher levels of cardiovascular fitness, increased parental support, and decreased anxiety and depression. Youth who participate in sports were also more likely to disapprove of their peers’ substance abuse.
Art instruction is reported to improve overall school climate, and has been associated with increased school participation and attendance as well as increased self-esteem and motivation. In addition, researchers have found a positive association between arts participation and a number of desirable academic and social outcomes, such as school grades, test scores, enrollment in post-secondary education, attainment of a bachelor’s degree, and higher levels of literacy and civic engagement.
Binge drinking is a common form of alcohol consumption among adolescents. Alcohol use among youth is associated with a wide variety of other risky behaviors and poor outcomes, including unprotected sexual intercourse, vulnerability to coerced sexual activity, the use of marijuana, and poor academic performance.
Attendance is an important factor in school success among children and youth. Studies show that better attendance is related to higher academic achievement for students of all backgrounds, but particularly for children with lower socio-economic status. Beginning in kindergarten, students who attend school regularly score higher on tests than their peers who are frequently absent. Chronic truancy (frequent unexcused absence) is a strong predictor of undesirable outcomes in adolescence, including academic failure, dropping out of school, substance abuse, gang involvement, and criminal activity.
Teen pregnancy is associated with negative consequences for both adolescents, and, when pregnancy is carried to term, their children. The great majority of teen pregnancies (75 percent in 2011) are unintended, although there has been a decrease in recent years.
Volunteering in adolescence is associated with positive outcomes during the teen years as well as in adulthood. Teens who volunteer are less likely to become pregnant or to use drugs, and are more likely to have positive academic, psychological, and occupational well-being. Adolescents who are involved in community service or who volunteer in political activities are more likely as adults to have a strong work ethic, to volunteer, and to vote. Volunteering is also associated with the development of greater respect for others, leadership skills, and an understanding of citizenship that can carry over into adulthood.