How Do Schools Reduce Bullying? A Value-Added Approach
Sebastián Kiguel

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Northwestern University

Primary Discipline

In the last two decades, bullying has garnered national attention from researchers and policymakers. A rich literature from psychology finds that bully-victimization is associated with psychological problems like depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation, as well as educational outcomes like skipping school and dropping out. Research has helped identify profiles of students most likely to be victims, but there is little evidence on how to reduce bullying. Although every state has adopted an anti-bullying law, the prevalence of bullying remains mostly unchanged.My research aims to address this issue by analyzing the policies and practices of schools that effectively reduce bullying. In this study, I use quantitative research methods to identify Chicago high schools that reduce bullying, quantify the effects of this reduction on students’ socioemotional development and long-term educational outcomes, and examine the school policies and practices behind these reductions. First, I use school value-added models to identify schools that systematically reduce bully-victimization relative to other schools. Second, I use this variation to explore the causal effect of attending a school that reduces bullying on measures of students’ socioemotional development, such as emotional health, academic engagement, school connectedness, and study habits, as well as long-term educational outcomes like dropouts, high school graduation, and college enrollment. Finally, to gain insight into how schools reduce bullying, I explore the policies and practices of schools that effectively reduce bullying. My research findings can be helpful for schools and districts to design plans to ameliorate bullying.
About Sebastián Kiguel
Sebastián Kiguel is a PhD candidate at Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy. His research focuses on bullying, peer relations, and the social experience of schooling more broadly. His dissertation uses quantitative methods to examine how schools can reduce bullying and what this means for students’ socioemotional development and educational outcomes. He is also part of an interdisciplinary research team from Northwestern University and the Chicago Consortium for School Research working on a large research project funded by the Gates Foundation on the effect of schools on adolescents’ socioemotional development. The first paper in the project has been published in American Economic Review: Insights and another has been submitted for publication.His work is motivated by his experiences as a teacher and a co-founder of an inclusive high school for trans youth who had been excluded from traditional education in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sebastián holds a Masters in Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a Licenciate from the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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