The old proverb that 'sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me' might not be that helpful as far as high-school students are concerned. Researchers from the University of Illinois studied 10,060 year 10 students in 659 high schools and found that classroom disruptions and psychologically-hostile school environments can make it harder for gifted students to excel and low achievers to catch up. 70% of the students said that they were bothered by disruption in the classroom and one in five said that they were often put down by their peers. The study found that smaller, private and more affluent schools did little to protect their students from verbal abuse. Boys experienced verbal put-downs more often than girls and high-achieving African-American students in minority schools were also more likely to experience verbal harassment.
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