A study published in the June issue of School Psychology Quarterly calculated the financial cost bullying has on school districts. The study, which is the “first to count the direct losses caused by bullying-related student absences” according to an article in The Sacramento Bee, found that bullying costs California school districts more than $276 million annually.
The study found this number by analyzing the results of the 2011-2013 California Healthy Kids Survey given to 780,000 students in 7th, 9th and 11th grade in almost half of the state’s middle and high schools. The survey asked students questions about harassment, bullying, whether they felt safe in school and if they ever skipped school because of bullying. The survey revealed 10.4 percent of students reported missing at least one school day in the last month because they felt unsafe. Almost half of the students also said they experienced bullying because of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
So what’s the real cost? In California, the state allocates funding by the average number of students in classrooms so when a student skips school, it can greatly affect funding. The study found that schools missed out on $77.9 million in funding because of bullying related absenteeism tied to race or ethnicity, $62.7 million for sexual orientation, $54.5 million each for gender and religion and $49 million for disabilities. The final figure is more than $276 million because some students reported being targeted for multiple reasons.
Bullying has non-monetary effects on schools, as well. When students skip school, they are falling behind their peers, they are missing out on support services districts offer to prevent further student health and well-being concerns. Additionally, perpetuating a school culture where bullying is the norm creates unnecessary risk and shines a bad light on the district’s reputation.
Implementing and sustaining a comprehensive bullying prevention program can help turnaround all these negative effects. Contact us today to learn how PublicSchoolWORKS can help.