Economic Costs of Bias-Based Bullying

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Abstract

Because many school districts receive funding based on student attendance, absenteeism results in a high cost for the public education system. This study shows the direct links between bias-based bullying, school absenteeism because of feeling unsafe at school, and loss of funds for school districts in California. Data from the 2011–2013 California Healthy Kids Survey and the California Department of Education were utilized. Results indicate that annually, California school districts lose an estimated $276 million of unallocated funds because of student absences resulting from feeling unsafe at school. Experiences of bias-based bullying were significantly associated with student absenteeism, and the combination of these experiences resulted in a loss of funds to school districts. For example, the absence of students who experienced bullying based on their race or ethnicity resulted in a projected loss of $78 million in unallocated funds. These data indicate that in addition to fostering student safety and well-being, schools have the societal obligation and economic responsibility to prevent bias-based bullying and related absenteeism.

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