The Cost of Bullying

Posted On October 1, 2012

Here is an excerpt from a very interesting article that outlines an approximate financial cost to a few of the many consequences of bullying. The full article can be found at

"Truancy/Low Attendance

A recent study noted that 8% of middle school students reported skipping school at least once due to fear of bullying. In addition, one out of four middle schoolers reported taking other actions, such as skipping class or going home sick, to avoid encountering a bully (Perkins, Perkins, & Craig, 2009).

There is a financial consequence associated with students missing school. One way to calculate this loss is to look at truancy rates. Truancy is generally defined as an unexcused absence of at least one day per month per truant student (each truant student is absent at least nine times in a nine-month school year). Truancies can then be multiplied by a school’s reimbursement rate—in most states, this is defined as the Average Daily Attendance (ADA) rate—to compute the average financial loss due to truancy.

For example, if a school has 1,000 students and a truancy rate of 6% (lower than most sources estimate the national average to be), there will be 60 students absent at least nine times per year, resulting in at least 540 days of lost ADA funding. The approximate national average ADA rate is $40/day (Phillips, Linney, & Pack, 2008); multiplying that rate by the 540 missed days, the sample high school would experience a loss of at least $21,600 per year because of truancy.


When negative behaviors, such as fighting, bullying, or harassment, increase, so do suspensions. There is both a cost and a loss associated with suspensions and a formula for estimating this amount (Phillips, Linney, & Pack, 2008). On the basis of conversations with school administrators nationally, we calculated an average cost of approximately $170 of combined staff time per behavioral incident that leads to a suspension. In addition, assuming that each suspension results in three days out of school (the average length of one suspension), there is a $120 loss of ADA funds per suspension ($40 ADA multiplied by 3 days). Combining the $170 cost with the $120 loss leads to an average negative financial impact of $290.

For the sample high school with 1,000 students, a 6% suspension rate (the 2006 national average) (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2009) gives 60 suspensions, which is then multiplied by $290 (financial impact per suspension). This results in an annual loss plus cost of $17,400 due to suspensions."