The Highmark Foundation released the first savings analysis created about the impact of bullying prevention programs in Pennsylvania. One example the report highlights is a $17.1 million in potential school savings when the number of students who leave schools because of bullying is reduced.
A first-time look at savings indicates there are cost savings for schools when they initiate long-term evidence-based programs to prevent bullying. For the first time, the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Windber Research Institute looked at the anticipated financial impact of the expansion of the evidence-based Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) during a three-year period in the 49 Pennsylvania counties that the Highmark Foundation serves.
"The cost-benefit analysis report provides valuable and positive outlooks that bullying prevention programs are having a greater impact in our schools, among health care organizations, within families and throughout the community," said Highmark Foundation President Yvonne Cook, according to a press release. "The Highmark Foundation is focused on supporting health care initiatives that address the improvement of service delivery systems. It is our hope that this report will serve as a change agent for bullying prevention in schools and organizations across the nation."
The report also compared the value of reduced health care utilization and care costs when bullying is reduced. Some of the various health-related conditions or problems caused by bullying incidents include mental health disorders, headaches, abdominal pain and/or alcohol use. On average, 31.4 percent of students with these bullying-related health disorders are treated at an estimated $1,683 per student (per 18 months).
"If the number of students who bully or who are bullied decreases, fewer students will experience such health-related consequences and a direct reduction in treatment costs will result," said Dr. Matthew Masiello, director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Windber Research Institute.
The Highmark Foundation is continuing its efforts to address and fund evidence-based bullying prevention programs in Pennsylvania, and has recommitted funding to the Windber Research Institute and the Center for Safe Schools through combined $1 million grants. According to the press release, the funding will be used to support bullying prevention efforts in Pennsylvania through activities designed to fill gaps in resources, provide unavailable services and strategic development of outcomes evaluation.