A school’s climate and culture can play a significant role in student safety and well-being. If a student feels unsafe or unwelcome in a school building, they won’t want to be there. The same applies to a school’s virtual environment. Bullying and harassment in the digital landscape can negatively impact a school’s climate and, much like when these incidents occur in the physical environment, may result in students being absent more frequently.
With the fear of bullying causing an estimated 160,000 students to miss school each day, it’s vital that school districts combat this issue head-on in an effort to reduce absenteeism. And since nurturing a healthy climate and culture in schools extends beyond the physical school building, protecting students’ well-being in the digital environment will be a major consideration as many districts gear up for another round of distance learning for the upcoming school year.
Research published by the University of Texas at Austin (UT) in 2017 highlighted the impact of bullying on school climate, absenteeism, and even school funding. Using existing data from the California Healthy Kids Survey and information from the state’s Department of Education, the researchers estimated that approximately $276 million in revenue was lost each year in California public schools because students felt unsafe. “We found a strong link between all types of bullying and school absence,” says Laura Baams of UT Austin. “Once school districts and boards realize how much funding is lost—especially in those districts that are struggling for funds—we see that it is worth the investment to do something about bullying.”
Decreasing bullying and cyberbullying is certainly a goal for school districts when it comes to maintaining safe climates and healthy cultures. Whether districts opt for in-person learning, distance learning, or a hybrid model for the upcoming school year, creating a safe, healthy learning environment—digital and physical—should be top of mind.
Want to learn more about the importance of creating a healthy school climate and culture? Be sure to read our Investing in Student Safety report, which explores the value of various school safety initiatives.