Suicide, mental health issues, obesity, eating disorders and the lack of educational attainment from leaving school early not only impact individuals and their families, but governments also pay an enormous price, a cost ultimately born by taxpayers.
The analysis breaks it down. Loss of educational attainment costs families $A506 million. Adult mental health issues costs government $A150 million.
Continued bullying behavior (those who bully at school are 3.7 time more likely to instigate family violence) costs individuals and families $A412 million, governments $A332 million and other stakeholders $A198 million over a 20 year period.
We now know the significant impacts of bullying on individuals, families and our communities. We understand the problem and we have the evidence of what is required to prevent bullying and cyber bullying from occurring. And we know that long term change needs a sustained commitment. All we if are left to do is act.
The Alannah & Madeline Foundation argues for the adoption of the National Centre Against Bullying’s evidence based, multi-faceted approach that involves the victim/s, those who bully, parents/carers, the police, ISP providers and schools.
We know that a whole-of-school approach, involving all members of the school community works. Schools have successfully embedded prevention frameworks, delivered across the school curriculum and which start from the first day of school.
Their teachers’ behaviours are consistent with the values they advocate. They need to be role models and intervene when they see bullying, cyber abuse, harassment and sexual, racist or other forms of aggression.
Successful anti bullying schools involve parents and the school community because when they are engaged, values attitudes and behaviours are reinforced. Messages are more likely to be taken up. By investing in our schools we will make the biggest difference.
We can’t leave it up to school entirely though. We all have a role to play, including government, business and community leaders. How we act, how we treat others all contributes to the culture in which our children are raised.
We can’t afford to be complacent about bullying. The costs – from suicide to family violence – are too high.
Lesley Podesta is CEO at the Alannah & Madeline Foundation