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New research shows the benefit of bullying interventions in schools

New MQ-funded research reveals that rolling out evidence-based school bullying interventions could prevent over 24,000 cases of bullying each year, significantly improving mental health for thousands of young people and saving the UK economy £348 million per year group.

The study led by the London School of Econonics and Political Science (LSE) explores the long-term social and economic impact of effective bullying interventions implemented in primary schools.

The model incorporates new understanding about the impact that bullying has on mental health. Evidence shows that children who are bullied are twice as likely to require treatment for mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. And MQ Fellow Dr Jean-Baptiste Pingault has recently strengthened the evidence for a causal link between bullying and mental health problems.

These problems can have major long-term impacts - often preventing people from moving into higher education and securing jobs.

But reducing the need for health service provisions in these cases, as well as combatting other long lasting effects of bullying such as lost home ownership and reduced earnings as adults, could save the UK up to £384 million by the time each cohort of school-children reaches the age of 50. 

This is the saving made every year a new school year reaches the milestone of 50 years old, making this a cumulatively cost-saving initiative, with a return on investment for £146 for every £1 invested in implementing a proven model.

How did they discover this?

The economic model uses data from the 1958 Birth Cohort on outcomes associated with childhood bullying to estimate the potential short- and long-term benefits of effective anti-bullying interventions in schools.

These interventions complement existing anti-bullying methods in schools by encouraging classmates to take the first steps in supporting both the victims and the perpetrators. KiVa, one such model, is currently being piloted in a selection of schools in Wales and has been shown to help reduce bullying before it has a life-long impact emotionally and socially. 

Why does this matter?

With such clear evidence pointing to the link between bullying and mental illness it’s vital that schools receive support from both the government and public funding to rollout evidence-based schemes to tackle it.

The economic savings that could be made to the public sector benefit further underscores the significance of these interventions.

On a wider scale, it’s imperative that more work is done to better understand how mental illness develops, identify those at risk, and develop effective interventions to make sure fewer people go on to struggle with mental illness.

Last updated: 15 November 2017

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