About Safe School Ambassadors Training & Services Program Management Tools How You Can Help Contact Us Home

About SSA: Cost

Peer mistreatment has tremendous costs for students, staff, and the school as a whole.


Every day, 160,000 students stay home from school because they are afraid of how they might be treated by their peers. How many thousands - or millions - more come to school with a knot in their guts, fearful, tense, and unable to concentrate?

"These are straight A kids, and they are saying they don't want to come to school because of how they are being treated."

--Eric Westcott, Counselor, Kennilworth Junior High School, CA

Student Achievement & Learning

Students can't learn in a fear-based environment. Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of human needs (at left) shows that students whose need for Safety (physical and emotional)physical and emotional safety is unmet will be unable to focus on higher-order needs like belonging, self worth, or achievement.

Students who do not feel safe - emotionally or physically - will likely:

  • feel isolated and disconnected (belonging)
  • have less confidence and be more vulnerable to negative influences and self-destructive behavior (self esteem)
  • be unable to reach significant goals or achieve their potential (self-actualization)

As Maslow's work indicates, when a student fears or experiences mistreatment by peers (name calling, being excluded, bullied, threatened with injury, etc.) his/her ability to concentrate, learn and achieve is drastically reduced. Data from the California Healthy Kids survey shows that perceived safety predicts academic performance. When students feel safer they do better on tests, even after the influence of key variables - ethnic composition of the school, average parental education, household income, and school grade - is eliminated.

CHKS Graph

Teachers' Time, Energy, and Morale

How much time and energy does your staff expend on disciplining the students in their classes for peer mistreatment? What does that take away from the other students? How much does that dampen the enthusiasm and sap the energy they would otherwise infuse into their teaching? How much does that erode morale and accelerate turnover?

"Two boys walked into my American Literature class arguing loudly. I escorted them outside and helped them resolve their disagreement. As they re-entered the class, one boy tried to get the last word in and made a provocative comment to the other. Before the other could respond, the Safe School Ambassador (a student in the class) said to the boys (but loudly enough that the class can hear) "Looks like it's time to read Huck Finn (the book the class was reading.)" The arguing boys looked at him questioningly, but when he met their eyes with "the look," they took the hint, and sat down."

--Marjorie Sotero, Teacher, Paloma Valley High School, California

Administrative Time, Energy and Morale

How many hours do your counselors and administrators spend resolving student conflicts, handing out punishment, meeting with parents, and processing paperwork for detentions, suspensions, and expulsions? How else could that time be used?


In addition to the dollar cost of the staff time noted above, preventing and responding to peer mistreatment and violence often requires hiring additional staff: campus supervisors, school resource officers, and others. How much does a school resource officer cost? How much does it cost to respond to a bomb threat?

Social Costs

And what if the unthinkable were to occur? What are the social costs of a shooting or a suicide?

"A friend of mine has been talking about hurting themselves (committing suicide). I didn't know what to do before this training. Now, I do."

--Safe School Ambassador, Valley Central High School, New York

We can provide you with a customized Cost-Benefit Analysis.

What can be done? Read about What Works, distilled from the research.


"What they say gets in your head. And some people can't get it out, to the point where it leads to depression, drug habits, self-mutilation, and even suicide."

--Jennifer Routh, Student, Rancho Cotate High School, California

Support this Work