As K-12 students prepare to return to the classroom after summer break, a new survey gauges the most pressing safety concerns for parents and teachers.
The report shows that 67% of both parties are much more concerned about school safety now than they were five years ago, even though 73% of parents and 80% of teachers are confident that their school’s emergency response plans are effective.
Released by Motorola Solutions, the 2023 K-12 School Safety Report captures sentiments from 1,000 parents and 1,000 educators across the United States. It highlights their perceptions about emergency preparedness plans, communication practices, school safety technologies, and training for teachers and students.
According to the report, parents list bullying/cyberbullying (67%), active shooters (56%), and student mental health (55%) as their top safety concerns. Meanwhile, teachers are most apprehensive about student mental health issues (72%), adequate staff to keep their schools safe (56%), bullying/cyberbullying, and faculty/staff mental health issues (both 55%).
“School safety is top of mind for parents and educators alike,” said Todd Piett, vice president of Rave Mobile Safety at Motorola Solutions. “Ensuring that school personnel and families are aware of proactive planning practices, the notification methods employed by schools, technologies in place to thwart and report emergencies, and school protocols for when incidents occur will not only help to alleviate worries, but ultimately improve safety outcomes.”
Other key findings from the report include:
Safety and preparedness plans are key to gaining parents’ and teachers’ trust: When looking at schools, parents and teachers both rank school safety as a critical factor (66% for parents, 72% for teachers).
Student mental health continues to be a top concern: Sixty-four percent of parents and 68% of teachers are very or extremely concerned about students’ mental health. Additionally, parents and teachers are worried about the mental health of community members who may perpetrate acts of violence on a school campus and teachers’ mental health.
Communication channels before and during crisis events are essential: Nearly half of teachers (48%) say that they are able to submit anonymous or confidential tips to their school, public safety, or both, compared to 43% of parents. In the event of an emergency, 57% of teachers indicate they would typically use a classroom phone to call the main office—a time-consuming approach that does not simultaneously loop in school district officials, 9-1-1 call handlers, or first responders who may need to act fast.
School safety technology is in use—and can help to put parents at ease: Seventy-one percent of teachers say that their school has adopted new safety technology in the last two years, but 54% of parents say they haven’t seen new technologies implemented. This disparity presents an opportunity for schools to periodically communicate with parents about the safety solutions they’re implementing to reduce risk or expedite response. Almost half (46%) of parents say panic button apps that allow teachers and school staff to quickly notify 9-1-1 would increase their confidence in school safety.
Nearly all teachers and parents report participation in lockdown drills: Eighty-nine percent of parents say their child has participated in a school lockdown drill, with 96% of teachers reporting the same. Eighty-two percent of parents say their child has participated in a drill specifically for active shooter preparedness, while 73% of teachers have participated in such drills with students and another 10% without students. Thirty-six percent of teachers have not engaged in training with first responders, but they want to.
The full report is available here.