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Parents Fear for Kids’ Safety in Schools

Schools and school-related activities where students are safe from violence, bullying, harassment, and substance use

Parents Fear for Kids’ Safety in Schools

As the 2022/2023 school year is underway, great concern from parents regarding their children’s physical safety at school increases. According to a poll completed by Gallup from 1 August 2022 to 23 August 2022, 44% of parents with children in grades one to 12 in K-12 schools fear for the physical safety of their children. 

This latest poll was completed just three months after the mass shooting in Texas Uvalde where two teachers and 19 pupils were killed at Robb Elementary School. The latest result is just 11% shy of the fear parents had for their children’s safety right after the gruesome shooting that occurred in 1999 at Columbine High School. Two teenagers fatally shot 13 people. That year the percentage of parents fearing for their children’s safety reached a record high of 55%. 

After that, in the chaotic aftermath of the shooting at Santana High School in 2001, parents gearing for their children’s safety shot up to 45%. The COVID-19 pandemic prevented the gathering of any data between 2020 and 2021. However, results fluctuated between 35% to 15% between 2001 and 2019. The fact is that this school year’s percentages are the highest its ever been since 2001. 

Children Fear for Their Safety at Schools

Additionally, one if five children attending K-12 schools in the school year have expressed concerns for their safety at school. This indicates a shocking eight-point increase from the 2019/2020 school year.

The latest poll result is the same as the 2018 poll that was completed after shootings that occurred in Texas, Santa Fe, Parkland, and Florida. Children’s fear for their own safety reached a record high of 22% in 2001 after the Santana High School massacre that took place in 2001.

These fears from children reach out to far more than just school shootings. Parents and their children fear gang violence, communal violence, physical violence, mental attacks, cyber bullies, and much more when they go to school. 

These attacks take place on and off school property. Even if security guards are placed in schools, the violence extends outside of school, especially in the form of attacks on social media.

Children Developing School Phobia

School phobia is becoming a far-reaching issue with children as their fear of going to school increases. COVID-19 resulted in a significant increase in occurrences among children. Apprehension about going to school can be caused by several factors. Children see and feel the anxieties of their parents, the media, their teachers, their peers, and the wider community. A child’s school phobia is the direct result of certain issues in the home, consistent bullying at school, school violence, school shootings, and loneliness. 

Below are more factors that could make a child develop a phobia of school: 

  • Over-protective parents who believe school is harmful.
  • Parents who continually talk about violence at school and the child overhears these conversations.
  • The child is allowed to follow an undisciplined routine where no time for schoolwork is enforced.
  • Significant family changes (divorce or death of a family member).
  • The child becomes apprehensive about impending tragedy inside and outside of the home.
  • The child is allowed to stay at home and not return to school for a long time.

The United States Surpassing Record Highs

The latest shooting in Uvalde Texas marks the 27th school shooting in 2022 killing two adults and 19 children. Education Week tracks all school shootings where an individual (not the shooter) was hit with a bullet. Incidents on school buses are also recorded, including school-sponsored events.

The Archive for Gun Violence is an independent organization that collects data regarding public shootings. The organization marks a mass public shooting as an event where more than four individuals are shot or fatally wounded, not counting the shooter. As per the organization’s data, the latest shooting in Texas marks the 212 mass public shooting in the US in 2022. 

Even more shocking, 2018 and 2019 recorded 24 school shootings. In 2020, it slowed down to 10, presumably thanks to the pandemic. In 2021, it surged up again to a massive 34.

The Bottom Line

The sharp surge in parents’ concern for their children’s safety has led to the posting of security personnel in school halls. Schools have furthermore implemented school shooting drills in an attempt to protect our children. 

As far as most are concerned, this is far too little far too late. School violence extends further than just on school property. Our children are exposed to violence traveling to and from school, on school buses, at school events, and more. 

There have been parents that have given their kids watches with texting capabilities and GPS. Until schools and authorities develop better protection systems to assist the police in responding faster to school violence cases, this seems like the best we can do. 

Resources:

https://www.kcci.com/article/poll-parents-concern-childrens-safety-at-school-has-risen-to-highest-point-in-over-twenty-years/41067393

https://www.npr.org/2022/05/24/1101050970/2022-school-shootings-so-far

https://www.campussafetymagazine.com/safety/k-12-parents-fear-children-safety-at-school/

https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/school-phobia-reason-signs-and-treatment/

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