Students say they need more emotional support and better safety procedures

A new survey reveals more students are struggling to feel safe and secure in their schools–physically and emotionally.


“Now more than ever, it is critical that school communities engage all stakeholders—from students to superintendents—in conversation and decision-making to protect our sacred spaces and precious community members, our schools and our students,” said Michele Gay, co-founder and executive director of Safe and Sound Schools.

In a national survey of school leaders, public safety officials, mental health experts, teachers, parents and students published by Safe and Sound Schools in collaboration with Raptor Technologies and Lightspeed Systems, respondents revealed their thoughts about student safety in schools.

While the majority of respondents said they feel that schools are safe, students reported having the greatest concerns—about both their physical and their emotional safety. Nearly 33% of students reported not feeling safe at school and all groups expressed a need for more mental health and social-emotional support.

“Students are telling us they need more help,” says Brian Thomas, CEO of Lightspeed Systems. “We know bullying and other social challenges commonly predicate violence and self-harm or exacerbate depression and anxiety. Together we must listen to our students, identify the early warning signs, and intervene before they cause harm to themselves or others.”

Here are the other key findings:

  • All groups believe mental health is an issue, as well as bullying/peer-on-peer abuse, substance abuse, and neglect/abuse at home.
  • 60% of students feel their school is prepared to emotionally support students who suffer from bullying.
  • 79% of students feel there is an increase in depression, compared to parents at 60%.
  • All groups believe school nurses, counselors and school resource officers are the primary resources to help keep students safe.

These findings suggest a need for improved safety practices among schools. District leaders can help by being intentional with their safety training.

“School leaders need to allocate time for professional development for not only teachers and administrators, but also school support staff,” said Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services.

School administration can also help support students emotionally by increasing communication between principals and counselors. Scheduling regular check-ins with counselors can help principals stay updated and address the need of their students more quickly.

More from DA: 8 things to watch out for as you design culturally responsive teaching

Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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