A report developed by non-profit Safe and Sound Schools and Raptor Technologies, based on a nationwide survey of school district administrators, public safety staff, teachers, parents and students, has identified significant gaps in attitudes about school safety. The 2021 State of School Safety Report shows students and parents are less confident than administrators in critical areas, including a 30-point gap when asked if their school takes a proactive approach to safety awareness. Concerns include how proactive schools are regarding student and campus security, how the school community would respond in a campus emergency, and preparedness to reunify children with guardians following a crisis. 

The report reveals a distinct difference in understanding of the steps schools are taking to address parent and student concerns about safety. Additionally, the survey generated feedback on topics such as how schools handled the COVID-19 pandemic, apprehension about the mental health of returning students, and the overall preparedness of schools to handle emergencies.

As students return to the classroom this coming fall, concerns around safety and security are top of mind.  The most significant discrepancy demonstrated by the survey was the level of confidence district administrators and security personnel have in tackling safety issues compared to the confidence levels of students and parents.

For instance, where 86% of administrators feel prepared for an active shooter event in their district, only 51% of parents and 44% of students feel the same. Additionally, where 85% of security personnel and 87% of administrators feel prepared to handle mental health emergencies, only 44% of students and 45% of parents feel that school districts have the right resources in place. 

“In all the years of doing this report, this is the largest disparity between respondent groups that we have seen,” said Michele Gay, Founder and Executive Director of Safe and Sound Schools. “The report highlights there is a real disconnect, or perhaps a lack of communication, between districts and families, which the pandemic may have exacerbated.”

Other findings from the survey include: 

  • 98% of administrators believe they handled the COVID-19 crisis well, whereas only 74% of parents agree
  • 89% of district safety personnel agree that they have a plan for post-emergency reunification of students and guardians, whereas only 45% of parents agree
  • 92% of administrators feel they have adequate safety measures within their district, and only 67% of parents agree
  • 91% of district safety personnel state that they have a distinct safety plan for children with special needs, whereas only 70% of parents agree 

“This report makes it clear that districts need to improve communication within their communities on how they plan to deal with emergencies and mental health challenges in the coming school year,” stated Gray Hall, CEO of Raptor Technologies. “There is an opportunity to help parents and students better understand the measures school districts are actively taking to tackle these problems through policies, procedures, and technologies that keep kids safe.”

The report summarizes findings from surveying a nationwide sample of 615 parents of school-aged children and 599 middle and high-school students (including diversity of age, geography, race, and gender), 512 school stakeholders (including teachers, administrators, staff, and school-based wellness and behavioral health professionals), and 374 public safety officials with a sampling error range of +/-4 to 5 percentage points. The Boston University College of Communication compiled the interviews and data.

To download a copy of the report, go to the 2021 State of School Safety Report.