As millions of students start a new school year, results of a new national survey indicate that nearly half of the parents of kindergartners to eighth graders are concerned about school security.

The survey of 1,948 parents was conducted late last month by Zogby International, sponsored by ADT Security Services and has a margin of error of +/- 2.3 percent.

Among the findings, nearly half of the respondents expressed concerns that a sexual predator could target their child while at school and more than a third have concerns that their child could be abducted by a stranger. A majority said they’d be willing to pay for additional security systems to help schools keep unwanted visitors off campuses.

Here are six steps parents can take to help create safer schools:

  • Talk to your children about school security
  • Visit your child’s campus and talk with an administrator about the school’s security plan
  • Educate yourself on the plans, procedures and technologies working well at other schools
  • Get to know the law enforcement officials assigned to your child’s school
  • Join other parents who may also be concerned about the security of their children
  • Do not keep firearms easily accessible in your home

            There are currently more than 500,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S., according to the National Alert Registry. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports more than 700 children are abducted each day. 

            “These numbers underscore the need for all stakeholders in education to help improve school safety,” said Brad Dennis, director of search operations for the KlaasKids Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps stop crimes against children. “By forming and promoting partnerships with concerned parents and other citizens, we can become part of the solution to keep our kids safe.”

Highlights of the survey:

  • 46 percent of parents said they were very or somewhat concerned with the security at their child’s school
  • 45 percent of parents were very or somewhat concerned that their child could be targeted by a sexual predator while at school
  • 38 percent expressed at least some concern that their child could be abducted while at school by a stranger
  • 36 percent are concerned that a violent episode, such as a school shooting could occur at their child’s school
  • 58 percent said they would be very or somewhat willing to pay for additional security at their child’s school

            Among survey respondents, 55 percent said it was important for their child’s school district to implement a visitor identification management system and 54 percent agreed that every state should require one at schools. Currently, only Florida mandates these systems be implemented in all public schools. These computerized systems allow schools to scan the driver’s license of a visitor and check the name with a government database for criminal offenses and sex offender registration. The systems can also flag people who should not have access to a child, such as a non-custodial parent. Once visitor access is granted, an ID badge is issued that must be worn during the visit.