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“Is My Child Safe at School?” New Poll Captures Parents’ Concerns on School Safety, Guns for Teachers

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July 18, 2018 10:25 am


School should be a place where parents send their children to learn and grow in a safe environment. Yet one in three parents feel that their child is not safe at school.

Survey data released by PDK International shows that 34 percent of parents fear for their child’s physical safety while at school, compared to 12 percent in 2013. This data was released ahead of the full survey to help inform ongoing national conversation on school safety after two deadly mass school shootings in Parkland, Florida and Santa Fe, Texas.


This number alone is alarmingly high, but the data also demonstrates large differences along income and racial lines. Among parents with a household income below $50,000, 48 percent indicated they feared for their child’s safety at school, compared with 24 percent of those making $100,000 or more. There’s a similar spread between nonwhite parents, 41 percent, compared with white parents, 29 percent.

Data released last year by the U.S. Department of Education showed that middle schools and schools that serve mostly students of color experience higher rates of violence than other schools. Also, historically underserved students remain more likely to witness and experience violent acts firsthand, face a greater risk of exposure to violence, and report greater feelings of fear of being harmed at school and in their communities.


Arming Teachers is Not the Answer to School Security

The polling results indicate that that when it comes to school security measures, parents threw the most support behind armed police in schools, at 80 percent, followed closely by 76 percent supporting mental health screenings, and 74 percent supporting metal detectors at school entrances. Parents favored these approaches over arming teachers, with only 37 percent of parents supporting putting guns in the hands of teachers and school staff.


Similarly, All4Ed believes that schools need resources and training necessary for teachers, faculty, and staff to create safe and healthy schools for all children. While school security measures are critical to ensuring school safety, an armed cadre of teachers is not the answer.

Instead, All4Ed recommends that states, districts, and schools:

  • Prioritize funding that supports requisite personnel such as school counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and other mental health professionals
  • Use Title IV funds to support safe and healthy students with comprehensive school mental health, bullying prevention, violence prevention, and training on trauma-informed practices, and
  • Reduce exclusionary school discipline practices and fostering positive social and emotional learning for students.

Read All4Ed’s full statement on gun violence in America’s schools and communities.

The entire 2018 PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools will be released here on Monday, Aug. 27. See the full results from the school security special release here.


Related Resources

Understanding How Community Violence and Trauma Impact Teens

Five Things Parents Need to Know About School Safety

Five Things Parents Need to Know About School Discipline

Four Elements for Creating a Positive Learning Environment

School Safety

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