Students may feel safe, but likely need more mental health services

Administrators, teachers and even students are being trained to more quickly spot signs of distress in young people
By: | September 11, 2019
A “laughter yoga” session reduces student stress in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District in New Jersey. The district has also provided PD to show teachers how to conduct meditation and breathing exercises to ease their own and students’ anxiety.A “laughter yoga” session reduces student stress in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District in New Jersey. The district has also provided PD to show teachers how to conduct meditation and breathing exercises to ease their own and students’ anxiety.

Most high school students feel safe in school, though white males feel safer than do female and minority students, a new report by testing company ACT finds.

Creating Safe Schools: Examining Student Perceptions of Their Physical Safety at School”—compiled from a survey of 10th- through 12th-graders who took the ACT in fall, 2018—also found that security concerns do impact students’ ability to learn. This led the researchers to conclude that there’s a need for more comprehensive mental health services in U.S. high schools.

When students were asked about arming teachers, 46% said they opposed the idea while 34% favored it, with the remainder declaring themselves neutral. Black, Hispanic, Asian and female students were much more likely than white and male students to oppose arming teachers, the research also found.

The Wall Street Journal reports that despite a new law in Florida permitting teachers to carry guns, only seven of the state’s 67 school districts have allowed teachers to do so.

Meanwhile, District Administration found that sales of bulletproof backpacks had increased this summer even though experts say they don’t offer much protection.

“To the extent that schools adopt ineffective firearm violence-prevention measures, they are creating a false sense of security,” said Jagdish Khubchandani, a health science professor at Ball State University in Indiana and co-author of a report called “School Firearm Violence Prevention Practices and Policies: Functional or Folly?”


Read more from DA: No clear way to stop gun violence


On the mental health front, administrators, teachers and even students are being trained to more quickly spot signs of distress in young people.

DA reported in April that districts are printing suicide hotline numbers on ID cards, conducting mental health screenings of entire student bodies, and forming student groups to help destigmatize mental illness. Some district are using new software so teachers can practice mental health interventions with virtual students.