Are teachers and parents becoming more confident about school safety?

A majority of parents and teachers—more than 70% of each—believe their schools have put effective emergency response plans in place.

Superintendents who have put a lot of time and energy into strengthening school security may be wondering if safety perceptions about their schools are changing.

When it comes to the adults, about two-thirds of teachers and parents are “much more concerned” about safety than they were five years ago, citing declining student mental health, bullying and active shooters as their biggest fears, says a K12 survey released by Motorola Solutions this week.

The good news for administrators is that an even bigger majority of parents and teachers—more than 70% of each—believe their schools have put effective emergency response plans in place. “Ensuring that school personnel and families are aware of proactive planning practices, the notification methods employed by schools, technologies in place to thwart and report emergencies and school protocols for when incidents occur will not only help to alleviate worries, but ultimately improve safety outcomes,” Todd Piett, vice president of Motorola’s Rave Mobile Safety, said in the survey of 1,000 teachers and 1,000 parents.

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Here are more details the survey revealed about parents’ and teachers’ perceptions of safety:

1. Safety preparedness is key to gaining trust: Safety is critical for teachers (72%) and parents (66%) when they are looking at schools for employment or to enroll their children.

2. Student mental health remains a top concern: The adults surveyed were not only concerned about students’ and teachers’ mental health, they were also worried about the mental health of community members who may commit acts of violence on a school campus.

3. Crisis communications are essential: Nearly half of teachers and about four in 10 parents can submit anonymous tips to their schools or law enforcement.

  • However, more than half of teachers said that in the event of an emergency, they would likely use a classroom phone to call the main office, which the survey described as “a time-consuming approach that does not simultaneously loop in school district officials, 911 call handlers or first responders who may need to act fast.”

4. Using school safety technology puts parents at ease: A large majority of teachers reported that their schools have adopted new safety technology in the last two years but more than half of parents said they haven’t seen new technologies in use. “This disparity presents an opportunity for schools to periodically communicate with parents about the safety solutions they’re implementing to reduce risk or expedite response,” the survey points out.

  • Almost half of parents said their confidence in school safety would increase if teachers and school staff had panic button apps to quickly notify 911 in case of an emergency.

5. Participation in lockdown drills is high: 89% of parents reported that their child had participated in a school lockdown drill and nearly all of the teachers surveyed said the same. Most of those parents also said their child had participated in a drill specifically designed for active shooter preparedness.

  • 36% of teachers have not trained with first responders but said they want to.
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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