Reflecting a 20-year high in parent-school safety concerns, a recent Gallup study has spotlighted an alarming trend: Parents today are more anxious about the safety of schools than they’ve been in the past two decades. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to remember that parents hold significant power to halt violence within these educational institutions.
A poll conducted early last month found that many parents are concerned about their children returning to school in 2022-2023. Gallup conducted a survey and showed that 44% of parents of school-aged children (kindergarten through high school) are concerned about their children’s safety on campus. This is the highest number in more than 20 years, but it is still lower than the record high of 55% after 13 people died in the Columbine High School shooting.
When you think about how 19 kids and 2 adults died in the Robb Elementary School killing just three months ago, it’s easy to see why. Since then, during a July Fourth parade, there have also been high-profile mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Highland Park, Illinois. Gallup’s polls have been going on for 24 years, and this 10% rise in fear is one of the biggest changes of that time. Parents worry about their kids even in places where they should be safer, like school.
The results of the poll make many parents wonder what they can do to feel better about leaving their kids with someone else. Realistically, many of us can’t keep our kids at home so we can watch them and teach them ourselves. Those who couldn’t make the transition to homeschooling were thus left to fend for themselves. This year, some parents put bulletproof bags and backpack inserts on their lists of things their kids need for school. Some people have chosen to practice active shooter drills at home before they go back to school.
Cassie Walton recently went popular on TikTok after posting a video of her and her soon-to-be kindergarten-aged son practicing an “active shooter” drill. She can be heard asking her son what he would do if someone at school said over the speaker, “This is not a drill,” and what he would do if the police were outside the door but the shooter was in his classroom.
The AAP warned against high-stress active shooter drills in the classroom, which is why Cassie’s version of the drill is pretty quiet. Schools shouldn’t act out what would happen in an active shooter situation when they do drills. Instead, they should do drills like fire drills. In short, we should do everything we can to keep our kids from being traumatized at school, where they learn, because 20% of K–12 students are already afraid to be there, according to a different question on Gallup’s poll.
Instead of having our worries built up or making new worries for everyone, we can do things right now to make sure that our children and the children of the future have a safe place to learn. Social-emotional learning (SEL) is something that parents can push for in their child’s school and do at home. SEL can help kids be less aggressive and violent and teach them how to understand and deal with their feelings.
At the very least, we need to vote for the people who run our government. This means voting in every election, no matter how small, and choosing wisely. Vote for people who care about public safety and gun safety. You can also look into running for office yourself, support and join groups to stop gun violence, and just teach yourself and your neighbors how to keep guns safe in the home.
Fear is a real thing, but we can make a change if we turn that fear into action.