District administrators are under immense pressure from parents to keep their children safe and are investing money in school safety initiatives. Communities have shifted from the belief that “it can’t happen here,” to doing everything they can to prevent it from happening.
Twenty years ago, the concerns about student safety were about preventing classroom misbehavior, physical bullying, fighting, and drugs. Now, it’s much more complex and the stakes are higher. We are literally talking about life and death issues for our students. What has changed in recent years to explain this increase in personal self-harm, suicide, and school violence?
Although school shootings get the most attention and are usually perpetrated by a troubled student acting alone, something is causing a dramatic increase in mental health issues affecting our youth. It manifests itself in fighting, bullying, suicide, cutting, and mass shootings, but it stems from a place of fear–fear of not fitting in, fear of being different, fear of the future. And the fear is amplified by social media where young people see artificial perfection and judge themselves as lacking.