New research highlights educators' and parents' greatest school safety concerns and offers insights on notifications, technology and training.

School safety concerns are on the rise as classrooms open

New research highlights educators' and parents' greatest safety concerns and offers insights on emergency notifications, technology and training

Key points:

More than half of teachers and parents are more worried about school safety than in previous years, according to the 2023 K-12 School Safety Report from Motorola Solutions, which captured sentiments from 1,000 K-12 parents and 1,000 K-12 educators across the United States.

The research reveals the most pressing concerns for those closest to school safety and highlights their perceptions about emergency preparedness plans, communication practices, school safety technologies, and training for teachers and students.

The new data shows that 67 percent of both parents and teachers are much more concerned about school safety now than they were five years ago, even as 73 percent of parents and 80 percent of teachers are confident that their school’s emergency response plans are effective. 

“School safety is top of mind for parents and educators alike, with both groups expressing concerns about mental health issues, bullying and active shooter situations,” said Todd Piett, vice president of Rave Mobile Safety at Motorola Solutions. “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.” 

Key findings from the report include:

Safety and preparedness plans are key to gaining parents’ and teachers’ trust: When looking at schools, parents and teachers both rank school safety as a critical factor (66 percent for parents, 72 percent for teachers). 

Student mental health continues to be a top concern: Sixty-four percent of parents and 68 percent of teachers are very or extremely concerned about students’ mental health. Additionally, parents and teachers are worried about the mental health of community members who may perpetrate acts of violence on a school campus and teachers’ mental health.

Communication channels before and during crisis events are essential: Nearly half of teachers (48%) say that they are able to submit anonymous or confidential tips to their school, public safety or both, compared to 43 percent of parents. In the event of an emergency, 57 percent of teachers indicate they would typically use a classroom phone to call the main office – a time-consuming approach that does not simultaneously loop in school district officials, 9-1-1 call handlers or first responders who may need to act fast. 

School safety technology is in use — and can help to put parents at ease: Seventy-one percent of teachers say that their school has adopted new safety technology in the last two years, but 54 percent of parents say they haven’t seen new technologies implemented. 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. Almost half (46 percent) of parents say panic button apps that allow teachers and school staff to quickly notify 9-1-1 would increase their confidence in school safety.

Nearly all teachers and parents report participation in lockdown drills: Eighty-nine percent of parents say their child has participated in a school lockdown drill, with 96 percent of teachers reporting the same. Eighty-two percent of parents say their child has participated in a drill specifically for active shooter preparedness, while 73 percent of teachers have participated in such drills with students and another 10 percent without students. Thirty-six percent of teachers have not engaged in training with first responders but they want to.

This press release originally appeared online.

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