California study will examine how school climate affects safety
- A five-year, $5 million federal study is underway in California to help examine school safety issues and the role school climate has on the social and emotional safety of students, EdSource reports.
- The study is in the planning stages and will begin at three, yet unidentified California school districts that fit a variety of demographic and community profiles this fall.
- The findings, which are set to be released in 2022, will examine elements such as school discipline policies, suspension rates, the treatment of students from various backgrounds and orientations, protocols for addressing trauma, and the quality of parent and community engagement.
In the wake of recent school tragedies, many school leaders are looking at ways to lockdown schools and increase surveillance measures to protect their students. However, while these measures may be effective in a prison environment, there is some doubt as to whether they will make students feel safer. They should certainly not be the only tools used.
The truth is that most incidents of school violence and threats lie within the school walls. According to a 2015 national representative survey of high school students conducted by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 7.8% of students reported being in a physical fight, 6% were threatened by a weapon, and more than 20% were bullied on school grounds in the previous 12 months. These incidents caused 5.6% of students to report that they did not attend school at least one day during the month before the survey because they felt unsafe at school.
Creating a better school climate is an important factor in increasing attendance and improving educational outcomes. Though threats of mass shootings are real, the greater threats that schools face are issues such as bullying and internal school violence that occur far more often. This California-based study should shed some light on how school climate affects school safety and provide solutions for the future. In the meantime, school leaders will continue to focus on reducing bullying, improving school climate and addressing the social-emotional needs of students.