- As students continue to call for tighter restrictions on guns and ask policymakers to do more to prevent mass shootings on school campuses, a new survey of 35,000 5th through 12th graders in eight states shows that about two-thirds of students feel safe in their classrooms, while a smaller percentage — 59% — say they feel safe at their schools in general, according to data released today by the YouthTruth Student Survey.
- Even fewer — 55% — said they feel safe on school property outside the building, and 54% say they feel safe in hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms. Sixty percent responded that adults at their school try to stop bullying and harassment, and middle school students were slightly more likely than high school students to answer that they try to intervene when another student is being bullied — 58% compared to 51%.
- Just over a third said physical fights occur at their schools, and 31% responded that they feel they have to be ready to fight to defend themselves at school. Black students in both middle and high school were more likely to say they have their guard up, with 41% agreeing with that statement.
As schools expand efforts to incorporate more student voice in efforts to improve school climate, surveys such as these can be an important tool in creating conversations with students about how to improve their perceptions of safety. The survey report notes that students who feel unsafe or victimized at school are more likely to be at risk for risky behaviors, such as substance use or carrying weapons.
In a recent study appearing in the journal “Pediatrics,” based on data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, researchers showed that victims of bullying are more likely to carry weapons to school when they experience additional risk factors, such as fighting, being injured or threatened, or skipping school because they are afraid for their safety.
“Violence-prevention efforts should consider directing what limited resources are available toward students who are at greatest risk for weapon carrying,” the authors write. “Parents and school personnel should be watchful for red flags such as unexplained bruises or injuries, school avoidance, and/or frequent truancy.”
Another recent poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center, confirms that there is a heightened sense of danger among teens, specifically the fear that a shooting could take place in their school. The survey, conducted following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, showed that Hispanic and black students were the most concerned.