Report: Growing concerns about school safety amid confidence in emergency plans

Motorola Solutions' research spotlights primary safety concerns and offers insights into emergency notifications, technology and training

By Sarah Roebuck

CHICAGO — Both parents and teachers are much more concerned about school safety now than they were five years ago, according to the findings of the Motorola Solutions 2023 K-12 School Safety Report. 

According to the report, 1,000 K-12 parents and 1,000 K-12 educators throughout the United States took part in the research, with 67% stating they are more concerned with school safety, even as 73% of parents and 80% 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 in the report 

  1. Earning the trust of parents and teachers hinges on the significance of safety and preparedness plans. When assessing educational institutions, both parents and teachers consider school safety a pivotal element, with 66% of parents and 72% of teachers regarding it as a critical factor.
  2. The prominence of student mental health as a pressing issue continues. A substantial 64% of parents and 68% of teachers express concern for the well-being of students' mental health. Additionally, apprehensions extend to the mental state of community members who could potentially engage in acts of violence on school premises, as well as the mental health of teachers.
  3. Effective communication pathways before and amid crisis occurrences are of utmost importance. Almost half of the educators (48%) state their capability to provide anonymous or confidential tips to their school, public safety, or both, in contrast to 43% of parents. In situations of urgency, 57% of teachers highlight their inclination to employ a classroom phone to contact the main office, albeit this method proves time-intensive and fails to immediately involve school district authorities, 9-1-1 responders, or swift first responders who may necessitate prompt action.
  4. The utilization of school safety technology is prevalent and holds the potential to reassure parents. A notable 71% of teachers report the integration of new safety technology within their schools in the past two years. However, 54% of parents note a lack of visibility regarding the implementation of these novel technologies. This contrast provides schools with a chance to engage in periodic communication with parents, elucidating the safety measures being employed to minimize risks and enhance response efficiency.

    Nearly half (46%) of parents express that panic button applications, enabling rapid notification of 9-1-1 by teachers and school staff, would notably enhance their confidence in school safety.

  5. Almost all teachers and parents indicate involvement in lockdown drills: 89% of parents note their child's participation in a school lockdown drill, aligning with 96% of teachers who report the same experience. Moreover, 82% of parents detail their child's participation in drills tailored to active shooter preparedness. Among teachers, 73% have engaged in such drills alongside their students, while an additional 10% have conducted these drills without students present. It's worth mentioning that 36% of teachers express an interest in undergoing training with first responders, despite not having done so yet.

To view the full findings of the survey, download the 2023 K-12 School Safety Report here.

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