School Safety Perceptions
A recent Gallup Poll showed that parent’s fear for their children’s safety at school is returning to what it was before the Sandy Hook massacre. Gallup has asked the question, “Thinking about your oldest child, when he or she is at school, do you fear for his or her physical safety?” From 2009 until right before the Sandy Hook Massacre, 25% responded with YES. Shortly after Sandy Hook, that percentage rose to 33%. The latest poll shows that response has dropped to 27%
The percentage reached a high of 55% after Columbine. Gallup notes that parent’s fears for their children’s safety spike after tragic events in schools, but the short-term increases appear to get smaller each time.
Analysis of School Safety Perceptions
What does this mean for school safety practitioners? Gallup said that Americans overall have shown increasing resilience in their reactions to school shootings since Columbine, becoming less likely to have greater fear about their own child’s safety. This is, in part, due to the efforts of many dedicated school safety professionals. For all they do to make our children safer, we thank them.
A lesson to learn from this is that after every incident, fears increase. In the face of this fear it is not an easy thing to make decisions in a rational manner. Decisions based upon emotions are not often good ones. Major changes in approaches to school safety should not be made lightly, but with great thought and care. Schools, school districts and school boards should not bow to fear, or make decisions on the basis of emotions.
It is natural to feel fear after an attack on a school. However, do not let fear drive your decisions. Sound school safety decisions require much thought and consideration.