School Safety Today: Survey Says—Gap on Perception of School Safety

Is there a gap between how parents and students perceive a particular school’s safety and how the school administrators do? A 2021 survey in partnership with Raptor Technologies revealed a wide gap in the perception of school safety initiatives. Students and parents are less confident than administrators in several critical areas, including a 30-point gap when asked if their school takes a proactive approach to safety awareness.

To further discuss these survey results and look at some strategies schools can take moving forward, School Safety Today tapped mother, educator, and Co-Founder of Safe and Sound Schools, Michele Gay.

“Being an educator, school safety was always a thing,” Gay said. “Those seeds were planted and watered over the years.” But when Gay lost her youngest daughter, Josephine, at Sandy Hook, that not only changed her life forever, but her perspective on school safety changed and became a recognition that school safety needs to be a top priority.

In co-founding Safe and Sound Schools with a fellow Sand Hook parent, Gay’s mission is to ensure all schools in the United States and beyond have the resources and assistance available to make schools safer. “There are so many people with so much to contribute. For us, it’s really just about bringing that all together,” Gay said.

Gay said she was not surprised by the survey results showing gaps, but the gaps in student perception were troubling because they are the ones at the school every day. “To see that there is this disenfranchised group that is our primary stakeholder, that waves a big red flag for all of us.”

Some of these gaps could be due to a lack of effective communication between the schools and the parents, a barrier Gay admitted is a challenge. “You can tell people stuff, and hopefully they remember it, but once they become engaged in it, and they’re a part of it, they’re not only remembering it, but sharing it with others,” Gay said. So, engaging the community is a necessary tool for closing the communication gap.

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