Study: Schools Need to Improve Crisis Communications Skills

But, more than two-thirds of respondents said they were “very well prepared” or “well prepared” to handle emergency communications with parents.

ST. LOUIS, MO – More than 88% of school administrators had to communicate with parents about a safety-related incident within the past 12 months, according to a new national survey of K-12 school leaders by SchoolReach.

“School leaders are communicating with parents about all kinds of safety-related issues, including lockdowns, incidents of violence, and evacuations,” said Paul Langhorst, co-founder of SchoolReach.

Nearly a third of respondents (31%) communicated with parents about lockdowns over the past 12 months and 18% communicated about a student fighting incident. Fourteen percent had communicated in the past year about the death of a student or staff member.

Although more than two-thirds of respondents said they were “very well prepared” or “well prepared” to handle emergency communications with parents, very few said they were “well prepared” to handle the media or crisis communications. Respondents expressed the most confidence in managing emergency notification to parents, but they were least confident in their post-crisis parent reunification abilities.

Additionally, more than a third said they were “very well prepared” to handle a building evacuation or school safety drill.

More than half of respondents ranked the overall ability of their school or district to respond to safety threats as “strong” (16%) or “somewhat strong” (43%). Respondents believed they were best prepared to handle fire safety and severe weather preparedness, while they were least prepared to handle school shooters and bomb threats.

Other survey highlights include:

  • 64% said their school or district had not considered allowing staff to carry guns on campus
  • 8% had considered arming staff but decided against it
  • 4% said they have hired non-armed security personnel to patrol schools
  • 10% have hired law enforcement
  • 60% of respondents indicated that zero-tolerance policies do not effectively prevent student-driven school violence
  • 55% said students reported cyberbullying
  • Dedicated bullying prevention curriculums are being used by 4 in 10 respondents
  • Nearly 1 in 4 use anonymous bullying reporting programs.

Chart via SchoolReach

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About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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