Poll: Parental Fear Surrounding School Safety Lowest Since 2012

The poll also found that student fear is at an all-time low since it started reporting the statistic back in 1999 following the Columbine school shooting.

Poll: Parental Fear Surrounding School Safety Lowest Since 2012

The poll has been administered by Gallup, an American global performance-management consulting company, since 1977.

Statistics from a new poll shows that 1 in 4 parents, about 24%, fear for their children’s safety while they are at school.

The poll, called the Work and Education poll, was conducted from August 2 to August 6 by Gallup, an American global performance-management consulting company.

The company has been administering the poll annually since 1977.

The newest poll results were gathered through phone interviews with a random sample of 233 parents of K-12 children living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Parents were asked, “Thinking about your child, when he or she is at school, do you fear for his or her physical safety?”

Gallup says that when parents hear “physical safety”, they could be considering many factors such as bullying, physical violence between students, unsafe school conditions, or school shootings.

The last time parental worry was this low was in August 2012, just a few months before the number skyrocketed following the Sandy Hook mass shooting.

After the Newtown tragedy, parental fear rose to 33%. That number remained unchanged for over a year and then slightly decreased each year following until reaching this year’s newest low since before Newtown.

Gallup attributes the consistently high level of fear to the young age of the victims in the Sandy Hook shooting.

Not surprisingly, the poll shows that parental fear has typically surged following a mass school shooting:

  • In April 1999, following the Columbine High School shooting, parental fear rose to 55%, an all-time high for the poll
  • In March 2001, following the Santana High School shooting, parental fear rose to 45%
  • In October 2006, following the shooting at a Pennsylvania Amish schoolhouse, parental fear rose to 35%

The poll also shows that the historical low point for parental concern was in 2008 at 15%. The average parental concern since the start of the poll in 1977 is 29%.

Student Fear at an All-time Low

The poll shows that 6% of parents reported that their children expressed concern regarding their safety while at school.

The question asked stated, “Have any of your school-aged children expressed any worry or concern about feeling unsafe at their school when they go back to school this fall?”

The first year Gallup asked this question was in 1999 following the Columbine shooting. Student fear was at 18% that year. The highest reading of 22% followed the Santee shooting.

This year’s results are the lowest in the 18 years of reporting. In those 18 years, on average, 11% of students voiced concern about their safety in school.

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About the Author


Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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2 responses to “Poll: Parental Fear Surrounding School Safety Lowest Since 2012”

  1. John in Balt. says:

    Clearly shows that people will drop their guard as time passes and they begin to have a false sense of security. The sad part is this can make it harder for those who are responsible for the safe watch of others.

  2. Although it is true that we often hit the ‘snooze’ button and go back to sleep after a tragedy, parents and students are also seeing changes in everything from building designs and features (CPTED) to changes in school climate that promote the feelings of a safe environment. Schools are safe, but we should never let down our guard and we must constantly train our staff with First Responders to prepare them how to respond in an event.

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