Opinion

Students increasingly worried about safety

An editorial from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel 

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — As the school year builds up steam, students across the region are learning reading, writing, arithmetic … and fear? Reports on surveys of school children in the U.S. in recent years show they are increasingly afraid of what dangers might await them at school. Certainly there is still bullying and the anxiety about test performance with which generations have had to cope. But now a relatively recent fear is creeping in.

A Gallup poll taken earlier this month shows 13 percent of students are concerned for their physical safety at school – the highest that figure has been in 15 years. The number of parents who said their kids had expressed fear was double for public school students what it was for private school students.

Adults may be getting desensitized to school violence, but their kids are not.

There may be good reason for that. One national security expert says Ohio public schools rank first in the nation for the number of threats received; but there has been a 158 percent increase nationwide in threats to schools. Social media makes it easier than ever to strike fear into students, teachers, administrators and parents; and that fear is taking hold.

Because law enforcement and security officers must take each threat seriously, there is often a heavy response, until buildings are cleared.

“(It) generates a massive police response. Disrupting schools, triggering evacuations, and creating parental and student anxiety in a community and it disrupts the learning process,” national school security expert Ken Trump told another publication.

Parents and teachers have a difficult enough time teaching kids everything they need to succeed, without dealing with the added stress of that kind of anxiety and fear. Those responsible for such threats must be subject to the fullest punishment allowed by law, once they are caught.

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