New Challenges Emerge for Student Well-being Despite Increased Safety in Public Schools

Public schools have had different views on students’ use of cell phones for as long as these devices have existed. However, recent nationally representative federal data on school safety and security measures collected in 2022 and released on Wednesday indicate that schools serving younger students generally agree that nonacademic use of cell phones should be prohibited.

The data shows that 76% of participating public schools (including 82% of charter schools) reported having prohibited such usage. The rates varied by age level, with 87% of elementary schools and only 43% of high schools having implemented such prohibitions. These numbers mark an increase since roughly a decade ago when less than two-thirds of schools reported banning cell phones. Many schools lifted their previous bans in response to concerns over equity implications. It is important to note that some students rely on their phones to address family issues, cope with mental health challenges, and access the internet.

However, the data released on Wednesday suggests that these bans are seen as necessary not only to minimize classroom distractions but also to address safety concerns.

The school safety report also highlights other key findings, including reductions in nonviolent campus crimes and the use or distribution of illegal substances, but it also reveals high rates of cyberbullying and limited access to mental health services.

Cyberbullying is prevalent despite a decline in campus crime

While the report shows a decrease in criminal activity on public school campuses, especially in nonviolent crimes, cyberbullying remains a significant issue. This is particularly true in middle schools, where 37% reported that students experienced cyberbullying at or away from school at least once a week. Additionally, 25% of high schools and 6% of elementary schools reported students being cyberbullied weekly. Bullying has always been a concern in public schools, particularly in middle schools given the physical and emotional changes experienced by pre-teen students. Surprisingly, federal data indicates that cyberbullying has become slightly more common than traditional bullying. In a separate poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2022, almost half of U.S. teens reported experiencing at least one form of cyberbullying.

Schools don’t favor cell phone use: Is banning them the solution?

Inadequate access to professionals for mental health services

The federal data released on Wednesday brings some good news: schools are progressively adopting preventative measures to address safety concerns. Sixty-five percent of schools now have threat assessment teams, and 90% have increased social-emotional support for students since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than half (58%) of schools also use restorative practices instead of punitive ones for disciplinary actions. Restorative justice involves mediation and deliberate efforts to heal the harm caused to the victim, often with the guidance of a professional.

However, a major challenge is the scarcity of professionals with the necessary skill sets. Despite widespread efforts to enhance mental health support in schools, the survey found a decrease in these services. Insufficient funding was one of the main reasons, but schools also struggled with limited access to trained staff.

School shootings: Rates reach all-time high for the second year in a row

Other articles

Post Image
Will Fifth Attempt Finally Pass Sex Ed Law?

The state updated its sex education guidelines last year for students from pre-K …

Read More
Post Image
Ohio State study finds that emphasizing test scores may increase the risk of violence for teachers

A recent study conducted by academic researchers at Ohio State University discov …

Read More
Accusations of Call Deflection and Mismanagement Leveled Against Major Student Loan Company MOHELA

Two prominent educational organizations, the American Federation of Teachers and …

Read More