Parents increasingly have “legitimate concerns” about violence, bullying and mental health resources in schools, according to a new poll.
The poll, released by the National Parents Union, found that 84% of parents are concerned about how schools address the threat of violence, with 59% identifying increased bullying or violence in school as a significant issue.
About 52% said student mental health while coping with the coronavirus pandemic is a significant issue as well.
“Parents have very legitimate concerns about violence in schools, increased bullying, and a lack of mental health resources,” Keri Rodrigues, co-founder and president of the National Parents Union, said in a statement. “Now, it is incumbent on schools to do something about these issues, especially given the federal funds available. It’s not rocket science. Rather than repaint a football field, first, make sure that there are enough counselors to help students cope with mental health issues.”
The National Parents Union, a network of parent organizations and grassroots activists committed to improving the quality of life for children and families in the United States, conducted the poll from Nov. 19-23, surveying 1,233 parents who also count as registered voters.
Of the parents who cited the threat of violence as a top concern, 44% feared schools don’t have enough counselors, psychologists or social workers to work with students, 42% worried schools don’t have adequate resources to keep weapons out of schools, and 39% said schools don’t have school resource officers or police accessible on campus.
The poll also found that 59% of parents are very or extremely concerned about how schools are teaching race and diversity. Among Black parents, 69% share this sentiment, along with 67% of Hispanic parents.
“Many Black parents are worried that schools are being harsher on students of color compared to white students,” researchers noted in the poll.
Overall, 79% of parents say they are at least somewhat concerned about the issue of race, with 48% of that group saying what concerns them the most is schools not teaching accurate information about the topic.
Additionally, of those parents concerned about race-based teaching:
• 42% are most concerned about schools pushing a progressive agenda onto students.
• 56% of GOP parents who are concerned say this is their top concern.
• 32% are most concerned that schools aren’t focused on the issue enough.
• 46% of Black parents who are concerned say this is their top concern.
• 78% of parents are concerned about how schools are handling disciplinary issues.
• Nearly half (46%) of Black parents who said they are concerned about how schools are handling disciplinary issues are worried that schools are harsher on students of color compared to white students.
• 38% of parents trust Democrats to do a better job of handling education; 31% trust Republicans; 14% trust both equally; 11% trust neither. Among parents who identify as independents, 28% trust Republicans and 20% trust Democrats.
“These findings underscore the importance of the very thing we have been imploring school leaders across the country to do — listen to the parents in your community,” Rodrigues said. “It also reinforces the need for those running for office to take the concerns of parents very seriously or risk losing elections.”