As school shootings continue to plague the U.S., a survey of school resource officers released this week found that “mental health issues” are the greatest obstacle to keeping schools safe.
Some 60% of the nearly 400 respondents said mental health was the biggest issue, and 78% indicated the mental health needs of the student population have increased since returning post-COVID.
Early intervention is the most important and effective way to support students, yet less than 25% of survey respondents said they feel equipped with the tools and support necessary to address safety concerns in their districts.
The survey was organized by school safety software company Raptor Technologies in partnership with the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO). Through the survey, Raptor gathered insight into a wide range of school safety and student wellness challenges school safety decision-makers face.
Over 80% of the respondents hold the title SRO, SPO or supervisor to SROs, and came from 31 different states. About 64% indicated they are on, or sometimes on, the decision-making team when the district considers purchasing hardware or software for safety-related improvements. Most respondents indicated their role on the team is that of a consultant or influencer in the process.
In addition to mental health issues with students, the Raptor-NASRO survey found the top two most-needed safety improvements are physical security and training. The top three tools and processes most frequently identified are door hardening and emergency communication.
The survey surfaced critical data and insight on obstacles related to school safety and security processes, such as physical security, safety drills and procedures, and emergency response planning.
When asked what the greatest of obstacles was to school safety, most frequently mentioned was funding for security upgrades, mental health issues, physical security and budget for additional SROs.
School officials note that mental health affects how children handle stress, relate to others and make healthy choices. Early intervention is the most important and effective way to support a student who may be experiencing mental wellbeing issues they are not equipped to manage, the survey says. However, over 50% of respondents indicated they aren’t fully equipped to assist with the mental health-related needs of their students.
Using behavioral threat assessments is a critical component of school safety, enabling schools to evaluate threats and help guide students off the pathway to violence, participants said.
“Recognizing a student in the initial stages of distress empowers schools to reduce that child’s exposure and give them the support they need when they need it,” said Gray Hall, CEO at Raptor Technologies. “With Raptor’s early intervention technology, school counselors and behavioral threat assessment teams can address concerns more effectively and prevent students from slipping through the cracks.”
Raptor’s StudentSafe software allows schools to document and manage low-level concerns, create student chronologies, conduct assessments for behavioral threats and suicide risks, and manage cases for positive student outcomes. Administrators gain immediate insight through alerts and dashboards and determine trends and gaps with full-scale reporting.
Raptor Alert equips schools with an immediate way to call for help and, if necessary, initiate an emergency response, such as a lockdown or evacuation. The person initiating the alert can connect to 9-1-1 directly via the mobile application, voice call, or, where available, text-to-911, advancing emergency communication.
“From early student intervention to reunification tools and software, Raptor is dedicated to continuously working to improve our fully integrated school safety software and transform how the nation’s school districts manage every stage of school safety,” Hall says. “These results of our NASRO survey provide us essential insight into the safety challenges districts face, helping us to fulfill our mission of protecting every child, every school, every day.”
John Dobberstein is managing editor of SecurityInfoWatch.com and oversees all content creation for the website. Dobberstein continues a 34-year decorated journalism career that has included stops at a variety of newspapers and B2B magazines.