Math 7-9

Systems Change

Factor Connections

Hover to see how factors connect to Safety. Then click connected factors to explore strategies related to multiple factors.

Safety is being and feeling physically and psychologically secure at home, at school, and within our neighborhood and larger community. Students who feel safe are better able to focus on learning. Students who feel less safe tend to miss school and participate less often in class activities, missing out on learning opportunities. As students grow into adolescence their own behavior can be unsafe in addition to the safety of their surroundings.

Main Ideas

There are five key components of safety that affect a student's learning:

  • Bullying and Social-emotional Safety: Aggression (physical or verbal) and exclusionary behaviors are common in classrooms as well as in the broader community outside of school. Students who are bullied in person or online experience higher rates of depression and anxiety and have lower levels of academic achievement.
  • Home Safety: Safety at home is critical to students' development because students who live in unsafe homes can suffer from chronic stress. Students can feel unsafe at home for many reasons including experiencing abuse, witnessing violence, or having parents or caregivers who suffer from substance abuse or severe mental illness. The traumatic effects of living in an unsafe home can in turn make it difficult for students to reach their full potential at school.
  • Neighborhood Safety: Students who live in safe neighborhoods tend to have better academic outcomes than students who are exposed to violence and crime in their communities. Students who live in unsafe neighborhoods may experience chronic stress that has implications for their mental health and leads to a number of negative outcomes.
  • School Safety: The reduction of bullying and school violence are two main goals of school Safety. The prevalence of school shootings in recent years is an important concern. Students who survive these traumatic events are at risk for experiencing serious mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Yet, despite the increase in the number of victims of school shootings, overall crime rates in U.S. schools have declined in recent years due to increased security measures. More research on the impact of school security measures, such as active shooter drills, is critical across different age groups. Early findings for older students suggest that, while active shooter drills enhance student preparedness, they also bring more attention to the threat from potential shooters, which can increase anxiety.
  • Risk-taking: As a result of typical increases in seeking out new and intense experiences, adolescents may engage in more risk-taking and unsafe behaviors themselves, including crime, alcohol, or drug use. These may also result from changing social dynamics where adolescents are sensitive to peer and social pressure.

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