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How School Safety Impacts Student Success

Students experience more symptoms of depression, miss more classes and receive lower grades when they feel unsafe at school.

Posted by Katie Yahnke on May 6th, 2019

Students who feel safe are students who succeed. Research studies have confirmed that when students feel safe and engaged at school, they are more successful in all aspects of life, not just academics.

Unfortunately, not many school officials are aware of this link, so they see violence as an inconvenience, not a detriment. Read on to learn how student health and learning are interconnected, and how to create a safe school environment that fosters positive student outcomes.

Download our Keeping K-12 Schools Safe with Case Management Software eBook to learn how software streamlines incident tracking and risk monitoring.

The Link Between Safety and Health

A safe school has the potential to improve the physical and mental health of those in it. In fact, one study found that feelings of safety at school are positively related to “both behavioral and academic outcomes”.

An unsafe school is more likely to lead to students who have emotional problems, particularly the direct victims of violence or bullying. Concordia University published a report in August 2016 examining the link between school safety and increased academic success. The report argues that students who feel unsafe at school or are a victim of violence reported more symptoms of depression.

If one of your students might be a bully, you may need to speak with their parents. Download The Busy Teacher’s Guide to Talking to Parents About Bullying to learn how.


The Link Between Safety and Attendance

Beyond physical and mental health, there is a link between school safety and absences. A report out of the University of Southern California found that school violence “reduces school attendance, increases misbehavior and reduces the likelihood of graduation”.

Unfortunately, for those who are victims of violence or bullying at school, staying home from class is often the easiest way to avoid violence. Frequent absences negatively impact grades and overall academic achievement.


The Link Between Safety and Grades

Studies prove that school climate and safety directly impact a student’s academic performance. A student who feels unsafe will have a harder time paying attention and concentrating in the classroom, which will lead to lower grades.

One study found that student reading achievement suffers in schools with a high presence of gangs, fighting and general feelings of unsafety. Similarly, research shows that high grades “depend on a student’s feelings of safety”.


The Link Between Safety and Behavior

Many studies have shown a strong link between school safety and overall well-being.

Students who feel unsafe at school experience more symptoms of depression, attend school less, receive lower grades and have a harder time graduating. But in addition to that, victims of school violence are also more likely to “engage in risky behaviors,” such as alcohol use and carrying weapons.

3 Tips For a Safer School

Schools with high levels of violence lead to schools with low student success. Schools with low student success rates will have a harder time enrolling students. For private and charter schools, this means stricter budgets. For public schools, this might mean closing their doors for good.

If your school has a violence problem, and this is negatively impacting student success, there are several ways to improve safety at school.

The first option is to provide more non-academic support services. For example, implement a hotline so victims and witnesses have an opportunity to report incidents anonymously. This can significantly improve safety since officials can identify and resolve the risk of violence before it spirals out of control.

Another way to improve safety at school is to incorporate case management software into your investigation process. Schools that use case management software to track incidents and carry out investigations find it easier to identify risks, resolve issues and provide support for victims.


RELATED: Union County Public Schools Case Study


A third strategy is to get parents and community involved. Ask for help to improve the physical features of the school and the surrounding neighborhood. Remove graffiti, form a neighborhood watch program and make parents aware of risks.

For more ways to reduce violence at your school, check out our guide Ending School Violence: 8 Steps to Improved Safety.

Katie Yahnke
Katie Yahnke

Marketing Writer

Katie is a former marketing writer at i-Sight. She writes on topics that range from fraud, corporate security and workplace investigations to corporate culture, ethics and compliance.

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