DALLAS, TX (Jan. 26, 2021) – A new report released by student safety company Gaggle shows a dramatic increase in threats of suicide, self-harm, and violence among the nation’s K-12 students during the fall 2020 semester.
“There’s no doubt young people are reeling from the turmoil around them, and it’s having a tangible impact on their mental health,” said Jeff Patterson, Gaggle’s founder and CEO. “From the effects of the pandemic on students’ home lives and friends and families to the broader national tension in politics and civil rights, kids are having a difficult time coping under immense stress. This dramatic increase in safety incidents at our schools is extremely troubling, and we all need to take this data very seriously.”
The special report, entitled Ring the Alarm: Students in Crisis, confirms a 66% increase in
student safety incidents in the first three months (August 15–November 15) of the
2020–21 school year when compared to the same time frame in the 2019–20 school year. A growing number of incidents (42%) occurred after school hours (between 5:00 PM and 8:00 AM and on weekends), as students continue to use school-issued accounts and devices around the clock.
Key findings include:
- An 83% increase in the volume of threats of suicide or self-harm (36,424 incidents in
2020 versus 19,956 in 2019);
- Incidences of violence toward others increased by 63% (21,287 incidents in 2020 versus
13,024 in 2019);
- A 59% increase in incidents relating to drugs and alcohol (4,806 incidents in 2020 versus
3,026 in 2019); and
- A 135% increase in nudity and sexual content involving minors (11,239 incidents in 2020
versus 4,773 in 2019).
Perhaps more worrisome, the report also shows a notable increase in incidents occurring among elementary-age students. During the start of the 2020–21 school year, elementary students accounted for about 13% of incidents, compared to just 4% during the same time frame of the 2019–20 school year.
Dr. Lisa Strohman, a licensed clinical psychologist, reviewed the report and said, “In all of my years as a clinical psychologist, I have never faced the magnitude of pain and suffering families are facing. It is simply unacceptable to have such young children struggling with thoughts of self-harm, suicide, and depression.”
The report data is pulled through Gaggle’s student safety solution, which analyzes the use of online tools within Google’s G Suite, Microsoft Office 365, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and the Canvas learning management system for more than 4.5 million students across the United States. During the months reflected in the Ring the Alarm report, the platform analyzed more than 3 billion items within school accounts for harmful content.
Gaggle’s machine learning technology watches for specific content and communications that might indicate potentially harmful behavior. When a match surfaces, the content is evaluated by a trained safety professional to determine whether it is a threat and how much of a threat it poses. They then alert school officials to signs of student self-harm, depression, thoughts of suicide, substance abuse, cyberbullying, credible threats of violence against others, or other harmful situations.
“This has been an enormously challenging time for children and teenagers, and we all need to be increasingly vigilant to make sure students are getting the mental health services and support they need,” Patterson added.
About Gaggle | www.gaggle.net
Since 1999, Gaggle has been the leader in helping K-12 districts manage student safety on school-provided technology. Using a powerful combination of artificial intelligence and trained safety experts, the safety solution proactively assists districts 24/7/365 in the prevention of student suicide, bullying, inappropriate behaviors, school violence, and other harmful situations. Most importantly, Gaggle continues to help hundreds of districts avoid tragedies and save lives, while also protecting their liability. During the 2019–20 academic year, Gaggle helped districts save the lives of 927 students who were planning or actually attempting suicide.