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  • Writer's pictureAndy Murphy

How To Keep Your Kids Safe At School in 2022

The reality of back-to-school safety for 2022

Back-to-school safety is important to us as parents. I cover it every year and it seems that year after year, things escalate. It seems like something the year before has given us more concerns, and that certainly happened in Texas in May.

I also do this because when you search for back-to-school safety, you get news stories on where the school zones are and when to stop for a school bus. While those things are important, they aren’t the biggest threats that face our kids in school.

I’m going to talk about back-to-school safety like I never have before because I feel like we’ve not had a school year like this before.

This year, I want you to focus on the mental health of your kids. I feel like as parents we think our kids have it easier than we did because they can just Google facts when we had to use an encyclopedia. But the stress of school has changed from when we were in middle school. I think a lot of that has to do with how social media and the internet are woven into our lives and school curriculum.

Social Media’s Effect On Our Kids

I read an article from the Pew Research Center that said that 36% of the teenagers they surveyed said they spent too much time on social media. So about 1 in 3 kids know they’re on it too much.

In that same study, 54% said it would be hard to give us social media. If you are curious, YouTube is the number one app that teens use, followed by TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat. I’m amazed that Snapchat is still around, honestly.

I bring this up to say that so much of our kids’ time is tied up online where the rumors, jokes, and mean posts are live 24/7.

Thanks to social media the school experience – good or bad – doesn’t end for them when the bell rings.

Thankfully it wasn’t like that for us, we just talked on the phone for an hour until our parents told us to hang up. But for today’s students, the social pressure continues well into the nights and weekends. While it may make you an unpopular parent, create set times for when social media can be used and when it can’t. Do this for their mental health.

Be Open With Your Children

While we all survived middle school, the game has changed. I want you to put a special focus on talking with your kids this year. Get to know their perspectives, relationships, interests, and fears. It’s our job as parents to know these things.

I can hear some of you already, “But Andy, my kids won’t talk to me.” Yes, we were the same way when we were in their shoes. But now the game has escalated. Do your best to let them know that they can come to you with a question, an idea, or a fear that you’re going to listen and help. Be a safe space for your kid.

If you’re saying your parents weren’t like that for you, don’t let that get in the way. Don’t let that stop you. Our children need us to be their parents and you’ll both figure that out as you go, together.

Students Are Maxed Out

I’ve talked a lot about the social and academic stress of school and it reminds me of this great analogy that I pick up from Greg Williams and Brian Marren at Arcadia Cognerati.

When someone’s cup gets full, it spills over.

Greg and Brian were able to show over and over again how someone’s cup got full and it spilled over into the real world, and it usually involved violence. So some real talk here, I think about this analogy almost every day to keep my family from spilling over. To keep me from spilling over.

You need to remember that someone’s coping skills keep the water from rising and spilling out. The fewer skills they have to cope with the rising water, the more likely they are to break. Kids don’t have the skills we do. This means as parents we have to help our kids keep that level manageable. We may not always be the solution, but we always need to be their advocate, their cheerleader, and their rock.

Preventing School Shootings: The System Does Work

The last thing I want to leave you with is an open discussion about school shootings. What happened in May in Texas was horrific. The police response was not what anyone wanted. We still don’t know the full truth about what happened.

My feelings are that this event changed America. It changed students, educators, parents, and law enforcement. Things are going to be different this year. If nothing else, students and educators are going to be much more proactive about stopping these threats.

Personally, I think that there will be a stronger response to threats and acts of violence from law enforcement this year. I may be wrong, but I think there are a lot of good departments that want to differentiate themselves from that situation.

In my son’s school district last year there was at least one occurrence per month of a kid either bringing a gun to school or a student making threats online. And I live in a nice place. Like people move here for the schools. If this can happen in a “nice” district, it can happen anywhere.

Now there were no gun incidents in the district last year because school staff and the police were able to intervene before something bad could happen. So how was this possible?

Students were kept safe last year because they saw something bad in the school or online and they got the right people involved. The see something, say something plan worked. Students were brave enough to speak up and in my opinion, they are heroes. No one was hurt because the system worked.

You must have this talk with your children. If they see a gun or classmate make a threat, then need to talk with you, a teacher, or the school, resource officer. Most school districts have an anonymous tip line that kids can text. Make sure that number is in your kid’s phone.

If they come to you with information like this, then you need to drop what you are doing and get the school involved immediately. Showing your kid how to respond to this situation may save their life and the lives of other students, too.

For more on school safety, I want you to listen to two interviews I’ve done on this show. The first is with Greg and Brian of Arcadia Cognerati. We had an amazing discussion about preventing school shootings. And yes it can be done.

Listen, this may not have been what you expected, but it’s what we all needed to hear. The rules and norms that governed you in school have changed for your kids. You can’t apply 1995 protocols to 2022 issues. We have to adapt and learn to support our kids.

I do hope you and your family have a good school year. I want your kids to be successful in the classroom, on the field, and with friends. Just keep an eye on them and help them in the ways they need it the most.

Watch the Podcast How To Keep Kids Safe At School in 2022


Andy Murphy

Andy Murphy founded The Secure Dad in 2016 with the aspiration to help families live safer, happier lives. What started as a personal blog about family safety has turned into an award-winning podcast, an Amazon best-selling book, and online courses. He focuses his efforts in the areas of home security, situational awareness, and online safety.


Andy is a husband and father. His interests include coaching youth basketball, hiking, and trying to figure out his 3D printer.

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