Survey finds 79% of parents concerned about safety, bullying, COVID pandemic in schools

‘The best thing we can do is have conversations with children’

A new survey found what parents are concerned about as children return to school.

As the new school year approaches, kids feel a range of emotions, from excitement to genuine concern.

A new survey finds that 79% of parents believe their children will have challenges returning to school this fall, which revolve around some very serious issues.

As families prepare for the new school year, recent events are weighing heavy on their minds.

A survey of more than 500 parents identifies three significant challenges for children.

Topping the list is safety concerns at 44%, followed by bullying at 33% and ongoing issues related to the pandemic at 32%.

“Children have more access to news and what’s going on all over, not just in their community,” said Ariana Hoet, PH.D.

Hoet is the Clinical Director of On Our Sleeves, a national movement to break stigmas around children’s mental health.

“The best thing we can do is have conversations with children,” Hoet said. “And that’s what we talk about at On Our Sleeves, checking in, don’t wait for them to come to you, but have these habits where every day at the same time, maybe at dinnertime, bedtime. We’re checking in, and we’re asking open-ended questions of how the child is doing. It can be fun questions just to again build that habit or can be the more serious.”

Hoet says not to worry if your child isn’t opening up every day.

“Really, consistency is the long game,” Hoet said. “That’s okay if they don’t want to talk one day, but I’m going to keep checking in every day.”

The organization has free downloadable conversation starters and a mental health checklist to help parents get going.

And if you’re also worried about those same back-to-school issues, Hoet says kids cope the same way as their parents do.

“We know that kids cope however parents cope,” Hoet said. “So if we share, ‘yeah, you know what, I’m also nervous about that, and here’s how I’m coping with my emotion,’ It’s okay to feel nervous.”

Hoet says if your child is stuck on worried or sad thoughts, or it’s impacting their mood, their socializing, or schoolwork, that’s a sign to get help.

You can start by talking to their pediatrician, and you can click here to sign up for help.

About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.