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K-12 Parents Say School Shootings Are Top Concern This Back-to-School Season, Qualtrics Study Shows

Last updated:  August 18, 2022

Nearly half (46%) of parents say they had their children change schools or have considered doing so due to safety concerns


PROVO, Utah & SEATTLE (Aug. 18, 2022) – School shootings are the top safety concern for parents of children in grades K-12, and only 31% of parents feel their children are “very safe” at school, according to the 2022 Back-to-School Study from Qualtrics (Nasdaq: XM). More than one tenth (13%) of parents have moved their kids to new schools due to safety concerns, with an additional third (33%) considering doing so.


These findings indicate a shift in conversations around school safety since the pandemic began in 2020 with only 22% of parents now reporting COVID as their top safety concern. While worries about COVID wane and most U.S. public schools make masks optional for the new academic year, parental perceptions of safety continue to impact enrollment and retention. These challenges occur amidst ongoing learning gaps and staffing shortages. See the full study results here.


Parents say the top actions they want schools to take to improve safety are hiring security guards and conducting safety trainings with students. Almost a third (29%) of parents say they have taken measures into their own hands by personally teaching their children techniques for staying safe at school.


Parents are also taking on the responsibility of closing learning gaps caused by the pandemic. Last year, when parents were asked who held the primary responsibility to help kids get caught up on their education, the top answer was school districts. This year, however, the top answer is parents. Even after a year of mostly in-person learning, more than half (56%) of parents say their children are still behind — with one in five (19%) saying their children are six months behind or more.


Teacher retention is part of the problem, as the majority of parents (57%) say their children’s education has been negatively impacted by school staffing shortages, which have led to parents reporting increases in substitute teachers, teachers who are burned out and teachers leaving in the middle of the year.


“The past two school years have required K-12 institutions to learn how to rapidly adapt to changing circumstances, and this year is no exception as focus shifts from the pandemic to school safety and persisting learning gaps,” said Byron Adams, head of K-12 education industry at Qualtrics. “As schools tackle these big challenges, it’s critical that they listen to what students and families are saying about their priorities and their concerns, so they can respond with speed and empathy.”



This study was fielded between July 19 and July 29, 2022. Respondents were selected from a randomized panel and considered eligible if they live in the United States, are at least 18 years of age and have a child who will be enrolled in grades K-12 during the 2022-23 school year. The total number of respondents was more than 1,000.


About Qualtrics XM for Education

With over 20 years of experience in education, Qualtrics now serves over 1,000 education institutions across K-12 and Higher Education around the world—including 99 of the top 100 business schools and over half of the top 50 U.S. school districts—helping them understand and improve the experiences they deliver. Qualtrics solutions are purpose-built to help leaders in education understand experiences across departments, take the right actions to attract and retain students and staff and increase engagement and success. Qualtrics’ XM for Education solutions uncover unique insights into the student journey and empower school leaders to close experience gaps—driving increases in enrollment, retention and graduation.

About Qualtrics


Qualtrics, the leader and creator of the experience management category, is changing the way organizations manage and improve the four core experiences of business—customer, employee, product and brand. Over 16,750 organizations around the world use Qualtrics to listen, understand and take action on experience data (X-data™)—the beliefs, emotions and intentions that tell you why things are happening, and what to do about it. The Qualtrics XM Platform™ is a system of action that helps businesses attract customers who stay longer and buy more, engage employees who build a positive culture, develop breakthrough products people love and build a brand people are passionate about. To learn more, please visit