Survey shows many teens missed school in 2021 because of safety concerns

WASHINGTON, D.C. — More teenagers say they are missing classes because they feel unsafe at school and these concerns aren’t limited to bullying.

These findings are from the latest CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary & Trends Report. The agency says this report provides data from 2021, as well as 10-year trends, on behaviors and experiences among high school students.

It shows about 9 percent of high school students say they didn’t go to class at least once over the course of a month because they felt unsafe at school in 2021. These concerns also extended to feeling unsafe on their way or form school. This number has increased slightly over the past decade.


“Every percentage point is a child’s life, it’s a student’s life and so we need to be concerned,” said Dr. Annette Anderson, Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Safe and Healthy Schools. The Johns Hopkins Center for Safe and Healthy Schools is a resource for educators and policymakers.

Dr. Anderson said many teens especially minority students don’t know where to go if they need help.

“They feel like they have to take it upon themselves to resolve the issues,” said Dr. Anderson. “And many times, they feel like staying home from school is the right way to solve the issue when actually reaching out to a caring, trusting adult is always going to be the better option.”

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The survey also shows about 7 percent students were threatened or hurt by a weapon like a knife or even a gun while at school.

“Whether that means that as a result, they’re bringing weapons to school to help them to feel safe, or they’re using those weapons to perpetrate and bully other students. We know that it’s never a good situation,” said Dr. Anderson.

She believes students should know how to report these incidents before they escalate. Dr. Anderson also encourages parents to talk with their kids about safety.

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“I think it’s very important for parents to be able to talk about openly situations that may feel unsafe,” said Dr. Anderson. “Even if those situations seem uncomfortable for parents because it’s the transparency that I think is going to make the difference.”

This survey also shows bullying at school decreased slightly in 2021 but it found many students still experienced cyberbullying through social media platforms.

You can find the full report here: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/pdf/YRBS_Data-Summary-Trends_Report2023_508.pdf

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