DALLAS, TX (Nov. 15, 2021) – Student safety company Gaggle recently partnered with AASA: The School Superintendents Association to convene a webinar examining the state of K-12 student mental health and the unique struggles today’s children are facing.
The webinar featured insights from prominent internist and addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky (widely known as “Dr. Drew”) and Dr. Lisa Strohman, recognized child psychologist and the founder and CEO of Digital Citizen Academy.
Both doctors were responding to the latest data provided by Gaggle in its latest annual report, “The State of Student Safety,” which spotlighted the troubling trends in student mental wellness during the 2020-21 academic year, including:
- An 87% increase in references to suicide and self-harm (from 148 incidents per 10,000 students in the 2019-20 school year to 276 incidents per 10,000 students in the 2020-21 school year)
- A 104% increase in threats of violence toward others (from 88 to 179 incidents per 10,000 students)
- A 151% increase in nudity and sexual content (from 46 to 116 incidents per 10,000 students)
- A 134% increase in references to drugs and alcohol abuse (from 21 to 50 incidents per 10,000 students)
- A 55% increase in harassment and bullying (from 32 to 50 incidents per 10,000 students)
Dr. Drew discussed his concerns at the outset of the pandemic around putting children in lockdown and giving them unfettered access to the Internet without guardrails, noting that he and Dr. Strohman had feared for many months that this would result in serious mental wellness issues for children, a fear that was recently confirmed when the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Children’s Hospital Association, declared a national emergency in children’s mental health, citing the severe ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic and related challenges.
“Thank you to Gaggle, because we have been relying on the presentations and data they have [been providing] to keep us really right up to the moment with what’s actually going on—that substantiat[ed] our instincts with what is actually going on,” Dr. Drew said. “It’s just uncanny how the access [to drugs and other unsafe situations] through the screens and social media have made things so profoundly dangerous.”
Dr. Strohman echoed Dr. Drew’s comments, noting, “The work that Gaggle does is really important because we’re able to have eyes on [kids] and intervene earlier” before a child is in the throes of addiction or other dire circumstances. “Kudos to a program like Gaggle who can come in and shut that down early on—before there’s legal, psychological, and emotional [consequences],” she said.
“All this extraordinarily stimulating material online—we don’t fully yet know the full effect on brain development. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t look good,” Dr. Drew added, stressing the enormous psychological effects children are dealing with in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic combined with unregulated access to the Internet.
“Paint the picture: You are a developing individual with a developing brain, and you are hearing from every device that’s in your household that there is a world-ending event that is going to take and destroy your family. They [kids] can’t process what they’re hearing except the panic porn that is out there as a massive threat to their family and their well-being,” Dr. Drew said.
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. For more information, visit www.gaggle.net and follow Gaggle on Twitter at @Gaggle_K12.