DALLAS, TX (Sept. 29, 2021) – Student safety company Gaggle released its annual report that shows online threats of suicide, self-harm, and violence among K-12 schoolchildren increased significantly during the 2020-21 school year.
“Schools are on the frontlines of the battle to ensure students have access to safe learning environments. Whether those classrooms are in-person or virtual, adults have a responsibility to protect our children, and that includes safeguarding how young kids are using online tools intended for learning purposes,” said Jeff Patterson, Gaggle’s founder and CEO.
“Online learning exploded during the 2020-21 school year as the pandemic continued to create upheaval throughout our nation’s education system. Children were not immune to the anxiety and stress we all experienced over the last year. Parents, teachers, and school administrators need to be aware that students are still struggling, and they desperately need help and support from responsible adults,” Patterson said.
According to the report, entitled “The State of Student Safety,” Gaggle identified more than 142,000 references to suicide and self-harm in the last school year, an 87% increase over the 2019-20 academic year. Nearly 9,000 of those threats of suicide or self-harm were so serious that they required immediate intervention by school emergency contacts. The report also finds a dramatic 252% increase in the volume of threats of suicide or self-harm among elementary school students.
Dr. Lisa Strohman, founder and CEO of Digital Citizen Academy, said, “As a clinical psychologist, the 87% increase in the rate of suicide and self-harm during the 2020–2021 school year for K-12 is not only unacceptable, it is also devastating. Even more heartbreaking is the 252% increase in the rates of reported self-harm and suicidal intentions of our young elementary school-aged kids. Our children are clearly facing more challenges than ever before, including online bullying, sexual grooming, as well as the unexpected deaths of loved ones from COVID-19.”
Additional key findings from the report, which includes case studies to illustrate real-world examples of incidents that Gaggle has helped school leaders address, include:
- Threats of violence against others increased by 104% over the 2019-20 school year, with Gaggle identifying more than 92,000 concerning incidents. More than 3,300 of those incidents required fast intervention from school emergency officials.
- Gaggle found more than 60,000 incidents related to nudity and sexual content, including 6,849 serious incidents that were reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
- Gaggle found more than 25,000 incidents related to drug and alcohol abuse, a 134% overall increase over the 2019-20 school year. References to drugs and alcohol among elementary school children jumped by 431%.
- Overall, Gaggle reports the volume of concerning student safety incidents was 131% higher in the 2020-21 school year compared to the previous academic year.
Gaggle leverages a powerful combination of best-in-class artificial intelligence, machine learning, and a highly trained content review team to flag concerning content that K-12 students may be ingesting, receiving, or posting using school-provided devices and platforms, including Google Workspace for Education, Microsoft 365, Google Chat (formerly Hangouts), Microsoft Teams, and the Canvas learning management system.
The tool is used by more than 1,500 school districts around the country to help identify and protect young children from threats of violence, self-harm, and suicide; child pornography, online predators, and sexual content; cyberbullying or other forms of online abuse; and drug or alcohol abuse. During the months reflected in 2020-21 annual report, the platform analyzed more than 10.1 billion items within school accounts for harmful content.
To view the 2020-21 annual report, click here.
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.