The Cobb County School District is home to over 112,000 students. Those 112,000 students represent families scattered all over the county, meaning that our district serves hundreds of thousands of Cobb residents. Each and every person, in each and every family, expect our schools to be safe places where their student can learn, mature, and succeed. These people count on the Cobb County School District to do its very best to protect, educate, and nurture their loved ones.
It’s a job that every employee in the district takes seriously.
Every teacher, administrator, and support staff member knows their role in making our schools as safe and productive as they can be, and each one of them takes that responsibility to heart.
Recently, it’s come to our attention that some in our community are concerned about the district’s handling of certain discipline issues. Thankfully, the data shows the safety, social, and emotional supports put in place by the District over the last three years are generally working and working well. The data supports our commitment to keeping all of our students safe while fostering an environment in our schools that is most conducive for success.
Over the past three school years (from 2016 -2018), we have seen an overall reduction in the number of fights and bullying incidents. Fighting has decreased by 12% and incidents of bullying have dropped by 21% over the same period of time.
At the same time, the district has also seen an overall decrease of 17% in the number of days students have missed instructional time due to discipline issues.
How has this happened?
There are a number of factors at play: the district’s Prevention/Intervention Department has been a valuable source to our local schools by providing leadership on bullying prevention strategies, promoting student leadership, and educating on restorative practices. The Student Assistance Programs office and the Student Support Department have both proven to be meaningful to our success. They’ve expanded our Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program, and have worked with our district and local school staff on new approaches for reducing the number of instructional days students miss due to discipline.
Interestingly enough, while the District’s progress is impressive, it is not an aberration, at least not on the national level.
The latest iteration of the school crime and safety report, which is released annually by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, has more good news for parents.
On fights in schools, we’ve seen a 50% drop across the nation over the last 25 years:
“Fewer high school students were reportedly in physical fights, both on and off campus. In 1993, 16 percent of students reported being in a physical fight over the course of a year. By 2015, that percentage dropped to 8 percent.”
When it comes to bullying our county has seen a 25% decrease over the last decade:
“In 2005, 28 percent of students reported being bullied at school. By 2015, that percentage decreased to 21 percent.”
It’s not just incidences of fighting and bullying that are on the decline nationally. Crime and violence in America’s schools and among our young people have been decreasing rapidly over the last few decades. Our students are safer today than they have been at any time in the last 50 years.
Here in the Cobb County School District, we are hard at work to ensure that we do our part to help this trend. As such, we are always looking to improve and are excited to announce that our newest tool in the work to ensure school safety will be operational before the end of the month. On January 15th, our new SafeSchools Alert “tip line” will be available to students and parents, giving our community another method to report their concerns to district leaders and safety staff.
Our schools are safe, our students feel secure, and everyone is given the best opportunity to succeed.