A 2023 Vanderbilt Child Health Poll conducted by the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy of Tennessee on issues affecting children. The poll explores parental concerns as a mechanism to inform the public and policymakers of the challenges faced by children. It is important to address the concerns of parents regarding their children's education and well-being.
Here are some strategies and considerations to consider:
- Education and School Quality. We need more collaboration with schools to establish clear communication channels between educators and parents. Regular updates on curriculum, teaching methods, and student progress can help address parents' concerns about education quality. We must encourage parent involvement in school activities, parent-teacher conferences, and school improvement initiatives to foster a sense of ownership and accountability for education quality.
- Mental Health and Suicide. Promote awareness campaigns that focus on mental health and well-being within the school and community. This includes providing resources for parents, teachers, and students to recognize signs of distress and seek help when needed. Partner with mental health professionals to offer workshops or seminars for parents on how to support their children's emotional well-being. Parents must oversee their own children's mental health. We need increased availability of school counselors and mental health services to provide timely support to students in need.
- Bullying and Cyberbullying. Establish a comprehensive anti-bullying policy that emphasizes a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and cyberbullying. Create an anonymous reporting system for students and parents to report instances of bullying. Ensure that reports are promptly investigated, and appropriate actions are taken. Organize workshops and educational sessions for parents, teachers, and students on recognizing, preventing, and addressing bullying behaviors.
- School Violence. Collaborate with law enforcement and school administration to implement stringent security measures, including controlled access points, and armed security personnel. Conduct regular safety drills to ensure students and staff are well-prepared in case of emergencies. Establish a clear protocol for communication between schools, parents, and law enforcement in the event of a safety threat. Protect teachers from assaults.
- Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Provide parents with resources on drug and alcohol abuse to discuss these issues with their children openly and honestly.
In addressing these concerns, it's crucial to foster open and collaborative relationships among parents, educators, students, and the community. Regular feedback and dialogue can help ensure that strategies are effective and tailored to the specific needs of Tennessee families. Consider the use of town halls to go out and meet with parents and taxpayers to address issues. Get in front of issues proactively.
JC Bowman is the executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee