The Latest
June 22, 2024

Where Every Family Matters

2024 Vanderbilt Child Health Poll: Gun Violence Still Top Parent Concern

Almost a year later since The Covenant School Shooting, most parents don't think schools have gotten any safer.

Parenting is hard in the real world. And, according to the 2024 Vanderbilt Child Health Poll, approximately one in five parents say they don’t believe schools have gotten any safer since The Covenant School shooting.

2024 Vanderbilt Child Health Poll

According to the poll surveying 1,025 Tennessee parents with children under 18 from Oct. 25 – Nov. 22, 2023:

  • Most parents don’t believe schools have gotten any safer in the last year.
  • Nearly 40% of parents report that their children are worried about school shootings.

In the poll, two-thirds of parents say they have spoken with their children about firearm violence at school. Less than 20 percent say they felt schools were safer than the previous year, and a similar number considered changing schools or homeschooling due to safety concerns. Indeed, according to the National Home Education Research Institute, the amount of homeschooling parents continues to rise.

Gun Violence Still On the Mind

“Exposure to firearm violence, directly or indirectly, can impact a child’s health in many ways causing physical, emotional and social symptoms. It can disrupt their sleep or hinder their ability to learn,” says Kelsey Gastineau, MD, MPH, a pediatric hospitalist at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. “When two of five parents in Tennessee are worried about school shootings, it’s a signal that they don’t have access to the safe, supportive environments they need to thrive.”

Mental Health of Kids

“Social isolation and shifts in educational practices during the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to greater mental health struggles among children,” says Carolyn Heinrich, PhD, University Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Education at Vanderbilt. “Schools across Tennessee are reporting higher levels of anxiety and depression among students and are responding by strengthening both academic and mental health supports available on campus for students.”

Parents statewide say their top concerns are:

  1. Education and school quality (43%)
  2. Bullying, including cyberbullying (39%)
  3. Mental health and suicide (37%)
  4. School gun violence (32%)
  5. Drug and alcohol use (23%)

Go here to see the full 2024 Vanderbilt Child Health Poll.


About the Author

Susan Swindell Day

Susan Day is the editor in chief for this award-winning publication and all-things Nashville Parent digital creative. She's also an Equity actress, screenwriter and a mom of four amazing kids.