Lack of School Counselors Affecting Safety of Students

Around the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, a student opened fire at  STEM School Highlands Ranch in Denver. In light of this event, and the many other shootings that have dominated the news, the topic of mental health is often discussed. A recent article by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) titled, “Cops and No Counselors: How the lack of School Mental Health Staff is Harming Students,” goes into detail about how this is affecting our students and what changes can be made to help.

According to the ACLU, they found that most schools in the United States are not meeting the required student to counselor ratios suggested by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). The ASCA has recommended there to be one counselor for every 250 students. However, the national average is 444 students to one counselor, the students exceeding the counselor by nearly double the recommendation. Similar ratios are found when in other facets at schools, including social workers, psychologists, and nurses.

To compound the data given by the ACLU report, the United States Department of Education released the following numbers:

  • 7 million students are in schools with cops, but no counselors.
  • 3 million students are in schools with cops, but no nurses.
  • 6 million students are in schools with cops, but no school psychologists.
  • 10 million students are in school with cops, but no social workers.

Furthermore, there is a lack of resources in our schools in need of reassessment. School counselors, psychologists, nurses, and social workers are overwhelmed with caseloads, which leaves the students with unmet needs. Can or will this reduce mass shootings at schools? It is unsure at this point, but could be a step in the right direction.

The HSDL offers many additional resources related to this issue of mass shootings. Visit the Featured Topics for more on Active Shooters.

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