In much the same way that institutions of worship are universally considered sacrosanct, the school environment should be a safe haven for students to seek educational enrichment. The inherent challenges that are associated with teaching and learning require a climate conducive to achieve both. However in recent years, several societal maladies have permeated the walls of schools, presenting major issues for students and administrators.


In a scene being played out with alarming regularity, ringing school bells have been replaced by gunshot blasts. This was evident in Newtown, Connecticut when on Dec. 14, 2012, 20 children, ages 6 and 7, along with six adult staff members, were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary by a 20-year-old man. Until this tragedy, the most widely known cases of violence in schools took place 13 years prior in Columbine, Colorado as well as in 2007 at Virginia Tech where a gunman left 33 dead. To thwart the recent rash of violence, school boards have had to reroute dollars originally assigned for educational supplies for security measures to keep students and teachers safe.


While bullying has always been a concern in schools, with the advent of social media, what was once subject to being addressed immediately can spiral out of control. The public aspect of these social venues increases the humiliation and damage to a student’s reputation as a result of false and or slanderous taunts and tweets sent out by peers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide accounts for more than 4,400 annual deaths of young people between the ages of 10 and 24. A Yale study conducted in 2008 made the correlation between bullying and suicide and concluded that victims of bullying are two to nine times more likely to consider suicide than non-bullying victims. Teachers and parents play a critical role in teaching acceptance and compassion for students of different ethnicities and sexual orientation to prevent this trend from escalating.

Financial Hardship

A 2009 Public Policy Analysis of Opportunity for Postsecondary Education study concluded that students from households making more than $120,000 were 10 times more likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree by the age of 24 than students whose households made less than $40,000 a year. With rising economic burdens, students from low-income households may find it necessary to drop out of school to assist their families. In a Department of Education study of different socio-economic classes from 1990 to 2011, the dropout rate for young adults in high-income households was generally lower than that of those from lower-income households.

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Single Parenting and Stress

Whether a student comes from a dual- or single-parent family, the prevailing objective most parents have for their children is to be successful in school. The symbiotic relationship between teacher and parent as it relates to enforcing in-class study habits and behaviors is a crucial part of a child’s educational development. The responsibilities of a single parent may not always allow for a mother or father to consistently monitor a child’s progress. Also, the stress a child may feel as a result of missing a parent or dealing with the existing living circumstances could lead to psychological and emotional problems in school.