New Survey Finds American Teens Experience High Rates of Anxiety, Depression and Self-Harm

New Navigate360 and Zogby Strategies Safety and Wellness Survey Shows Growing Teen Anxiety Caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic and Its Impact on the U.S. Economy, Culture and Daily Life

January 13, 2021: The second poll in a series of nationwide surveys conducted by Navigate360, a full-spectrum safety preparedness and response company, and John Zogby Strategies, a national polling firm, finds that many American teens don’t are not confident in the ability of their school administration to keep them safe when they return to class.

When asked what keeps them up at night, teens overwhelmingly said that anxiety and depression were key factors. However, what is even more worrying is that 56% of students said they personally know someone who was considering self-harm or suicide, but less than a third (32%) thought their school was prepared to deal with this issue, demonstrating that school leaders need to address social and emotional safety in addition to physical safety.

Just 36% of teens aged 16-17 said they know who to call and where to report a threat, less than half (42%) believe their school is doing its best to create an atmosphere of physical and emotional safety. These statistics show a decrease in trust and a sense of security compared to a August 2020 survey.

This survey, part of the Public Safety and Wellbeing Index, is the second analysis from Navigate360 and John Zogby Strategies in their partnership to assess the state of mental and physical safety and wellbeing in United States. One poll focused on adults, and the follow-up poll captured the attitudes and beliefs of teens aged 16-17. The results show that despite the end of 2020, a change in administration and the hope of vaccines to prevent the spread and rise of the Covid-19 pandemic, fear is still present in the lives of many Americans, young and less young.

Key statistics from the study include:

  • 58% of teens and 76% of adults surveyed said they only felt safe at home. Compared to the last survey, this is a decrease of 12 points for adolescents but an increase of 6 points for adults.
  • Only 37% of teens believe their school has a comprehensive emergency plan.
  • 55% of teens surveyed said they thought more about their physical and emotional safety and well-being compared to six months ago. When looking at teenagers in big cities, that jumps to 75%.
  • Only 55% of teens thought school leaders thought safety was a priority, and only 42% thought schools spent enough time and money to keep students safe. One in three (35%) said they felt “least safe” at school compared to home, after-school work, favorite restaurant or place of worship.

“Students tell us they don’t feel safe at school and we, as a nation, must work to reverse this trend. With staff trainings and established processes and protocols, schools can ensure that students are supported and comfortable asking for help. Public and private sector leaders must come together and take action to address our country’s school safety crisis,” said JP Guilbault, CEO of Navigate360. “Americans should trust that students are learning in physically, socially, and emotionally safe environments and allowing young adults to thrive so they can reach their full potential.”

Adults were somewhat more optimistic about how leaders and institutions deal with workplace, school and public safety issues. Of the nine domains tested, adult confidence actually increased in six categories between four and eight percentage points. Nevertheless, 38% feel less safe vis-à-vis their school or that of their child, 34% vis-à-vis their place of worship and 50% vis-à-vis their favorite restaurant. Three in five (59%) said they think more about their physical and emotional safety now than they did six months ago.

“While adults are slowly becoming more confident, today’s Gen Z teens are notorious for distrusting familiar institutions and leaders,” said John Zogby, who conducted the survey. “The current crisis seems to have only exacerbated this rejection, in particular towards school administrators and their ability to keep students safe. Left unanswered, this could have broader results on the future of Gen Z.”

The Navigate360/Zogby Strategies Index of Public Safety and Wellbeing is down to just 98.4 among teenagers – a drop in outlook from the end of August. The new index aggregates responses to several questions regarding physical and emotional safety and creates a baseline of 100.0 from the August survey. This first reported index represents an overall decline in confidence amid the multiple crises facing Americans.

The poll involved sampling 1,000 adults across the country and was conducted online on December 14, 2020. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.2 percentage points. The survey of (304) 16 and 17 year olds nationwide was conducted online on December 14, 2020, with parental permission and has a sampling error of +/- 5.7 percentage points .


About Navigate360: Navigate360 boldly tackles the challenges communities face by creating safe environments where they can thrive and focus on their true mission. Through technology, education and services, Navigate360 offers solutions spanning the full spectrum of safety – from prevention and preparedness to response and recovery. Navigate360 defines a modern approach to safety using rapid innovation and unparalleled expertise to deliver the solutions needed to build safer tomorrows – physically, socially and emotionally.

About Zogby Strategies: Nearly 40 years of excellence providing the most accurate polls and market research – serving clients in over 80 countries, ranging from global NGOs, Fortune 500 companies, candidates of all parties, of startups and local municipalities trying to redefine their strategy in the midst of dynamic changes. JZS asks revealing questions that cut to the chase and point to the future, offer meaningful analysis and guidance strategies.

Aurora J. William