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New School Crime and Safety Data

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image Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2011

Report provides information on the nature of crime in schools and school environments, and responses to violence and crime at school.

WASHINGTON, DC (School Safety Partners) March 4, 2012 -- The Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2011, which presents data on crime and safety at school from the perspectives of students, teachers and principals.  A joint effort by BJS and the National Center for Education Statistics, this annual report examines crime occurring both in schools, as well as when students travel to and from school.  It also provides the most current detailed statistical information on the nature of crime in schools and school environments, and responses to violence and crime at school.

Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2011

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Executive Summary

Our nation's schools should be safe havens for teaching and learning, free of crime and violence. Any instance of crime or violence at school not only affects the individuals involved, but also may disrupt the educational process and affect bystanders, the school itself, and the surrounding community (Henry 2000).

Establishing good indicators of the current state of school crime and safety across the nation and regularly updating and monitoring these indicators is important in ensuring the safety of our nation's students. This is the aim of Indicators of School Crime and Safety.

This report is the fourteenth in a series of annual publications produced jointly by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Institute of Education Sciences (IES), in the U.S. Department of Education, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the U.S. Department of Justice. This report presents the most recent data available on school crime and student safety. The indicators in this report are based on information drawn from a variety of data sources, including national surveys of students, teachers, and principals. Sources include results from a study of violent deaths in schools, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the National Crime Victimization Survey and School Crime Supplement to the survey, sponsored by the BJS and NCES, respectively; the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and the Schools and Staffing Survey and School Survey on Crime and Safety, both sponsored by NCES.
The most recent data collection for each indicator varied by survey, from 2007 to 2010. Each data source has an independent sample design, data collection method, and questionnaire design, or is the result of a universe data collection. All comparisons described in this report are statistically significant at the .05 level. Additional information about methodology and the datasets analyzed in this report may be found in appendix A.

This report covers topics such as victimization, teacher injury, bullying, school conditions, fights, weapons, availability and student use of drugs and alcohol, and student perceptions of personal safety at school. Indicators of crime and safety are compared across different population subgroups and over time. Data on crimes that occur away from school are offered as a point of comparison where available.

Key Findings

Preliminary data show that there were 33 school-associated violent deaths from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010 (Indicator 1). In 2010, among students ages 12–18, there were about 828,000 nonfatal victimizations at school,  which include 470,000 victims of theft  and 359,000 victims of violence  (simple assault and serious violence ) (Indicator 2). In 2009–10, about 74 percent of public schools recorded one or more violent incidents of crime, 16 percent recorded one or more serious violent incidents, and 44 percent recorded one or more thefts (Indicator 6). The following key findings are drawn from each section of the report.

Violent Deaths

  • Of the 33 student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths1 occurring between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010, 25 were homicides, 5 were suicides, and 3 were legal interventions. From July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, there were 17 homicides and 1 suicide of school-age youth (ages 5–18) at school (Indicator 1).
  • During the school year 2008–09 there were 1,579 homicides among school-age youth ages 5–18, of which 17 occurred at school. During the 2008 calendar year, there were 1,344 suicides of youth ages 5–18, of which 7 occurred at school (Indicator 1).
  • Nonfatal Student and Teacher Victimization
  • In 2010, students ages 12–18 were victims of about 828,000 nonfatal victimizations at school, including 470,000 thefts  and 359,000 violent victimizations,  91,400 of which were serious violent victimizations  (Indicator 2).
  • In 2010, a greater number of students ages 12–18 experienced total victimizations (theft and violent crime) at school than away from school. That year, 32 victimizations per 1,000 students occurred at school, and 26 victimizations per 1,000 students occurred away from school (Indicator 2).
  • In 2010, no measurable differences were found in the violent victimization rates at school vs. those away from school (Indicator 2).
  • The total crime victimization rate of students ages 12–18 at school declined from 43 victimizations per 1,000 students in 2009 to 32 victimizations per 1,000 students in 2010 (Indicator 2).
  • Four percent of students ages 12–18 reported being victimized at school9 during the previous 6 months in 2009 (Indicator 3). Three percent of students reported theft,10 1 percent reported violent victimization,11 and less than half of a percent reported serious violent victimization.12 In addition, students attending public schools reported being victimized at twice the rate of students attending private schools (4 percent vs. 2 percent).
  • Eight percent of students in grades 9–12 reported being threatened or injured with a weapon, such as a gun, knife, or club, on school property in 2009. Specifically, 3 percent of students were threatened or injured with a weapon one time, 2 percent were threatened or injured with a weapon two or three times, 1 percent were threatened or injured with a weapon four to eleven times, and 1 percent were threatened or injured with a weapon twelve or more times  (Indicator 4).
  • In 2009, about 10 percent of male students in grades 9–12 reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property in the past year, compared to 5 percent of female students (Indicator 4).
  • During the 2007–08 school year, a greater percentage of teachers in city schools (10 percent) reported being threatened with injury than teachers in town schools (7 percent) and suburban or rural schools (6 percent each) (Indicator 5). A greater percentage of teachers in city schools (5 percent) and suburban schools (4 percent) reported being physically attacked, compared to teachers in rural schools (3 percent).
  • A greater percentage of secondary school teachers (8 percent) reported being threatened with injury by a student than elementary school teachers (7 percent) (Indicator 5). However, a greater percentage of elementary school teachers (6 percent) reported being physically attacked than secondary school teachers (2 percent).


School Environment

  • During the 2009–10 school year, 85 percent of public schools recorded that one or more crime incidents had taken place at school, amounting to an estimated 1.9 million crimes (table 6.1). This figure translates to a rate of 40 crimes per 1,000 public school students enrolled in 2009–10. During the same year, 60 percent of public schools reported a crime incident that occurred at school to the police, amounting to 689,000 crimes—or 15 crimes per 1,000 public school students enrolled (Indicator 6).
  • In 2009–10, about 74 percent of public schools recorded one or more violent incidents of crime, 16 percent recorded one or more serious violent incidents, 44 percent recorded one or more thefts, and 68 percent recorded one or more other incidents.  Forty percent of public schools reported at least one violent incident to police, 10 percent reported at least one serious violent incident to police, 25 percent reported at least one theft to police, and 46 percent reported one or more other incidents to police (Indicator 6).
  • During the 2009–10 school year, 23 percent of public schools reported that bullying occurred among students on a daily or weekly basis, and 9 percent reported widespread disorder in classrooms on a daily or weekly basis (Indicator 7).
  • Sixteen percent of public schools reported that gang activities had occurred during the 2009–10 school year, and 2 percent reported that cult or extremist activities had occurred during this period. The percentages of public schools that reported gang activity at all at their schools during the school year decreased from 20 percent in 2007–08 to 16 percent in 2009–10 (Indicator 7).
  • Three percent of schools reported that student acts of disrespect for teachers other than verbal abuse occurred at least once a week in 2009–10, lower than the 11 percent in 2007–08 (Indicator 7).
  • In 2009, about 20 percent of students ages 12–18 reported that there were gangs present at their schools (Indicator 8). Students in 6th grade reported a lower percentage of a gang presence at their school than students in grades 8 through 12. The percentage of students in 6th grade who reported a gang presence was not measurably different from students in 7th grade. There were no measurable differences in the percentages of male and female students who reported a gang presence at their schools in 2009.
  • The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported that drugs were offered, sold, or given to them decreased from 32 percent in 1995 to 23 percent in 2009 (Indicator 9).
  • In 2009 in grades 9–12, higher percentages of American Indian/Alaska Native students (34 percent) and Hispanic students (31 percent) reported that drugs were made available to them on school property than Black students (22 percent), White students (20 percent), and Asian students (18 percent) (Indicator 9).
  • In 2009, about 9 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being targets of hate-related words at school and 29 percent of students reported seeing hate-related graffiti at school during the school year (Indicator 10).
  • Higher percentages of Black students and Hispanic students (11 percent each) reported being targets of hate-related words at school than White students (7 percent) in 2009. In addition, a higher percentage of Hispanic students (32 percent) than White students (28 percent) reported seeing hate-related graffiti (Indicator 10).
  • In 2009, about 28 percent of 12- to 18-year-old students reported having been bullied at school during the school year and 6 percent reported having been cyber-bullied (Indicator 11). A higher percentage of females (20 percent) than males (13 percent) reported being the subject of rumors in 2009, while a lower percentage of females (8 percent ) than males (10 percent) reported being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on. Also, a higher percentage of females (6 percent) than males (4 percent) reported being excluded from activities on purpose.
  • In 2009, about 39 percent of 6th-graders reported being bullied at school, compared with 33 percent of 7th graders, 32 percent of 8th-graders, 28 percent of 9th-graders, 27 percent of 10th-graders, 21 percent of 11th-graders, and 20 percent of 12th-graders (Indicator 11).
  • Six percent of students ages 12–18 reported being cyber-bullied in 2009. About 3 percent reported being subject to harassing text messages (Indicator 11). About 4 percent of females reported being subject to harassing text messages compared with 2 percent of males.
  • In 2007–08, about 34 percent of teachers agreed or strongly agreed that student misbehavior interfered with their teaching, and 32 percent reported that student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching (Indicator 12). Seventy-two percent of teachers agreed or strongly agreed that other teachers at their school enforced the school rules, and 89 percent reported that the principal enforced the school rules.
  • A higher percentage of secondary school teachers than elementary school teachers reported that student misbehavior (39 percent vs. 33 percent) and student tardiness and class cutting (45 percent vs. 26 percent) interfered with their teaching in 2007–08 (Indicator 12). During the same year, a lower percentage of secondary school teachers than elementary school teachers agreed that school rules were enforced by teachers (56 percent vs. 79 percent) and by the principal in their school (86 percent vs. 89 percent).


Fights, Weapons, and Illegal Substances

  • In 2009, about 31 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported they had been in a physical fight at least one time during the previous 12 months anywhere, and 11 percent said they had been in a fight on school property during the previous 12 months.  Generally, a higher percentage of students in 9th grade reported having been in fights than students in any other grade, both anywhere and on school property. Generally, a smaller percentage of Asian students reported being in fights anywhere and on school property than students of other racial/ethnic groups. In addition, 4 percent of males said they had been in a fight anywhere twelve or more times, compared to 1 percent of females, and 1 percent of males said they had been in a fight on school property twelve or more times, compared to less than half a percent of females (Indicator 13).
  • Between 1993 and 2009, the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon at least one day anywhere during the past 30 days declined from 22 percent to 17 percent, and the percentage who reported carrying a weapon at least one day on school property also declined, from 12 percent to 6 percent (Indicator 14).
  • In 2009, about 27 percent of males carried a weapon anywhere, compared to 7 percent of females, and 8 percent of males carried a weapon on school property, compared to 3 percent of females (Indicator 14).
  • In 2009, about 42 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported having at least one drink of alcohol anywhere in the past 30 days, while 4 percent had at least one drink on school property (Indicator 15).
  • Since 2003, there has been no measurable difference between the percentages of male and female students in grades 9–12 who reported alcohol consumption anywhere. However, there were differences in the reporting of how often alcohol was consumed in 2009. One percent of male students reported consuming alcohol anywhere all thirty days (figure 15.2 and table 15.3). In terms of alcohol use on school property, a greater percentage of males reported using alcohol at least one time during the previous 30 days than did females in every survey year (Indicator 15).
  • In 2009, about 21 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported using marijuana anywhere in the past 30 days, while 5 percent reported using marijuana on school property. According to students' reports, male students were twice as likely as females to use marijuana on school property (6 percent vs. 3 percent, respectively). Six percent of male students reported using marijuana anywhere 40 times or more during the previous 30 days, compared to 2 percent of females (Indicator 16).
  • Generally among 9th–12th-graders, the percentage of Asian students reporting using marijuana anywhere and on school property during the previous 30 days was smaller than that of most other racial/ethnic groups. In addition, the percentage of students reporting using marijuana anywhere increased with grade level: a smaller percentage of 9th-graders reported using marijuana anywhere (16 percent), than 10th-graders (21 percent), 11th-graders (23 percent), and 12th-graders (25 percent) (Indicator 16).


Fear and Avoidance

  • In 2009, a higher percentage of students ages 12–18 reported that they were afraid of attack or harm at school (4 percent) than away from school (3 percent) during the school year (Indicator 17).
  • Higher percentages of 6th-graders and 7th-graders (6 percent each) reported being afraid of attack or harm at school than 8th-graders (4 percent) and 11th-graders (3 percent) (Indicator 17).
  • The percentage of students who reported that they had avoided at least one school activity or one or more places in school during the previous school year because of fear of attack or harm decreased from 7 percent in 2007 to 5 percent in 2009. Specifically, in 2009, about 2 percent of students avoided at least one school activity, and 4 percent avoided one or more places in school (Indicator 18).
  • Discipline, Safety, and Security Measures
  • During the 2009–10 school year, 39 percent of public schools (about 32,300 schools) took at least one serious disciplinary action against a student for specific offenses. Of the 433,800 serious disciplinary actions taken during the 2009–10 school year, 74 percent were suspensions for 5 days or more, 20 percent were transfers to specialized schools, and 6 percent were removals with no services for the remainder of the school year (Indicator 19).
  • The percentage of public schools taking at least one serious disciplinary action declined over time between 1999–2000 (54 percent) and 2009–10 (39 percent); and the percentage was lower in 2009–10 than in 2007–08 (46 percent). (Indicator 19).
  • During the 2009–10 school year, 93 percent of public schools reported that they limited access to social networking websites from school computers, and 91 percent prohibited the use of cell phones and text messaging devices during school hours (Indicator 20).
  • Between the 1999–2000 and 2009–10 school years, there was an increase in the percentage of public schools reporting the use of the following safety and security measures: controlled access to the building during school hours (from 75 to 92 percent); controlled access to school grounds during school hours (from 34 to 46 percent); faculty required to wear badges or picture IDs (from 25 to 63 percent); the use of one or more security cameras to monitor the school (from 19 to 61 percent); the provision of telephones in most classrooms (from 45 to 74 percent); and the requirement that students wear uniforms (from 12 to 19 percent) (Indicator 20).
  • In the 2007–08 school year a lower percentage of public schools reported the use of an electronic notification system for a school wide emergency (43 percent) and a structured, anonymous threat reporting system (31 percent) than in the 2009–10 school year (63 percent and 36 percent, respectively) (Indicator 20).
  • In 2009, nearly all students (99 percent) ages 12–18 reported that they had observed the use of at least one of the selected security measures at their schools.  The majority of students ages 12–18 reported that their schools had a code of student conduct (96 percent) and a requirement that visitors sign in (94 percent). Approximately 68 percent of students reported the presence of security guards and/or assigned police officers, and 91 percent reported the presence of other school staff or other adult supervision in the hallway. Metal detectors were the least observed of the selected safety and security measures: 11 percent of students reported the use of metal detectors at their schools (Indicator 21).



1 "School-associated violent death" is defined as "a homicide, suicide, or legal intervention (involving a law enforcement officer), in which the fatal injury occurred on the campus of a functioning elementary or secondary school in the United States." Victims of school-associated violent deaths included students, staff members, and others who are not students.
2 "At school" includes the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school.
3 "Theft" includes attempted and completed pursesnatching, completed pickpocketing, and all attempted and completed thefts, excluding motor vehicle theft. Theft does not include robbery, in which the threat or use of force is involved.
4 "Violent victimization" includes serious violent crimes and simple assault.
5 "Serious violent victimization" includes rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault.
6 "Violent incidents" include rape, sexual battery other than rape, physical attack or fight with or without a weapon, threat of physical attack with or without a weapon, and robbery with or without a weapon.
7 "Serious violent incidents" include rape, sexual battery other than rape, physical attack or fight with a weapon, threat of physical attack with a weapon, and robbery with or without a weapon.
8 "Theft or larceny" includes taking things worth over $10 without personal confrontation. Please see appendix B for a more detailed definition.
9 "At school" includes the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school.
10 "Theft" includes attempted and completed purse-snatching, completed pickpocketing, and all attempted and completed thefts, excluding motor vehicle theft. Theft does not include robbery, in which the threat or use of force is involved.
11 "Violent victimization" includes serious violent crimes and simple assault.
12 "Serious violent victimization" includes rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault.
13 "On school property" was not defined for survey respondents.
14 Subtotals do not add to total due to rounding.
15 "At school" was defined for respondents to include activities that happen in school buildings, on school grounds, on school buses, and at places that hold school-sponsored events or activities. Respondents were instructed to include incidents that occurred before, during, or after normal school hours or when school activities or events were in session.
16 "Other incidents" include possession of a firearm or explosive device; possession of a knife or sharp object; distribution, possession, or use of illegal drugs or alcohol; vandalism; and inappropriate distribution, possession, or use of prescription drugs.
17 "On school property" was not defined for survey respondents.
18 "Avoided school activities" includes avoiding any (extracurricular) activities, skipping class, or staying home from school. In 2007 and 2009, the survey wording was changed from "any extracurricular activities" to "any activities." Please use caution when comparing changes in this item over time. Avoiding one or more places in school includes avoiding the entrance, any hallways or stairs, parts of the cafeteria, restrooms, and other places inside the school building.
19 Readers should note that this indicator relies on student reports of security measures and provides estimates based on students' awareness of the measure rather than on documented practice. Selected security measures include, for example, controlling access during school hours, drug testing and prohibiting tobacco use, requiring ID badges, metal detectors, and sweeps and technology. For a more detailed list of selected security measures and a summary of the use of various security measures as reported by schools please see Indicator 20.

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