School Crime and Safety

For students to succeed, their educational environment must be safe, secure and orderly. To this end, schools must cultivate a climate of respect, free of disruption, drugs, violence and weapons.

Students who are victimized at school are prone to truancy,[1] poor academic performance,[2] dropping out of school[3] and violent behaviors.[4] Although schools can be safe havens relative to the communities in which they are located, school safety and security remain pressing issues.

In 2012, students ages 12 to 18 experienced an estimated 615,600 incidents of theft and 749,200 violent victimizations while at school.[5] In 2011, 7 percent of students in grades 9 through 12 reported being threatened with a weapon such as a firearm, knife or club while on school property.[6]

Educators have responded by implementing programs and adopting policies to address issues of school safety and violence prevention. With more than 55 million students enrolled in 120,000 primary and secondary public schools throughout the U.S., there is an ever-present need to take steps to further enhance school safety and security.

The good news is that theft, violent crime and student homicides in American schools (with children in grades K-12) have declined over the past decade. A growing body of evidence shows that violence prevention programs can help to reduce opportunities for criminal behaviors and effectively instruct young people on other ways to resolve conflict and express their feelings safely. Schools and communities can work together to make these programs available and prevent violence before it occurs.

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Notes

[1] Ringwalt, Christopher L., Susan Ennett, Ruby Johnson, Louise Ann Rohrbach, Ashley Simons-Rudolph, Amy Vincus, and Judy Thorne, “Factors Associated With Fidelity to Substance Use Prevention Curriculum Guides in the Nation’s Middle Schools,” Health Education & Behavior 30 (June 2003): 375-391.

[2] MacMillan, Ross, and John Hagan, “Violence in the Transition to Adulthood: Adolescent Victimization, Education, and Socioeconomic Attainment in Later Life,” Journal of Research on Adolescence 1 (June 2004): 127-158.

[3] MacMillan, Ross, and John Hagan, “Violence in the Transition to Adulthood: Adolescent Victimization, Education, and Socioeconomic Attainment in Later Life,” Journal of Research on Adolescence 1 (June 2004): 127-158.

[4] Nansel, Tonja R., Mary D. Overpeck, Denise L. Haynie, W. June Ruan, and Peter C. Scheidt, “Relationships Between Bullying and Violence Among U.S. Youth,” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 157 (April 2003): 348-353.

[5] Robers, Simone, Jana Kemp, Amy Rathbun, Rachel E. Morgan, and Thomas D. Snyder, Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2013. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, June 2014, NCES 2014-042/NCJ 243299.

[6] Robers, Simone, Jana Kemp, Amy Rathbun, Rachel E. Morgan, and Thomas D. Snyder, Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2013. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, June 2014, NCES 2014-042/NCJ 243299.