Skip Navigation
small NCES header image

Violence prevention

Do you have information on efforts to prevent violence in our schools?


Gun-Free Schools Act

The Gun-Free Schools Act (GFSA) was reauthorized by Section 4141 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110). GFSA requires that each state or outlying area receiving federal funds under the ESEA have a law that requires all local education agencies (LEAs) in these states and outlying areas to expel from school for at least one year any student determined to have brought a firearm to school, or to have possessed a firearm at school.

Overall, 50 states, the District of Columbia (D.C.), Puerto Rico, and outlying areas reported data under the GFSA for 2005–06 and 2006–07. They reported that they expelled 3,028 students determined to have brought a firearm to school in 2005–06, and 2,695 students in 2006–07. The expulsion rate was 6.1 students per every 100,000 students in 2005–06 and 5.5 per 100,000 in 2006–07.

  • In 2005–06, more than half of the expulsions (55 percent) involved students determined to have brought a handgun to school, 12 percent involved a rifle or shotgun, and 34 percent were for some other type of firearm or other destructive device, such as bombs, grenades or starter pistols.

  • In 2006–07, more than half of the expulsions (53 percent) involved a handgun, 10 percent of the incidents involved a rifle or shotgun, and 37 percent were for some other type of firearm or other destructive device.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education. (2010). Report on the Implementation of the Gun–Free Schools Act in the States and Outlying Areas: School Years 2005–06 and 2006–07.

School Administrative Practices

One approach to preventing or reducing violence in schools is to structure the way the school manages its student population.

  • During the 2009-10 school year, a higher percentage of schools with 1,000 or more students involved students in resolving student conduct problems as a component of violence prevention programs (60 percent) than did schools with lower enrollments (39 to 49 percent).

  • A higher percentage of suburban schools drilled students on a written plan describing procedures to be performed during a shooting (58 percent) than did city schools or rural schools (49 and 48 percent, respectively). The percentage of town schools (53 percent) that drilled students on this type of plan was not measurably different from the percentage of suburban schools.

  • Among the factors that were reported to limit schools' efforts to reduce or prevent crime "in a major way," three were more likely to be reported than others: inadequate funds (25 percent); a lack of, or inadequate, alternative placements or programs for disruptive students (21 percent); and federal, state, or district policies on disciplining special education students (16 percent.)

  • For students involved in the use or possession of a weapon other than a firearm or explosive device at school, 40 percent of students received out-of-school suspensions lasting 5 or more days, 36 percent of students received other disciplinary actions (e.g., suspensions for less than 5 days, detention, etc.), 19 percent of students received transfers to specialized schools, and 6 percent of students received removals with no continuing services for at least the remainder of the school year .

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education. (2011). Crime, Violence, Discipline, and Safety in U.S. Public Schools: Findings From the School Survey on Crime and Safety: 200910 First Look (NCES 2011-320).

Related Tables and Figures:  (Listed by Release Date)

Other Resources:  (Listed by Release Date)

Would you like to help us improve our products and website by taking a short survey?

YES, I would like to take the survey


No Thanks

The survey consists of a few short questions and takes less than one minute to complete.
National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education