Sixteen percent of public schools recorded at least one incident of serious violent crime in 2009–10; this was lower than the 20 percent of schools recording at least one incident in 1999–2000.
In the School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS), public school principals were asked to provide the number of incidents of specific crimes that were recorded as occurring at their schools, as well as the number of these incidents that were reported to the police. Incidents of crime were then categorized as serious violent incidents, violent incidents (which include serious violent incidents), theft/larceny, and “other” incidents. Violent incidents include physical attacks or fights without a weapon, or threats of physical attacks without a weapon, plus serious violent incidents. Serious violent incidents include rape or attempted rape, sexual battery other than rape, physical attacks or fights with a weapon or threats of physical attacks with a weapon, and robbery with or without a weapon. During the 2009–10 school year, 85 percent of public schools indicated that one or more of these crime incidents had taken place, a percentage not measurably different from that in either 1999–2000 (86 percent) or 2007–08 (85 percent) (see table A-14-1). About 60 percent of public schools reported at least one incident of crime to the police in 2009–10, a percentage not measurably different from that in 1999–2000 or 2007–08 (62 percent each).
There was no consistent pattern of change between 1999–2000 and 2009–10 in the percentage of schools recording at least one violent incident or the percentage reporting at least one violent incident to the police; nor were measurable differences detected in the percentages between 2007–08 and 2009–10. However, the percentage of schools recording one or more serious violent incidents declined between 1999–2000 and 2009–10 from 20 to 16 percent. The percentage of schools that reported at least one serious violent incident to the police declined between 1999–2000 and 2009–10 from 15 to 10 percent; the percentage also declined between school years 2007–08 (13 percent) and 2009–10.
Although 26 percent of schools recorded no violent incidents in 2009–10, many schools recorded multiple incidents. Some 8 percent of schools recorded 1 or 2 incidents, 29 percent recorded 3–9 incidents, 18 percent recorded 10–19 incidents, and 19 percent recorded 20 or more such incidents. Although most schools (84 percent) recorded no serious violent incidents, some schools recorded one or more such incidents. Eleven percent of schools recorded 1 or 2 violent incidents, 4 percent recorded 3–9 violent incidents, and 2 percent recorded 10 or more such incidents.
The percentage of public schools that recorded incidents of violent crime or incidents of serious violent crime in 2009–10 varied by school characteristics. For example, a lower percentage of rural schools (14 percent) than suburban (19 percent), town (21 percent), and city schools (25 percent) recorded 20 or more violent incidents (see table A-14-2). The percentage of low-poverty schools recording at least one serious violent incident (10 percent) was lower than the percentages of mid-low-poverty schools (16 percent), mid-high-poverty schools (16 percent), and high-poverty schools (23 percent) doing so. Low-poverty schools are those where 25 percent or less of the students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL). Mid-low-poverty, mid-high-poverty, and high-poverty schools are those where 26 to 50 percent, 51 to 75 percent, and 76 percent or more of the students, respectively, were eligible for FRPL.
Theft/larceny (taking things worth over $10 without personal confrontation) includes pocket picking, stealing a purse or backpack (if left unattended or no force was used to take it from owner), theft from a building, theft from a motor vehicle or of motor vehicle parts or accessories, theft of bicycles, theft from vending machines, and all other types of thefts. Other incidents include possession of a firearm or explosive device; possession of a knife or sharp object; inappropriate distribution, possession, or use of prescription drugs; distribution, possession, or use of illegal drugs or alcohol; vandalism; and student sexual harassment of other students. “At school” was defined 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. For more information on the School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS), see Appendix B – Guide to Sources. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. For more information on race/ethnicity, locale, and poverty, see Appendix C – Commonly Used Measures.
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