School crime may lead students to perceive school as unsafe, and in trying to ensure their own safety, students may begin to skip school activities or avoid certain places within school (Schreck and Miller 2003). Changes in the percentage of students who avoid school activities and certain areas in school may be a good barometer of their perceptions of school safety. In the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, students ages 12–18 were asked whether they had avoided school activities or one or more places in the school because they were fearful. In 2003, 5 percent of students reported that they avoided school activities or one or more places in school in the previous 6 months because they were fearful: 2 percent of students avoided school activities (skipped extracurricular activities, skipped class, or stayed home from school), and 4 percent of students avoided one or more places in school (the entrance to the school, any hallways or stairs in the school, any parts of the school cafeteria, any school restrooms, and other places inside the school building; table 18.1).
The percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported that they either avoided school activities or one or more places in school because they were fearful decreased from 7 percent in 1999 to 5 percent in 2003 (table 18.1 and figure 18.1).
Students’ reports of avoiding one or more places in school varied according to race/ ethnicity. In 2003, 3 percent of White students reported avoiding certain areas, compared with 5 percent of Black students and 6 percent of Hispanic students (table 18.2). As in all previous survey years, in 2003, no difference was detected in the extent to which students avoided places according to their sex.
Generally, grade level was inversely associated with students’ likelihood of avoiding places in school. In 2003, 6 percent of 6th-graders avoided one or more places in school, compared with 1 percent of 12th-graders (figure 18.2 and table 18.2). In the same year, students in urban areas were the most likely to avoid places in school: 6 percent of urban students reported that they had done so, compared with 4 percent of suburban and 3 percent of rural students. In addition, public school students were more likely than private school students to avoid places in school (4 vs. 2 percent).
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