Theft and violence at school and on the way to and from school can be an obstacle to student achievement by creating a disruptive and threatening environment at school and can lead to emotional stress and physical injury for students (Payne, Gottfredson, and Gottfredson 2003). In the 2003 school year, an estimated 26.4 million students ages 12-18 were enrolled in U.S. schools. Data from the National Crime Victimization Survey show that students ages 12-18 were victims of about 1.9 million nonfatal crimes at school, including about 1.2 million thefts and 740,000 violent crimes (simple assault and serious violent crime)—150,000 of which were serious violent crimes (rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault; table 2.1).7 In the same year, students ages 12-18 were victims of about 1.6 million crimes while they were away from school, including about 750,000 thefts and 850,000 violent crimes—320,000 of which were serious violent crimes. These figures represent victimization rates of 73 total crimes per 1,000 students at school, and 60 total crimes per 1,000 students away from school.
While, overall, students ages 12-18 were more likely to be victims of crime at school than away from school, this relationship varied by type of crime. In 2003, students were more likely to be victims of theft at school and of serious violence away from school.8 That year, 45 thefts per 1,000 students occurred at school and 28 thefts per 1,000 students occurred away from school, while students reported being victims of serious violence at a rate of 12 crimes per 1,000 students away from school and 6 crimes per 1,000 students at school. In the same year, no difference was detected in the rates of violent victimization at school and away from school.
The victimization rate for students ages 12-18 generally declined both at school and away from school between 1992 and 2003; this was true for the total crime rate and for thefts, violent crimes, and serious violent crimes (figure 2.1 and table 2.1). However, when looking at the most recent years, no differences were detected between 2002 and 2003 in the rates of total victimization, violent victimization, or theft at school or away from school.
In 2003, males were more likely than females to be the victims of violent and serious violent crimes at school and away from school (figures 2.2 and 2.3 and tables 2.2 and 2.3). In the same year, younger students (ages 12-14) were more likely than older students (ages 15-18) to be victims of violent and serious violent crime at school, while older students were more likely to be victims away from school. The rates of violent and serious violent victimization at school were higher for urban students than for suburban and rural students, while away from school, rural students were more likely to report violent victimization than suburban students. No differences could be detected in the rate of theft at school by students’ sex, age, or urbanicity in 2003.
While it appears that victimization at school varied by students’ race/ethnicity, few significant differences were found. Black and White students were more likely to be victims of theft than Hispanic students and students of other race/ethnicities, but no other differences were detected by race/ethnicity in the rates of theft, violent crime, and serious violent crime.
|View Table 2.1||View Table 2.2||View Table 2.3|