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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2005

Indicator 21:
Studentsí Reports of Safety and Security Measures Observed at School

In 2003, nearly all students ages 12-18 observed the presence of one or more of the selected security measures at their school.

Schools use a variety of measures to promote the safety of students, ranging from codes of student conduct to metal detectors. However, research suggests that aggressive use of some security measures in schools can alienate students, increase distrust and misbehavior among students, and disrupt the school environment by interfering with learning (Beger 2003). The School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey asked students ages 12-18 whether they observed certain security measures at their schools. Readers should note that this indicator relies on student reports of security measures and provides estimates based on students' awareness of the measure rather than actual practice. (See Indicator 20 for use of measures as reported by schools.) In 2003, nearly all (99 percent) of students ages 12-18 observed one or more of the selected security measures at their school including metal detectors, locker checks, security cameras, security guards and/or police officers, adult supervision in hallways, a requirement that students wear badges or picture IDs, a code of student conduct, locked entrance or exit doors during the day, and a requirement that visitors sign in (figure 21.1 and table 21.1).

In 2003, 95 percent of students reported that their school had a student code of conduct, making it the most often observed safety and security measure, and 92 percent reported a requirement that visitors sign in. While 7 in 10 students observed security guards and/or police officers, 9 in 10 students reported observing other school staff or adult supervision in the hallway. Roughly half of students each reported locker checks, locked entrance or exit doors during the day, and observing one or more security cameras to monitor the school (53, 53, and 48 percent, respectively). Twenty-three percent of students reported ID badges were required at school, and 1 in 10 students reported the use of metal detectors.

The percentage of students reporting the presence of many school security measures increased between 1999 and 2003 (figure 21.1 and table 21.1). The percentage of students who reported their schools using visitor sign-in increased from 87 to 92 percent during this period, and the percentage who reported the presence of locked entrance or exit doors during the school day increased from 38 to 53 percent. Over the same period, there was also an increase in both the percentage observing security guards and/or police officers and the percentage observing other school staff or adult supervision in the hallway (from 54 to 70 percent and from 85 to 91 percent, respectively). The percentage of students who observed security cameras, a question that was only asked in the 2001 and 2003 surveys, increased as well—from 39 to 48 percent. In all survey years reported, no differences could be detected in the percentage reporting metal detectors, locker checks, the requirement of ID badges, or a code of student conduct.

Figure 21.1. Percentage of students ages 12-18 who reported selected security measures at school: 1999, 2001, and 2003

Percentage of students ages 12-18 who reported selected security measures at school: 1999, 2001, and 2003

1 Data for 1999 are not available.
NOTE: In the 1999 survey, “at school” was defined as in the school building, on the school grounds, or on a school bus. In the 2001 and 2003 surveys, “at school” was defined as in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, or going to and from school. Some questions asked in the 2001 and 2003 questionnaires were not asked in the 1999 questionnaire.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 1999, 2001, and 2003.
View Table 21.1 View Table 21.1


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