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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2005

Indicator 9:
Studentsí Reports of Gangs at School

In 2003, students ages 12-18 in urban schools were the most likely to report the presence of street gangs at their school, followed by their counterparts in suburban and rural schools.

Street gangs are organized groups often involved in drugs, weapons trafficking, and violence. Such street gangs at school can be very disruptive to the school environment because their presence may incite fear among students and increase the level of school violence (Laub and Lauritsen 1998). In the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, students ages 12-18 were asked if street gangs were present at their school during the previous 6 months.

In 2003, 21 percent of students reported that there were gangs at their schools (table 9.1). Of all the students surveyed, students in urban schools were the most likely to report the presence of street gangs at their school (31 percent), followed by suburban students and rural students, who were the least likely to do so (18 and 12 percent, respectively). Between 2001 and 2003, no difference was detected in the percentage of students who reported the presence of street gangs, regardless of school location.

Hispanic and Black students were more likely than White students to report the existence of street gangs in their schools in 2003 (37 and 29 percent, respectively, vs. 14 percent; figure 9.1 and table 9.1). This pattern also held among students in urban schools and suburban schools. For rural students, although it appears that Black students (22 percent) were more likely than White and Hispanic students (11 and 13 percent, respectively) to report the existence of street gangs, the difference was not statistically significant.

Students in public schools were more likely to report the presence of street gangs than students in private schools regardless of the school’s location (figure 9.2 and table 9.1). In 2003, 23 percent of students in public schools reported that there were street gangs in their schools, compared with 4 percent of students in private schools. Among public school students, students in urban schools were the most likely to report the presence of street gangs at their school, followed by suburban students and rural students (34, 20, and 13 percent, respectively). For private school students, no significant difference was detected according to urbanicity.

Figure 9.1. Percentage of students ages 12-18 who reported that street gangs were present at school during the previous 6 months, by urbanicity and race/ethnicity: 2003

Percentage of students ages 12-18 who reported that street gangs were present at school during the previous 6 months, by urbanicity and race/ethnicity: 2003

1 Other includes Asians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians (including Alaska Natives), and students who indicated they were more than one race. For this report, non-Hispanic students who identified themselves as more than one race in 2003 (1 percent of all respondents) were included in the other category. Respondents who identified themselves as being of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of their race.
NOTE: “At school” was defined as in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, or going to and from school.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2003.
Figure 9.2. Percentage of students ages 12-18 who reported that street gangs were present at school during the previous 6 months, by school sector and urbanicity: 2003

Percentage of students ages 12-18 who reported that street gangs were present at school during the previous 6 months, by school sector and urbanicity: 2003

NOTE: “At school” was defined as in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, or going to and from school.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2003.
View Table 9.1 View Table 9.1


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