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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2007
NCES 2008-021
December 2007

Indicator 8: Students' Reports of Gangs at School

The percentage of students reporting the presence of gangs at school increased from 21 to 24 percent between 2003 and 2005.

Gangs are organized groups often involved in drugs, weapons trafficking, and violence. Such gangs at school can be 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 Supplement17 to the National Crime Victimization Survey, students ages 12–18 were asked if gangs were present at their school during the previous 6 months.

In 2005, some 24 percent of students reported that there were gangs at their schools (figure 8.1 and table 8.1). Students in urban schools were more likely to report the presence of gangs at their school than suburban students and rural students (36 vs. 21 and 16 percent, respectively). No measurable difference was found between suburban and rural students in their likelihood of reporting gang presence.

The total percentage of students who reported the presence of gangs at school increased from 21 percent in 2003 to 24 percent in 2005. The only statistically significant increase in the reported presence of gangs occurred in urban schools; the percentage of students who reported that gangs were present at school increased from 31 to 36 percent during this period. No measurable change was found for the percentage of suburban or rural students reporting gang presence during this period.

Hispanic and Black students were more likely than White students to report gangs in their schools in 2005 (38 and 37 percent, respectively, vs. 17 percent; figure 8.2 and table 8.1). This pattern held among students in both urban and suburban schools. Between 2003 and 2005, reports of gangs increased among both Black students (29 vs. 37 percent) and White students (14 vs. 17 percent). No measurable change was detected in the percentage of Hispanic students reporting the presence of gangs between 2003 and 2005.

Students in public schools were more likely to report the presence of gangs than were students in private schools regardless of the school's location (table 8.1). In 2005, some 25 percent of students in public schools reported that there were gangs in their schools, compared with 4 percent of students in private schools.

In 2005, there were no measurable differences between males and females in the extent to which they reported gang presence in their schools, with the exception of males at suburban schools, who were more likely to report gang presence than females (22 vs. 19 percent). Between 2001 and 2005, the percentage of male students reporting the presence of gangs increased (from 21 to 25 percent), as did the percentage of suburban males reporting gang activity (from 19 to 22 percent). In the same time period, the percentage of urban females reporting gang activity also increased from 26 to 34 percent.


17 In 2005, the unit response rate for this survey did not meet NCES statistical standards; therefore, interpret the data with caution. For more information, please see appendix A PDF File (178 KB).

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