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

Indicator 17: Students' Perceptions of Personal Safety at School and Away From School

In 2005, as grade level increased, the percentage of students reporting fear of an attack at school or on the way to and from school decreased.

School violence can make students fearful and affect their readiness and ability to learn, and concerns about vulnerability to attacks detract from a positive school environment (Scheckner et al. 2002). In the School Crime Supplement23 to the National Crime Victimization Survey, students ages 12–18 were asked how often they had been afraid of attack "at school or on the way to and from school" and "away from school" during the previous 6 months.24

In 2005, approximately 6 percent of students ages 12–18 reported that they were afraid of attack or harm at school, and 5 percent reported that they were afraid of attack or harm away from school. There was no measurable change between 2003 and 2005 in the percentage of students reporting fear of attack or harm at or away from school (figure 17.1 and table 17.1). Consistent with findings from 1999 and 2001, students in 2005 were more likely to report being afraid of an attack at school than away from school. The percentage of students who reported that they were afraid of being attacked at school (including on the way to and from school) decreased from 12 to 6 percent between 1995 and 2001; however, no measurable difference was detected between 2001 and 2005. Similarly, there was no change in the percentage of students who feared such an attack away from school between 1999 and 2005.

Black and Hispanic students were more likely than White students to fear for their safety regardless of location in 2005 (figure 17.2 and table 17.1). Nine percent of Black students and 10 percent of Hispanic students reported that they were afraid of being attacked at school (including on the way to and from school), compared with 4 percent of White students. Away from school, 7 percent of Black students, 6 percent of Hispanic students, and 4 percent of White students reported that they were afraid of an attack. There was no measurable change between 2003 and 2005 in the percentage of students who feared for their safety in either location among White, Black, or Hispanic students.

In 2005, as grade level increased, students' fear of an attack at school or on the way to and from school decreased. In the same year, 10 percent of 6th-graders, 6 percent of 9th-graders, and 3 percent of 12th-graders feared for their safety at school or on the way to and from school.

School location was also related to students' fear of attack. In 2005, students in urban schools were more likely than students in suburban and rural schools to fear being attacked at school or on the way to and from school. Ten percent of students in urban schools feared being attacked at school, compared with 5 percent each of their peers in suburban and rural schools.

School sector was also related to students' fear of attack. In every survey year, students in public schools were more likely than students in private schools to fear being attacked at school. In 2005, about 6 percent of public school students feared being attacked at school, compared with 4 percent of private school students. Although it appears that the public school students were generally more likely than their counterparts in private schools to fear being attacked away from school in 2005, these differences were not found to be statistically significant.


23 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).
24 For the 2001 survey, the wording was changed to "attack or threat of attack." Includes students who reported that they sometimes or most of the time feared being victimized in this way.

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