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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2008
NCES 2009-022
April 2009

Indicator 1: Violent Deaths at School and Away From School

The percentage of youth homicides occurring at school remained at less than 2 percent of the total number of youth homicides over all available survey years even though the absolute number of homicides of schoolage youth at school varied to some degree across the years.

Violent deaths at schools are rare but tragic events with far-reaching effects on the school population and surrounding community. From July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2007, there were 55 school-associated violent deaths in elementary and secondary schools in the United States (tables 1.1 and 1.2).3 In this indicator, a school-associated violent death is defined as "a homicide, suicide, legal intervention (involving a law enforcement officer), or unintentional firearm-related death in which the fatal injury occurred on the campus of a functioning elementary or secondary school in the United States." Victims of school-associated violent deaths include students, staff members, and others who are not students. School-associated violent deaths include violent deaths that occurred while the victim was on the way to or returning from regular sessions at school, or while the victim was attending or traveling to or from an official school-sponsored event. At-school and away-from-school homicide and suicide data were drawn from a number of sources. Data for school-associated violent deaths for the 2006–07 school year are preliminary. Data for total suicides are available for 2005 and total homicides are available for 2005–06.4

The most recent data available for the total number of homicides of school-age youth are from the 2005–06 school year (figure 1.1 and table 1.1), during which there were 1,646 homicides. In the 2005 calendar year, there were 1,408 suicides of school-age youth. From July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2007, there were 27 homicides and 8 suicides of school-age youth (ages 5–18) at school (figure 1.2 and table 1.1). In each year during the period 1992–93 to 2005–06, there were generally at least 50 times as many murders of youth away from school than at school and generally at least 140 times as many suicides of youth away from school than at school.4 During the 2006–07 school year, there were approximately one homicide or suicide of a school-age youth at school per 1.6 million students enrolled.5

Between July 1, 1992, and June 30, 1999, no consistent pattern of increase or decrease was observed in the number of homicides at school (figure 1.2 and table 1.1). During this period, between 28 and 34 homicides of school-age youth occurred at school in each school year. The number of homicides of school-age youth at school was lower during the 1999–2000 school year than during the 1998–1999 school year (13 vs. 33 homicides). The number of homicides of school-age youth at school increased from 14 to 22 between the 2000–01 and 2003–04 school years, and then declined to 19 by the 2005–06 school year. In 2006–07, the number of homicides of school-age youth was 27. The percentage of youth homicides occurring at school remained at less than 2 percent of the total number of youth homicides over all available survey years even though the absolute number of homicides of school-age youth at school varied to some degree across the years. Between the 1992–93 and 2006–07 school years, from 1 to 9 school-age youth committed suicide at school each year, with no consistent pattern of increase or decrease in the number of suicides.

This indicator has been updated to include 2006–07 data. For more information: Tables 1.1 and 1.2 and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008a).

3 Between July 1, 2006, and June 30, 2007, there were 55 student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths, including 40 homicides, 12 suicides, 2 legal interventions, and 1 unintentional firearm-related death (table 1.2).
4 Data on total suicides are available only by calendar year, whereas data on suicides and homicides at school and total homicides are available by school year. Due to these differences in reference periods, please use caution when comparing violent deaths at school to total violent deaths. Data for total suicides (2006) and total homicides (2006–2007) are not yet available.
5 The total number of students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade during the 2006–07 school year was 55,394,000 (U.S. Department of Education 2009).

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