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

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

In 2007, approximately 5 percent of students ages 12–18 reported that they were afraid of attack or harm at school, compared to 3 percent of students who reported that they were afraid of attack or harm away from school.

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 Supplement40 to the National Crime Victimization Survey, students ages 12–18 were asked how often they had been afraid of attack or harm "at school or on the way to and from school" and "away from school."41 In 2007, a greater percentage of students ages 12–18 reported that they were afraid of attack or harm at school (5 percent) than away from school (3 percent) during the school year (figure 17.1 and table 17.1).

Students' reports on their fears about their safety varied by location and race/ethnicity. For example, in 2007, smaller percentages of White students (4 percent) and Asian students (2 percent) reported being afraid of attack or harm at school than their Black (9 percent) and Hispanic (7 percent) peers. Away from school, a smaller percentage of White students (3 percent) than Black students (5 percent) and Hispanic students (6 percent) reported being afraid of attack or harm.

Other differences in students' reports on their safety were detected by student and school characteristics in 2007. For example, a higher percentage of 6th-graders (10 percent) reported being afraid of attack or harm at school than 7th-graders (7 percent), 8th-graders (5 percent), 9th-graders (6 percent), 10th-graders (5 percent), and 11th- and 12th-graders (3 percent each). Away from school, a larger percentage of 6thgraders (6 percent) were afraid of attack or harm than students in the 10th, 11th, or 12th grades (2 to 3 percent).

A greater percentage of female students (6 percent) feared for their safety at school than male students (5 percent) in 2007. The same was true away from school: 5 percent of females feared for their safety compared to 2 percent of males.

School sector was also related to students' fear of attack or harm. A greater percentage of students in public schools (6 percent) reported being afraid of being attacked or harmed at school than students attending private schools (2 percent). There was no significant difference in the percentage of public and private school students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school.

Between 1995 and 2007, the percentage of students who feared attack or harm at school decreased from 12 to 5 percent. Between the two most recent survey years, 2005 and 2007, the percentage of students who feared attack or harm at school was lower in 2007 (5 percent) than in 2005 (6 percent). Away from school, there was no pattern of increase or decrease in the percentage of students who feared attack or harm between 1999 and 2007. However, the percentage of students who feared attack or harm away from school was smaller in 2007 (3 percent) than in 2005 (5 percent).

This indicator has been updated to include 2007 data. For more information: Table 17.1 and Bauer et al. (2008).

40 In 2005 and 2007, the unit response rate for this survey did not meet NCES statistical standards; therefore, interpret the data with caution. In 2007, the reference period was the school year, whereas in prior survey years the reference period was the previous 6 months. Cognitive testing showed that estimates from 2007 are comparable to previous years. For more information, please see appendix A PDF File (301 KB).
41 "At school" includes the school building, on school property, on a school bus.

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