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

A note about the Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2008 report: An error discovered in the labeling of the number of incidents per 1,000 students in Indicator 6: Violent and Other Crime Incidents at Public Schools and Those Reported to the Police has been corrected in the 2008 version. This revision to the 2008 edition does not affect the 2009 edition. Within Indicator 6, corrections have been made to the text, figures 6.1 and 6.2, and tables 6.1, 6.4, and 6.5. The report was updated November 23, 2009 to include these revisions. In addition, three standard error supplemental tables—S6.1, S6.4, and S.6.5—were corrected and replaced.

Executive Summary

Our nation's schools should be safe havens for teaching and learning, free of crime and violence. Any instance of crime or violence at school not only affects the individuals involved, but also may disrupt the educational process and affect bystanders, the school itself, and the surrounding community (Henry 2000).

Ensuring safer schools requires establishing good indicators of the current state of school crime and safety across the nation and regularly updating and monitoring these indicators. This is the aim of Indicators of School Crime and Safety.

This report is the eleventh in a series of annual publications produced jointly by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Institute of Education Sciences (IES), in the U.S. Department of Education, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the U.S. Department of Justice. This report presents the most recent data available on school crime and student safety. The indicators in this report are based on information drawn from a variety of data sources, including national surveys of students, teachers, and principals. Sources include results from a study of violent deaths in schools, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the National Crime Victimization Survey and School Crime Supplement to the survey, sponsored by the BJS and NCES, respectively; the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and the Schools and Staffing Survey and School Survey on Crime and Safety, both sponsored by NCES. The most recent data collection for each indicator varied by survey, from 2003–04 to 2007. Each data source has an independent sample design, data collection method, and questionnaire design or is the result of a universe data collection. All comparisons described in this report are statistically significant at the .05 level. In 2005 and 2007, the final response rate for students ages 12–18 for the School Crime Supplement (60 percent),1 fell below NCES statistical standards; therefore, interpret the 2005 and 2007 data from Indicators 3, 8, 10, 11, 17, 18, and 21, with caution. Additional information about methodology and the datasets analyzed in this report may be found in appendix A PDF File (301 KB).

This report covers topics such as victimization, fights, bullying, classroom disorder, weapons, student perceptions of school safety, teacher injury, and availability and student use of drugs and alcohol. Indicators of crime and safety are compared across different population subgroups and over time. Data on crimes that occur away from school are offered as a point of comparison where available.


1 Analysis of unit nonresponse found evidence that for some demographic groups, there may be a response bias in that the nonrespondents have different characteristics than those who responded. Weighting adjustments, which corrected for differential response rates, should have reduced the problem. Therefore, while the results are valid, in interpreting the data from Indicators 3, 8, 10, 11, 17, 18, and 21, a reader should understand that these estimates may have larger and unmeasured sources of survey error than other estimates.

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