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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2009
NCES 2010-012
December 2009

Indicator 2: Incidence of Victimization at School and Away From School

For the first time since 1992, in 2007 the rate for violent crime at school was higher than the rate experienced away from school. The 2007 victimization rates for serious violent crime at school and the rates away from school were not measurably different.

Theft and violence at school and en route to and from school can affect the overall health and well-being of adolescents, interfere with educational goals, and stall normal healthy development (Fredland 2008). Such victimization can also lead to higher than average rates of teacher turnover, student dropouts and transfers, and early retirement for principals and teachers (Crews, Crews, and Turner 2008).

In 2007, data from the National Crime Victimization Survey13 showed that students ages 12–18 were victims of about 1.5 million nonfatal crimes (theft14 and violent crime15) while they were at school,16 compared to about 1.1 million nonfatal crimes while they were away from school (table 2.1).17 These figures represent total crime victimization rates of 57 crimes per 1,000 students at school and 41 crimes per 1,000 students away from school. Although there was an overall decline in the victimization rates for students ages 12–18 at school between 1992 and 2007, there was no measurable difference in the rate of crime at school between 2004 and 2007. This pattern describes the total crime rate as well as its three components: thefts, violent crimes, and serious violent crimes (figure 2.1). Between 1992 and 2007 the rates of total crime, thefts, violent crimes, and serious violent crimes for students away from school declined.

The 2007 survey estimates may indicate some trend changes. For the first time, rates of violent crime victimization at school were higher than rates of violent crime victimization away from school. In 2007, there were 26 violent crimes per 1,000 students at school, compared to 20 violent crimes per 1,000 students away from school.

In each survey year between 1992 and 2005, the rate of serious violent crime—rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault—per 1,000 students was lower at school than away from school. In 2007, however, there was no measurable difference between the rate of serious violent crimes per 1,000 students at school and the rate per 1,000 students away from school. In that year, students ages 12–18 were victims of 4 serious violent crimes per 1,000 students at school and 6 serious violent crimes per 1,000 students away from school.

Not all of the trends showed change. A greater percentage of students report experiencing theft at school than the other measured crimes. In 2007 the rate of thefts per 1,000 students was higher at school than away from school, which has generally held true for each survey year since 1992 (except 1997, 2000, and 2004) (figure 2.1). In 2007 there were 31 thefts per 1,000 students at school and 21 thefts per 1,000 students away from school.

In 2007, the victimization rates for students ages 12–18 varied according to student characteristics. The rate of violent crimes at school per 1,000 students was lower for older students (ages 15–18) than for younger students (ages 12–14), but the reverse was true for the rate of violent crimes away from school (figure 2.2 and tables 2.2 and 2.3). Females had lower rates than males for violent crime and total crime victimization occurring away from school, and they had lower rates of serious violent victimization than males both at school and away from school.

This indicator has been updated to include 2007 data. For more information: Tables 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3; Fredland 2008; and Crews, Crews, and Turner 2008.

13 Although Indicators 2 and 3 present information on similar topics, the survey sources for these two indicators differ with respect to time coverage and administration. For more information on these two surveys, please see appendix A.
14 Theft includes purse snatching, pick pocketing, all burglaries, attempted forcible entry, and all attempted and completed thefts except motor vehicle thefts. Theft does not include robbery in which threat or use of force is involved.
15 Violent crimes include serious violent crimes and simple assault.
16 "At school" includes inside the school building, on school property, or on the way to or from school.
17 "Students" refers to youth ages 12–18 whose educational attainment did not exceed grade 12 at the time of the survey. An uncertain percentage of these persons may not have attended school during the survey reference period. These data do not take into account the number of hours that students spend at school or away from school.
18 There were changes in the sample design and survey methodology in the 2006 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) that impacted survey estimates. Due to this redesign, 2006 data are not presented in this indicator. Data from 2007 are comparable to earlier years. For more information, please see appendix A.
19 Serious violent crimes include rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault.

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