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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2010
NCES 2011-002
November 2010

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, and the percentage of youth suicides occurring at school remained at less than 1 percent of the total number of youth suicides over all available survey years.

Violent deaths at schools are rare but tragic events with far-reaching effects on the school population and surrounding community. In this indicator, data on school-associated violent deaths are collected using the School Associated Violent Deaths Surveillance Study (SAVD).

The most recent data collected for this survey covers the time period from July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2009. During this time period, there were 38 school-associated violent deaths in elementary and secondary schools in the United States (figure 1.1 and tables 1.1 and 1.2). A school-associated violent death is defined as "a homicide, suicide, or legal intervention (involving a law enforcement officer), 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 not only students and staff members, but also others who are not students or staff members, such as parents. School-associated violent deaths include those 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. Of the 38 student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths occurring between July 1, 2008, and June 30, 2009, 24 were homicides and 14 were suicides (table 1.2). Data for school-associated violent deaths for the 2008–09 school year are preliminary.

Data on homicides and suicides at-school and away from- school were drawn from a number of sources, while ‘away-from-school’ is added as a point of comparison. The availability for data on homicides and data on suicides at-school and away-from-school differs in time period. The most recent data available for total suicides of school-age youth only (youth ages 5–18) are for the 2007 calendar year; the most recent data available for total homicides of youth ages 5–18 are for the 2007–08 school year.2 During 2007–08, there were 1,701 homicides of youth ages 5–18 (figure 1.2 and table 1.1). During the 2007 calendar year, there were 1,231 suicides of youth ages 5–18. From July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2009, there were 15 homicides and 7 suicides of school-age youth at school (figure 1.1 and table 1.1). In each year during the period 1992–93 to 2007–08, there were at least 50 times as many homicides of youth away from school than at school and generally at least 150 times as many suicides of youth away from school than at school. During the 2008–09 school year, there was approximately one homicide or suicide of a school-age youth at school per 2.5 million students enrolled.3

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 (figure 1.1 and table 1.1). Between the 1992–93 and 2008–09 school years, from 1 to 10 school-age youth committed suicide at school each year, with no consistent pattern of increase or decrease in the number of suicides. The percentage of youth suicides occurring at school remained at less than 1 percent of the total number of youth suicides over all available survey years.

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2 Data on total suicides are available only by calendar year, whereas data on suicides and homicides at school and data on 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 (2008) and total homicides (2008–09) are not yet available.
3 The total number of students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade during the 2008–09 school year was 55,632,498 (Snyder and Dillow 2010).

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