In 2007, about 23 percent of students reported that gangs were present at their school.
Gangs are organized groups often involved in drugs, weapons trafficking, and violence. Gangs at school can be disruptive to the school environment because their presence may incite fear among students and increase the level of school violence (Laub and Lauritsen 1998). In the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, students ages 12–18 were asked if gangs were present at their school.24
In 2007, 23 percent of students reported that there were gangs at their schools during the school year (figure 8.1 and table 8.1). During the same year, a greater percentage of male students (25 percent) than female students (21 percent) reported a gang presence at their schools. Overall, a smaller percentage of White students (16 percent) and Asian students (17 percent) reported a gang presence at school than Black students (38 percent) and Hispanic students (36 percent) in 2007.
Generally, a smaller percentage of 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-graders reported a gang presence at their school than 9th-, 10th-, 11th-, and 12th-graders. In 2007, between 15 and 21 percent of 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-graders reported a gang presence at school compared to 24 to 28 percent of students in the higher grades. In 2007, a higher percentage of students attending public schools (25 percent) reported a gang presence at school than students attending private schools (5 percent).
The total percentage of students who reported the presence of gangs at school was higher in 2005 (24 percent) than in 2003 (21 percent); however there was no measurable change in the percentage of students who reported the presence of gangs at school between the two most recent survey years (2005 and 2007) (figure 8.2 and table 8.1).