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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2011
NCES 2012-002
February 2012

Indicator 1: Violent Deaths at School and Away From School

Over all available survey years, 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.

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 cover the time period from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010. During this time period, there were 33 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 33 student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths occurring between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010, 25 were homicides, 5 were suicides, and 3 were legal interventions20 (table 1.2). Data for school-associated violent deaths for the 2009–10 school year are preliminary.

Data on homicides and suicides at-school and away-from-school were drawn from a number of sources. The 'away-from-school' data were included in order to compare 'at-school' and 'away from school'. 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 2008 calendar year; the most recent data available for total homicides of youth ages 5–18 are for the 2008–09 school year.21 During 2008–09, there were 1,579 homicides of youth ages 5–18 (figure 1.2 and tables 1.1). During the 2008 calendar year, there were 1,344 suicides of youth ages 5–18. From July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, there were 17 homicides and 1 suicide of school-age youth at school (figure 1.1 and tables 1.1). During the 2009–10 school year, there was approximately one homicide or suicide of a school-age youth at school per 2.7 million students enrolled. 22

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 tables 1.1). Between the 1992–93 and 2009–10 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.

This indicator has been updated to include 2009–10 data. For more information: Tables 1.1 and 1.2 and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008), (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5702a1.htm).


20 A death that occurred where the decedent was fatally injured by a law enforcement officer or other peace officer (persons with specified legal authority to use deadly force), acting in the line of duty.
21 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 (2009) and total homicides (200910) are not yet available.
22 The total number of students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade during the 200910 school year was 49,373,307 (Snyder and Dillow 2011).


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