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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2012
NCES 2013-036
2013

Indicator 7: Discipline Problems Reported by Public Schools

During the 2009–10 school year, 23 percent of public schools reported that bullying occurred among students on a daily or weekly basis, 9 percent reported student acts of disrespect for teachers other than verbal abuse on a daily or weekly basis, and 5 percent reported that student verbal abuse of teachers occurred on a daily or weekly basis. Sixteen percent reported gang activities during the school year.

In the School Survey on Crime and Safety, public school principals were asked how often certain disciplinary problems happened in their schools.21 This indicator examines the daily or weekly occurrence of student racial/ethnic tensions, bullying, sexual harassment of other students, sexual harassment of other students based on sexual orientation or gender identity, verbal abuse of teachers, acts of disrespect for teachers other than verbal abuse, and widespread disorder in the classroom. It also looks at occurrences of gang and cult or extremist group activities during the school year. In the 2009–10 survey administration, schools were also asked to report selected types of cyber- bullying problems at school or away from school that occurred daily or weekly.

During the 2009–10 school year, 23 percent of public schools reported that bullying occurred among students on a daily or weekly basis, and 9 percent reported student acts of disrespect for teachers other than verbal abuse on a daily or weekly basis (table 7.1). With regard to other discipline problems reported as occurring at least once a week, 5 percent of schools reported student verbal abuse of teachers, and 3 percent each of reported student racial/ethnic tensions, student sexual harassment of other students, sexual harassment of other students based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and widespread disorder in classrooms. Sixteen percent of public schools reported that gang activities had happened at all during the 2009–10 school year and 2 percent reported that cult or extremist activities had happened at all during this period.

Discipline problems reported by public schools varied by school characteristics. In 2009–10, a higher percentage of city schools than rural schools and suburban schools reported various types of discipline problems (figure 7.1 and table 7.1). For example, 27 percent of city schools, compared with 21 percent of rural schools and 20 percent of suburban schools, reported that student bullying occurred at least once a week. A greater percentage of city schools (28 percent) than suburban schools and rural schools (15 and 9 percent, respectively) reported any occurrence of gang activities during the school year.

In 2009–10, the percentage of middle schools reporting student racial and ethnic tension (5 percent) was higher than the percentage of high schools (3 percent) and primary schools (2 percent) that reported student racial and ethnic tension (table 7.1). Schools with an enrollment size of 1,000 or more reported higher percentages of student racial and ethnic tension (6 percent) than schools with an enrollment size of 500–999 or 300–499 (3 percent each).

In addition, 10 percent of schools where 76 percent or more of the students were eligible for free or reduced- price lunch reported the daily or weekly occurrence of student verbal abuse of teachers, compared to 1 percent of schools where 25 percent or less of the students were eligible.22

The percentages of public schools that reported the occurrence of student bullying, student verbal abuse of teachers, and student acts of disrespect for teachers other than verbal abuse were greater in 1999–2000 than in 2009–10. For example, in 1999–2000, approximately 29 percent of public schools reported student bullying, compared with 23 percent of public schools that reported student bullying in 2009–10.

Eleven percent of schools reported that student acts of disrespect for teachers other than verbal abuse occurred at least once a week in 2007–08, higher than the 9 percent in 2009–10 (table 7.2). The percentage of public schools that reported widespread disorder in the classrooms decreased from 4 percent in 2007–08 to 3 percent in 2009–10. The percentages of public schools that reported gang activity at all at their schools during the school year decreased from 20 percent in 2007–08 to 16 percent in 2009–10 (table 7.2).

In 2009–10 the School Survey on Crime and Safety included a questionnaire item on cyber-bullying in which public schools were asked to report the occurrence of cyber-bullying among students at school and away from school.23 Eight percent of public schools reported that cyber-bullying had occurred among students daily or at least once a week at school or away from school. Four percent each of public schools also reported that the school environment was affected by cyber-bullying and that staff resources were used to deal with cyber-bullying (table 7.3).

Public schools'; reports on the occurrence of cyber- bullying at school and away from school in 2009–10 varied by school characteristics (table 7.3). Primary schools reported lower percentages of cyber-bullying among students (2 percent) than middle schools (19 percent), high schools (18 percent), and combined schools (13 percent). Thirteen percent of schools with less than 5 percent combined enrollment of Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, or American Indian/ Alaska Native students reported cyber-bullying among students, compared with 5 percent of schools with 50 percent or more combined enrollment.

This indicator repeats information from the 2011 Indicators of School Crime and Safety report. For more information: Tables 7.1 and 7.2, and Neiman (2011), (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2011320).


21 "At school" was defined for respondents to include activities that happen in school buildings, on school grounds, on school buses, and at places that hold school-sponsored events or activities. Respondents were instructed to include incidents that occurred before, during, or after normal school hours or when school activities or events were in session.
22 The percentage of students eligible for free or reduced- price lunch programs is a proxy measure of school poverty.
23 "Cyber-bullying" was defined for respondents as "occurring when willful and repeated harm is inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, or other electronic devices."


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