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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2013
NCES 2014-042
June 2014

Key Findings

Preliminary data show that there were 31 school-associated violent deaths1 from July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011 (Indicator 1). In 2012, among students ages 12–18, there were about 1,364,900 nonfatal victimizations at school,2 which include 615,600 victims of theft3 and 749,200 victims of violence4 (simple assault and serious violence5) (Indicator 2). During the 2011–12 school year, 88 percent of public schools reported that they controlled access to school buildings by locking or monitoring doors during school hours, and 64 percent reported that they used security cameras to monitor the school. In the 2009–10 school year, 43 percent of public schools reported the presence of one or more security staff at their school at least once a week during the school year (Indicator 20).

The following key findings are drawn from each section of the report.

Violent Deaths

  • Of the 31 student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths occurring between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011, there were 25 homicides and 6 suicides. During the same time period, there were 11 homicides and 3 suicides of school-age youth (ages 5–18) at school (Indicator 1).
  • During the 2010–11 school year, 11 of the 1,336 homicides among school-age youth ages 5–18 occurred at school.6 During the 2010 calendar year, 3 of the 1,456 suicides of youth ages 5–18 occurred at school (Indicator 1).

Nonfatal Student and Teacher Victimization

  • Between 1992 and 2012, the total victimization rates for students ages 12–18 generally declined both at school (from 181 to 52 per 1,000) and away from school (from 173 to 38 per 1,000). This pattern also held for thefts, violent victimizations, and serious violent victimizations (Indicator 2).
  • In 2012, students ages 12–18 were victims of about 1,364,900 nonfatal victimizations at school,7 including 615,600 thefts8 and 749,200 violent victimizations,9 89,000 of which were serious violent victimizations10 (Indicator 2).
  • In 2012, a greater number of students ages 12–18 experienced victimizations (theft and violent crime) at school than away from school. That year, 52 victimizations per 1,000 students occurred at school, and 38 victimizations per 1,000 students occurred away from school (Indicator 2).
  • The rates of total victimization at and away from school were greater for males than for females ages 12–18 in 2012 (Indicator 2).
  • In 2012, students ages 12–18 residing in urban or suburban areas had higher rates of violent victimization at school than those residing in rural areas (Indicator 2).
  • Between 1995 and 2011, the total percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being victimized at school, as well as the percentages of students who reported theft, violent victimization, and serious violent victimization, decreased (Indicator 3).
  • Four percent of students ages 12–18 reported being victimized at school during the previous 6 months in 2011. Three percent of students reported theft, 1 percent reported v iolent victimization, and one-tenth of 1 percent reported serious violent victimization (Indicator 3).
  • In 2011, a higher percentage of students ages 12–18 attending public schools reported being victimized than students attending private schools (4 vs. 2 percent; Indicator 3).
  • Seven percent of students in grades 9–12 reported being threatened or injured with a weapon, such as a gun, knife, or club, on school property11 in 2011. Specifically, 3 percent of students were threatened or injured with a weapon 1 time, 2 percent were threatened or injured with a weapon 2 or 3 times, 1 percent were threatened or injured with a weapon 4 to 11 times, and 1 percent were threatened or injured with a weapon 12 or more times (Indicator 4).
  • In each survey year, a higher percentageof males than females in grades 9–12 reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property. For example, in 2011, approximately 10 percent of males and 5 percent of females were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property. These percentages were not measurably different from the percentages of males and females who were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property in 2009 (Indicator 4).
  • During the 2011–12 school year, a higher percentage of public than private school teachers reported being threatened with injury (10 vs. 3 percent) or being physically attacked (6 vs. 3 percent) by a student from their school (Indicator 5).
  • Ten percent of elementary teachers and 9 percent of secondary teachers reported being threatened by a student from their school in 2011–12. The percentage of elementary teachers who reported being physically attacked by a student was higher than the percentage of secondary teachers (8 vs. 3 percent; Indicator 5).

School Environment

  • During the 2009–10 school year, 85 percent of public schools recorded that one or more crime incidents had taken place at school,12 amounting to an estimated 1.9 million crimes. This translates to a rate of 40 crimes per 1,000 public school students enrolled in 2009–10. During the same year, 60 percent of public schools reported a crime incident that occurred at school to the police, amounting to 689,000 crimes—or 15 crimes per 1,000 public school students enrolled (Indicator 6).
  • In 2009–10, about 74 percent of public schools recorded one or more violent incidents of crime, 16 percent recorded one or more serious violent incidents, 44 percent recorded one or more thefts, and 68 percent recorded one or more other incidents.13 Forty percent of public schools reported at least one violent incident to police, 10 percent reported at least one serious violent incident to police, 25 percent reported at least one theft to police, and 46 percent reported one or more other incidents to police (Indicator 6).
  • During the 2009–10 school year, 23 percent of public schools reported that bullying occurred among students on a daily or weekly basis, and 3 percent reported widespread disorder in classrooms on a daily or weekly basis (Indicator 7).
  • Sixteen percent of public schools reported that gang activities had occurred during the 2009–10 school year, and 2 percent reported that cult or extremist activities had occurred during this period. 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 (Indicator 7).
  • Nine percent of public schools reported that student acts of disrespect for teachers other than verbal abuse occurred at least once a week in 2009–10, lower than the 11 percent in 2007–08 (Indicator 7).
  • The percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported that gangs were present at their school decreased from 20 percent in 2009 to 18 percent in 2011. A higher percentage of students from urban areas (23 percent) reported a gang presence than students from suburban (16 percent) and rural areas (12 percent) in 2011. The percentage of students from urban areas who reported a gang presence decreased from 31 percent in 2009 to 23 percent in 2011 (Indicator 8).
  • In 2011, approximately 19 percent of students ages 12–18 attending public schools reported that gangs were present at their school, compared with 2 percent of students attending private schools. The percentage of private school students who reported a gang presence at their school was not measurably different between the two most recent survey years, 2009 and 2011 (2 percent in each year). In contrast, the percentage of public school students who reported a gang presence decreased from 22 percent in 2009 to 19 percent in 2011 (Indicator 8).
  • The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported that illegal drugs were offered, sold, or given to them decreased from 32 percent in 1995 to 26 percent in 2011. The percentage of students who reported that drugs were made available to them on school property in 2011 (26 percent) was higher than in 2009 (23 percent; Indicator 9).
  • In 2011, a higher percentage of 10th-graders reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property than 9th-graders or 12th-graders. In addition, higher percentages of American Indian/Alaska Native students (40 percent), Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian students (39 percent), and Hispanic students and students of two or more races (33 percent each), than White, Black, or Asian students (23 percent each) reported that drugs were offered, sold, or given to them on school property (Indicator 9).
  • The percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being the target of hate-related words decreased from 12 percent in 2001 to 9 percent in 2011, and the percentage of students who reported seeing hate-related graffiti at school during the school year decreased from 36 percent in 1999 to 28 percent in 2011 (Indicator 10).
  • In 2011, there were no measurable differences in the percentages of students ages 12–18 who reported being called hate-related words or who reported seeing hate-related graffiti at school by race/ethnicity. Eight percent of White students, 9 percent of Asian students, 10 percent of Hispanic students, and 11 percent of Black students reported being called a hate-related word. Twenty-eight percent each of Black and White students, 29 percent of Hispanic students, and 30 percent of Asian students reported seeing hate-related graffiti at school in 2011 (Indicator 10).
  • In 2011, about 28 percent of 12- to 18-year-old students reported being bullied at school during the school year. A higher percentage of females than of males ages 12–18 reported that they were made fun of, called names, or insulted (19 vs. 16 percent), were the subject of rumors (24 vs. 13 percent), and were excluded from activities on purpose (6 vs. 5 percent). The percentage of males (9 percent) who reported being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on was higher than the percentage of females who reported the same bullying problem (7 percent; Indicator 11).
  • In 2011, a higher percentage of students in 6th grade than of students in grades 7 through 12 reported being bullied at school during the school year. About 37 percent of 6th-graders reported being bullied at school, compared with 30 percent of 7th-graders, 31 percent of 8th-graders, 26 percent of 9th-graders, 28 percent of 10th-graders, 24 percent of 11th-graders, and 22 percent of 12th-graders (Indicator 11).
  • In 2011, approximately 9 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being cyber-bullied anywhere during the school year. Of those students, about 4 percent each reported that another student had posted hurtful information on the Internet and reported being the subject of harassing text messages. Female students reported being the victims of these types of cyber-bullying problems at higher percentages than males in 2011. For example, 6 percent of females versus 2 percent of males reported that another student posted hurtful information about them on the Internet, and the same percentages of females and males, respectively, reported being the subject of harassing text messages (Indicator 11).
  • Overall and for most student and school characteristics, no pattern was observed between 2005 and 2011 in the percentages of students ages 12–18 reporting bullying at school; however, a higher percentage of students reported being bullied in 2007 (32 percent) than in 2005, 2009, and 2011 (28 percent in each year; Indicator 11).
  • The percentage of teachers who reported that student misbehavior interfered with their teaching fluctuated between 1993 –94 and 2011–12; however, the percentage of teachers reporting that student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching increased over this time period (from 25 to 35 percent). Between 1993–94 and 2011–12, the percentage of teachers who reported that school rules were enforced by other teachers fluctuated between 64 and 73 percent, and the percentage who reported that rules were enforced by the principal fluctuated between 82 and 89 percent (Indicator 12).
  • In 2011–12, about 38 percent of teachers agreed or strongly agreed that student misbehavior interfered with their teaching, and 35 percent reported that student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching. Sixty-nine percent of teachers agreed or strongly agreed that other teachers at their school enforced the school rules, and 84 percent reported that the principal enforced the school rules (Indicator 12).
  • A higher percentage of public school teachers (41 percent) than of private school teachers (22 percent) reported that student misbehavior interfered with their teaching in 2011–12. In addition, 38 percent of public school teachers reported that student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching, compared with 19 percent of private school teachers. During the same year, lower percentages of public school teachers than of private school teachers agreed that school rules were enforced by teachers (68 vs. 77 percent) and by the principal in their school (84 vs. 89 percent; Indicator 12).

Fights, Weapons, and Illegal Substances

  • In 2011, about 33 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported they had been in a physical fight at least one time during the previous 12 months anywhere, and 12 percent said they had been in a fight on school property during the previous 12 months. Generally, a higher percentage of students in 9th grade reported having been in fights than students in any other grade, both anywhere and on school property. A smaller percentage of Asian students reported being in fights anywhere and on school property than students of other racial/ ethnic groups. In addition, 4 percent of males said compared to 1 percent of females, and 1 percent of males said they had been in a fight on school property twelve or more times, compared to less than half a percent of females (Indicator 13).
  • Between 1993 and 2011, the percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported carrying a weapon anywhere on at least 1 day during the past 30 days declined from 22 percent to 17 percent, and the percentage who reported carrying a weapon on school property on at least 1 day also declined, from 12 percent to 5 percent (Indicator 14).
  • In 2011, among students in grades 9–12, 26 percent of males reported carrying a weapon anywhere, compared to 7 percent of females, and 8 percent of males reported carrying a weapon on school property, compared to 2 percent of females (Indicator 14).
  • The percentage of students in grades 9–12 reporting that they had access to a gun without adult permission was lower in 2009 and 2011 (6 percent and 5 percent, respectively) than it was in 2007 (7 percent). In all three survey years, a higher percentage of male students than female students reported having access to a gun without adult permission. For example, in 2011, about 6 percent of males reported having access to a gun without adult permission, compared to 4 percent of females (Indicator 14).
  • From 2009 to 2011, there were no measurable changes in the percentages of male students who reported alcohol consumption anywhere or on school property. Among females, however, the percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported consuming alcohol anywhere decreased from 43 percent in 2009 to 38 percent in 2011, and the percentage of female students who reported consuming alcohol on school property increased from 4 percent in 2009 to 5 percent in 2011 (Indicator 15).
  • In 2011, about 39 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported having at least one drink of alcohol anywhere during the previous 30 days, and 5 percent had at least one drink on school property (Indicator 15).
  • In 2011, some 23 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported using marijuana anywhere at least one time in the previous 30 days and 6 percent reported using marijuana on school property at least one time over the same time period. The 2011 percentages of students who reported using marijuana anywhere and on school property were higher than in 2009. In addition, in ever survey year, higher percentages of males than females reported using marijuana anywhere and on school property (Indicator 16).
  • The percentage of Asian students in grades 9–12 who reported using marijuana anywhere at least one time during the previous 30 days was lower than that of other racial/ethnic groups in 2011. Fourteen percent of Asian students reported using marijuana anywhere, compared with 22 percent of White students; 24 percent of Hispanic students; 25 percent of Black students; 27 percent of students of two or more races; 31 percent of Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian students; and 47 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native students (Indicator 16).

Fear and Avoidance

  • Between 1995 and 2011, the percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school decreased from 12 to 4 percent (Indicator 17).
  • In 2011, a higher percentage of students ages 12–18 reported that they were afraid of attack or harm at school (4 percent) than away from school (2 percent) during the school year (Indicator 17).
  • Student reports on their fears about their safety varied by race/ethnicity in 2011. A lower percentage of White students ages 12–18 (3 percent) than of Hispanic students (5 percent) reported being afraid of attack or harm at school, and a lower percentage of White students (2 percent) than of Black and Hispanic students (3 percent each) reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school (Indicator 17).
  • The percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported that they had avoided at least one school activity or one or more places in school during the previous school year because of fear of attack or harm was not measurably different between 2009 (5 percent) and 2011 (6 percent). In 2011, about 2 percent of students avoided at least one school activity, and 5 percent avoided one or places in school.14 A higher percentage of female than male students reported avoiding one or more places in school because of fear of attack or harm (5 vs. 4 percent, respectively; Indicator 18).

Discipline, Safety, and Security Measures

  • During the 2009–10 school year, 39 percent of public schools (about 32,300 schools) took at least one serious disciplinary action against a student for specific offenses. Of the 433,800 serious disciplinary actions taken during the 2009–10 school year, 74 percent were suspensions for 5 days or more, 20 percent were transfers to specialized schools, and 6 percent were removals with no services for the remainder of the school year (Indicator 19).
  • Between the 2003–04 and 2011–12 school years, the percentage of public schools reporting that they required that students wear uniforms increased from 13 to 19 percent. Also, the percentages of public schools reporting the following security measures were higher in 2011–12 than in 2003–04: using security cameras to monitor the school; controlling access to buildings during school hours; and controlling access to grounds during school hours (Indicator 20).
  • During the 2011–12 school year, 88 percent of public schools reported that they controlled access to school buildings by locking or monitoring doors during school hours, and 64 percent reported that they used security cameras to monitor the school (Indicator 20).
  • During the 2009–10 school year, 43 percent of public schools reported the presence of one or more security staff at their school at least once a week during the school year. Twenty-nine percent of schools reported having at least one full-time employed security staff member who was present at least once a week, and 14 percent of schools reported having only part-time staff. Twenty-eight percent of all schools reported the presence of security staff routinely carrying a firearm at school (Indicator 20).
  • In 2011 nearly all students ages 12–18 reported that they had observed security measures at their schools.15 Most students ages 12–18 reported that their schools had a code of student conduct (96 percent) and a requirement that visitors sign in (95 percent). Approximately 89 percent of students reported the presence of other school staff or other adult supervision in the hallway, 77 percent reported the presence of one or more security cameras to monitor the school, and 70 percent reported the presence of security guards and/or assigned police officers. Metal detectors were the least observed of the selected safety and security measures: 11 percent of students reported the use of metal detectors at their schools (Indicator 21).
  • Seventy-seven percent of students ages 12–18 reported observing the use of one or more security cameras at their schools in 2011, which represented an increase from 70 percent in 2009 as well as an overall increase from 39 percent in 2001 (Indicator 21).

Postsecondary Campus Safety and Security

  • In 2011, there were 30,400 criminal incidents at public and private 2-year and 4-year postsecondary institutions that were reported to police and security agencies, representing a 5 percent decrease from 2010 (31,900). There was also a decrease in the number of crimes per 10,000 full-time-equivalent students, from 20.8 in 2010 to 19.7 in 2011 (Indicator 22).
  • The number of disciplinary referrals for drug law violations reported by public and private 2-year and 4-year postsecondary institutions increased from 20.5 per 10,000 students in 2001 to 33.8 per 10,000 students in 2011. Also, the number of referrals for liquor law violations per 10,000 students was higher in 2011 (128.1) than in 2001 (111.3). In contrast, the number of referrals per 10,000 students for illegal weapons possession was lower in 2011 (0.9) than in 2001 (1.1; Indicator 22).
  • The number of arrests for drug law violations reported by public and private 2-year and 4-year postsecondary institutions increased from 10.2 per 10,000 students in 2001 to 13.5 per 10,000 students in 2011. However, the number of arrests per 10,000 students was lower in 2011 than in2001 for liquor law violations (21.3 vs. 23.5) as well as for illegal weapons possession (0.7 vs. 0.9; Indicator 22).

1 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, while the victim was on the way to or from regular sessions at school or while the victim was attending or traveling to or from an official school-sponsored event." Victims of school-associated violent deaths included students, staff members, and others who are not students.
2 "At school" includes inside the school building, on school property, or on the way to or from school.
3 "Theft" includes attempted and completed purse-snatching, completed pickpocketing, and all attempted and completed thefts, with the exception of motor vehicle thefts. Theft does not include robbery, which involves the threat or use of force and is classified as a violent crime.
4 "Violent victimization" includes serious violent crimes and simple assault.
5 "Serious violent victimization" includes the crimes of rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault.
6 This finding is drawn from the School-Associated Violent Deaths Study (SAVD), which defines "at school" for survey respondents as on school property, on the way to or from regular sessions at school, and while attending or traveling to or from a school-sponsored event.
7 This finding is drawn from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which defines "at school" for survey respondents as inside the school building, on school property, or on the way to or from school.
8 "Theft" includes attempted and completed purse-snatching, completed pickpocketing, and all attempted and completed thefts, with the exception of motor vehicle thefts. Theft does not include robbery, which involves the threat or use of force and is classified as a violent crime.
9 "Violent victimization" includes serious violent crimes and simple assault.
10 "Serious violent victimization" includes the crimes of rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault.
11 "On school property" was not defined for survey respondents.
12 "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.
13 "Other incidents" include possession of a firearm or explosive device; possession of a knife or sharp object; distribution, possession, or use of illegal drugs or alcohol; vandalism; and inappropriate distribution, possession, or use of prescription drugs.
14 "Avoided school activities" includes avoiding any (extracurricular) activities, skipping class, or staying home from school. In 2007, 2009, and 2011, the survey wording was changed from "any extracurricular activities" to "any activities." Please use caution when comparing changes in this item over time. "Avoiding one or more places in school" includes avoiding the entrance, any hallways or stairs, parts of the cafeteria, restrooms, and other places inside the school building.
15 Readers should note that this indicator relies on student reports of security measures and provides estimates based on students' awareness of the measure rather than on documented practice. See Indicator 20 for a summary of the use of various security measures as reported by schools.


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