Indicator 6: Violent and Other Criminal Incidents at Public Schools, and Those Reported to the Police
(Last Updated: May 2016)

During the 201314 school year, 65 percent of public schools recorded that one or more violent incidents had taken place, amounting to an estimated 757,000 crimes. This figure translates to a rate of approximately 15 crimes per 1,000 students enrolled in 201314.

In 201314, public school principals were asked to provide the number of incidents of violent crime28 and serious violent crime29 that occurred at their school30 on the Fast Response Survey System (FRSS) survey of school safety and discipline. This indicator presents the percentage of public schools that recorded one or more of these specified incidents, the total number of these incidents recorded, and the rate of incidents of crime per 1,000 students.31 In the School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS) administered in earlier years, public school principals were asked to provide the number of incidents of violent crime, incidents of serious violent crime, thefts of items valued at $10 or greater without personal confrontation, and other incidents32 that occurred at their school. In this survey, public school principals were also asked to provide the number of incidents they reported to the police. Data on these additional items are presented for the 200910 school year.

During the 201314 school year, 65 percent of public schools recorded that one or more violent incidents had taken place, amounting to an estimated 757,000 incidents (figure 6.1 and table 6.1). This figure translates to a rate of approximately 15 crimes per 1,000 students enrolled in 201314.

Violent incidents can be examined by the specific types of incidents that schools recorded. In 201314, about 58 percent of public schools reported one or more incidents of a physical attack or fight without a weapon. This percentage translates to approximately 453,000 incidents at a rate of about 9 crimes per 1,000 students. Some 47 percent of schools reported one or more incidents of threat of physical attack without a weapon (a rate of 6 crimes per 1,000 students).

Serious violent incidents are included within the total number of violent incidents, but can also be examined on their own. About 13 percent of public schools recorded one or more serious violent incidents in 201314 (a rate of 1 crime per 1,000 students). The types of serious violent incidents recorded included: threat of physical attack with a weapon (9 percent), robbery without a weapon (2 percent), physical attack or fight with a weapon (2 percent), sexual battery other than rape (2 percent), and rape or attempted rape (less than one half of 1 percent). Each type of serious violent incident translates to a rate of less than 1 crime per 1,000 students.


Figure 6.1. Percentage of public schools recording incidents of violent crime at school, by type of crime: School year 201314

Figure 6.1. Percentage of public schools recording incidents of violent crime at school, by type of crime: School year 201314

! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
‡ Reporting standards not met. Either there are too few cases for a reliable estimate or the coefficient of variation (CV) is 50 percent or greater.
NOTE: Responses were provided by the principal or the person most knowledgeable about crime and safety issues at the school. "At school" was defined 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, and after normal school hours or when school activities or events were in session. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding and because schools that recorded more than one type of crime incident were counted only once in the total percentage of schools recording or reporting incidents.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Fast Response Survey System (FRSS), "School Safety and Discipline: 201314," FRSS 106, 2014.


The percentage of public schools that recorded violent incidents and serious violent incidents varied by school characteristics. For example, primary schools recorded lower percentages of violent incidents (53 percent) than middle schools (88 percent) and high schools and combined elementary/secondary schools (referred to as high/combined schools) (78 percent; figure 6.2 and table 6.2). Similarly, a lower percentage of primary schools recorded serious violent incidents (9 percent) than middle or high/ combined schools (18 and 19 percent, respectively).

In 201314, about 86 percent of public schools with 1,000 or more students enrolled recorded violent incidents at school, higher than the percentages reported by schools with fewer students enrolled. The same pattern by enrollment size was observed for the percentage of schools recording serious violent incidents. A higher percentage of schools located in towns recorded violent incidents (76 percent) than those located in rural areas (62 percent) and suburban areas (60 percent), and a higher percentage of schools located in towns recorded serious violent incidents (17 percent) than those located in rural areas (10 percent). Additionally, a higher percentage of schools located in cities (18 percent) recorded serious violent incidents than those located in suburban areas (11 percent) and rural areas.

In 201314, a lower percentage of schools where 0 to 25 percent of students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch recorded violent incidents (51 percent) than those schools where a larger percentage of students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The percentage of schools that recorded serious violent incidents was also lower for schools where 0 to 25 percent of students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (10 percent) than for schools where 76 to 100 percent of students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (16 percent).

In the SSOCS, public school principals were asked to provide the number of thefts of items valued at $10 or greater without personal confrontation, and other incidents that occurred at their school in addition to reporting the number of violent incidents and serious violent incidents. During the 200910 school year, 85 percent of public schools recorded that one or more of these types of incidents had taken place (table 6.1). During the same year, 60 percent of schools reported one of the specified incidents to the police.

In 200910, a greater percentage of public schools recorded a criminal incident than reported a criminal incident to the police. This pattern held true for violent incidents, serious violent incidents, thefts, and other criminal incidents (tables 6.1 and 6.3). Seventy-four percent of schools recorded one or more violent incidents, 16 percent recorded one or more serious violent incidents, 44 percent recorded one or more thefts, and 68 percent recorded one or more other criminal incidents. In comparison, 40 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 criminal incidents to police.


Figure 6.2. Percentage of public schools recording incidents of violent crime at school, by selected school characteristics: School year 201314

Figure 6.2. Percentage of public schools recording incidents of violent crime at school, by selected school characteristics: School year 201314

1 Percent combined enrollment of Black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native students.
NOTE: Responses were provided by the principal or the person most knowledgeable about crime and safety issues at the school. "At school" was defined 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, and after normal school hours or when school activities or events were in session. High school/combined refers to high schools and combined elementary/secondary schools. Because the 201314 survey did not collect data on the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, the classification of schools by the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch was computed based on data obtained from the Common Core of Data.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Fast Response Survey System (FRSS), "School Safety and Discipline: 201314," FRSS 106, 2014; and Common Core of Data (CCD), "Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey," 201314.

This indicator has been updated to include 201314 data. For more information: Tables 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3, Neiman (2011), (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2011320), and Gray and Lewis (2015), (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2015051).

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28 "Violent incidents" include rape, sexual battery other than rape, physical attack or fight with or without a weapon, threat of physical attack with or without a weapon, and robbery with or without a weapon.
29 "Serious violent incidents" include rape, sexual battery other than rape, physical attack or fight with a weapon, threat of physical attack with a weapon, and robbery with or without a weapon.
30 "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.
31 Hereafter referred to as the rate of crime per 1,000 students.
32 "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.