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Indicator 17: Students' Perceptions of Personal Safety at School and Away From School
(Last Updated: July 2015)

The percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school decreased from 12 percent in 1995 to 3 percent in 2013, and the percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school decreased from 6 percent in 1999 to 3 percent in 2013.

In the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, students ages 12–18 were asked how often54 they had been afraid of attack or harm "at school or on the way to and from school" as well as "away from school."55 In 2013, about 3 percent of students ages 12–18 reported that they were afraid of attack or harm at school or on the way to and from school during the school year (figure 17.1 and table 17.1). Similarly, 3 percent of students ages 12–18 reported that they were afraid of attack or harm away from school during the school year.


Figure 17.1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the school year, by location and sex: Selected years, 1995 through 2013

Figure 17.1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm
       during the school year, by location and sex: Selected years, 1995 through 2013

1 Starting in 2007, the reference period was the school year, whereas in prior survey years the reference period was the previous 6 months. Cognitive testing showed that estimates from 2007 onward are comparable to previous years.
NOTE: "At school" includes the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and, from 2001 onward, going to and from school. Students were asked if they "never," "almost never," "sometimes," or "most of the time" feared that someone would attack or harm them at school or away from school. Students responding "sometimes" or "most of the time" were considered fearful. For the 2001 survey only, the wording was changed from "attack or harm" to "attack or threaten to attack." Data on fear of attack or harm away from school were not collected in 1995. For more information, please see appendix A.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 1995 through 2013.


Between 1995 and 2013, the percentages of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school decreased overall (from 12 to 3 percent), as well as among male students (from 11 to 3 percent) and female students (from 13 to 4 percent; figure 17.1). In addition, the percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school decreased between 1995 and 2013 for White students (from 8 to 3 percent), Black students (from 20 to 5 percent), and Hispanic students (from 21 to 5 percent). A declining trend was also observed for away from school: between 1999 (the first year of data collection for this item) and 2013, the percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm decreased from 6 to 3 percent overall, from 4 to 2 percent for male students, and from 7 to 3 percent for female students. The percentages of White students (from 4 to 2 percent), Black students (from 9 to 4 percent), and Hispanic students (from 9 to 4 percent) who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school also decreased during this period. Between the two most recent survey years, 2011 and 2013, no measurable differences were found in the overall percentages of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm, either at school or away from school.

In 2013, higher percentages of Black and Hispanic students (5 percent each) than of White students (3 percent) reported being afraid of attack or harm at school (table 17.1). Similarly, higher percentages of Black and Hispanic students (4 percent each) than of White students (2 percent) reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school.

Higher percentages of 6th-graders (5 percent) and 7th- and 10th-graders (4 percent each) reported being afraid of attack or harm at school than did 12th-graders (2 percent) in 2013. Likewise, higher percentages of 6th-, 9th-, and 10th-graders (3 to 4 percent each) reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school than did 12th-graders (1 percent).

In 2013, higher percentages of students in urban areas than of students in suburban areas reported being afraid of attack or harm both at school and away from school (figure 17.2). Specifically, 4 percent of students in urban areas reported being afraid of attack or harm at school, compared with 3 percent of students in suburban areas. Similarly, 4 percent of students in urban areas reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school, higher than the 2 percent of students in suburban areas. In addition, a higher percentage of students in urban areas than of students in rural areas reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school (4 vs. 2 percent). There were no measurable differences between the percentages of public school and private school students who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school or away from school in 2013.


Figure 17.2. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the school year, by location and urbanicity: 2013

Figure 17.2. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm
       during the school year, by location and urbanicity: 2013

NOTE: "At school" includes the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school. Students were asked if they "never," "almost never," "sometimes," or "most of the time" feared that someone would attack or harm them at school or away from school. Students responding "sometimes" or "most of the time" were considered fearful. Urbanicity refers to the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) status of the respondent's household as defined in 2000 by the U.S. Census Bureau. Categories include "central city of an MSA (Urban)," "in MSA but not in central city (Suburban)," and "not MSA (Rural)."
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2013.

This indicator repeats information from the Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2014 report. For more information: Table 17.1, and DeVoe and Bauer (2011), (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2012314).

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54 Students were asked if they "never," "almost never," "sometimes," or "most of the time" feared that someone would attack or harm them at school or away from school. Students responding "sometimes" or "most of the time" were considered fearful. For the 2001 survey only, the wording was changed from "attack or harm" to "attack or threaten to attack."
55 "At school" includes the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and, from 2001 onward, going to and from school.