Student reports of experiencing violence or feeling threatened by violence and the presence of gangs at school are one indicator of school safety. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asks students in grades 9-12 whether they have carried a weapon to school in the past 30 days, been threatened or injured with a weapon in the past year, or engaged in a physical fight on school property in the past year. The School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey (SCS/NCVS) asks students ages 12 to 18 in elementary and secondary schools about crime on their campuses, including the presence of gangs.
In 2005, among 9th- through 12th-graders, a higher percentage of Hispanic students (8 percent) reported carrying a weapon to school than did Black (5 percent) and Asian students (3 percent). In addition, higher percentages of Pacific Islander (15 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native (7 percent), and White students (6 percent) than Asian students reported carrying a weapon to school. A larger percentage of Hispanic students (10 percent) reported being threatened or injured with a weapon at school than did White (7 percent) and Asian students (5 percent). The percentages of Black (8 percent) and White students who reported being threatened or injured with a weapon at school were also higher than the percentage of Asian students.
The percentage of students who engaged in a physical fight on school property also differed across racial/ethnic groups. In 2005, some 14 percent of students reported they had engaged in a fight in the past 12 months. A smaller percentage of White (12 percent) and Asian students (6 percent) than Pacific Islander (24 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native (22 percent), Hispanic (18 percent), and Black students (17 percent) reported that they had engaged in a physical fight. The percentage of Asian students who had engaged in a fight was also smaller than the percentage of White students.
Youth gangs are linked to serious crime problems such as the presence of guns and drugs in elementary and secondary schools (Chandler et al. 1998). Students ages 12 to 18 were asked about the presence of gangs at school. In 2005, a greater percentage of Hispanic (38 percent) and Black students (37 percent) reported the presence of street gangs in schools than did "Other" (includes Asians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Alaska Natives) (23 percent) and White (17 percent) students. Among students of the same race/ethnicity, White and Hispanic students were more likely to report gang presence in urban schools than in suburban or rural schools. Black students in urban schools were also more likely to report the presence of gangs than were those in rural schools. Such differences by locale could not be detected for students in the "Other" race/ethnicity category.