Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 1998
Violence And Crime At School-
Public School Principal/Disciplinarian Reports
The number of crimes that principals indicated that they reported to police or other law enforcement representatives is a useful measure of the occurrences of serious crimes in the nation's schools. The percentage of schools reporting crimes provides an indication of how widespread crime is, while the number of crimes reported provides information on the magnitude of the problem.
- In 1996-97, 10 percent of all public schools reported at least one serious violent crime to a law enforcement representative (figure 6.1 and table 6.1). Another 47 percent of public schools reported a less serious violent or nonviolent crime (but not a serious violent one). The remaining 43 percent of public schools did not report any of these crimes to the police.
- The vast majority of crimes reported by public schools were of the less serious violent or nonviolent type in 1996-97 (402,000 out of the 424,000 total crimes reported to the police) (table 6.3).
- The percentage of schools reporting crimes was similar at the middle and high school levels (figure 6.2 and table 6.1). At each level, about 20 percent of the schools reported at least one serious violent crime, and about 55 percent reported at least one less serious violent or nonviolent crime, but no serious violent crime in 1996-97.
- The numbers of reported incidents per 1,000 students were similar for middle and high schools for both serious violent and less serious violent and nonviolent crimes (figure 6.2 and table 6.4). For both types of crimes, there was a lower rate at the elementary level than at the middle or high school levels.
- The percentage of schools reporting at least one serious violent crime was much higher in cities (17 percent) than in towns (5 percent) or rural areas (8 percent) during 1996-97 (figure 6.2 and table 6.1).
Data on the prevalence of specific types of crimes add detail to the more general discussion of serious violent crimes and less serious violent and nonviolent crimes. Each type of crime affects students and schools differently.
- About one-half (44 to 55 percent) of all public middle and high schools reported incidents of vandalism, theft or larceny, and physical attacks or fights without weapons to the police or other law enforcement representatives in the 1996-97 school year (figure 7.1 and table 7.2). Considerably smaller percentages of public middle and high schools reported the more serious violent crimes of rape or other type of sexual battery (5 and 8 percent, respectively); robbery (5 and 8 percent); or physical attack or fight with a weapon (12 and 13 percent) (table 7.1).
- Elementary schools were much less likely than either middle or high schools to report any of the types of crime described here in 1996-97 (figure 7.1 and tables 7.1 and 7.2). They were much more likely to report vandalism (31 percent) than any of the other crimes (19 percent or less).
- In 1996-97, physical attack or fight without a weapon was generally the most commonly reported crime at the middle and high school levels (9 and 8 per 1,000 public school students, respectively) (figure 7.2 and table 7.8). Theft or larceny was more common at the high school than the middle school level (6 versus 4 per 1,000 students).
- Overall, there was relatively little variation by urbanicity in the crime rates at school discussed here during the 1996-97 school year (as measured by the number of crimes reported per 1,000 public school students) (figure 7.2 and tables 7.7 and 7.8).