Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 1998
Nonfatal Student Victimization-
The amount of crime committed in the nation's schools continues to be a concern. However, students are exposed and vulnerable to crime away from as well as at school. In fact, life away from school may be more dangerous for some students than life at school.
- Students ages 12 through 18 experienced fewer nonfatal serious violent crimes (that is, rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault) at school than away from school.1 In 1996, students in this age group were victims of about 255,000 incidents of such crimes at school and about 671,000 incidents away from school (tables 1.1b and 1.3b). The victimization rate for this type of crime remained relatively constant at school from 1992 to 1996, and declined very slightly away from school (figure 1.1 and tables 1.2a, b and 1.4a, b).
- Students ages 12 through 18 were victims of about 1.3 million incidents of nonfatal violent crime (that is, serious violent crime plus simple assault) at school, and about 1.4 million incidents away from school in 1996 (tables 1.1b and 1.3b). There was a decline in the victimization rate at school between 1993 and 1996 (from 67 to 49 incidents per 1,000 students ages 12 through 18) (figure 1.1 and tables 1.2a, b). During this period, the victimization rates for nonfatal violent crime were similar at school and away from school.
- Students ages 12 through 18 were more likely to be victims of theft at school than away from school each year between 1992 and 1996 (tables 1.1a, b and 1.3a, b). In 1996, they were victims of about 2.1 million thefts at school (62 percent of all crimes at school) and about 1.6 million thefts away from school (53 percent of all crimes away from school). The victimization rate declined slightly for thefts at school between 1992 and 1996, but remained about the same for thefts away from school during this period (figure 1.1 and tables 1.2a, b and 1.4a, b).
- Considering all nonfatal crime (theft plus violent crime), 12- through 18-year-old students were victims of about 3.3 million crimes while they were at school in 1996, and a similar number of crimes (about 3.1 million) away from school (tables 1.1b and 1.3b). These represent victimization rates of 128 crimes per 1,000 students at school and 117 crimes per 1,000 students away from school (tables 1.2b and 1.4b).
- In 1996, the rates for serious violent crime were higher for males than females at school and away from school (figures 1.2 and 1.3 and tables 1.2b and 1.4b). The rates for theft were similar for males and females at school but higher for males away from school compared to females.
- In 1996, 12- through 18-year-old students living in urban areas were more vulnerable to serious violent crime than were students in suburban and rural areas both at school and away from school (figures 1.2 and 1.3 and tables 1.2b and 1.4b). However, student vulnerability to theft in 1996 was similar in urban, suburban, and rural areas both at school and away from school.
Some of the crimes committed against students involve violence, while others involve their property. Presenting information on different types of victimization for public and private school students separately helps clarify how many students are affected and where the most serious problems are.
- In 1995, about 15 percent of students ages 12 through 19 reported being victims of a crime at school during the previous 6 months (figure 2.1 and table 2.1). Students in both public and private schools were much more likely to report theft of property (from their desks, lockers, or other location) than they were to report being the victim of a violent crime (being physically attacked or having property taken by force).
- Public school students were more likely to report having been victims of a violent crime during the previous 6 months (4 percent) than were private school students (2 percent) in 1995 (figure 2.1 and table 2.1). Public and private school students were about equally likely to report having had property stolen at school (theft) in that year (12 and 11 percent, respectively).
- Victimization was related to grade level. In 1995, students in higher grades were less likely to report being the victims of violent and property crimes than were students in lower grades (table 2.1). When considering both types of crime, there was a notable difference between students in grades 6 through 9 on the one hand and students in grades 11 and 12 on the other.
Every year, some students are in-jured or threatened with injury while they are at school. The percent-ages of students victimized in this way provide an important measure of how safe our schools are and how this is changing over time.
- The percentages of 12th graders who have been injured at school-that is, inside or outside the school building or on a school bus-(with or without a weapon) have not changed notably over the past 20 years, although the percentages who have been threatened with injury (with a weapon or without a weapon) show a very slight overall upward trend (figures 3.2 and 3.3 and tables 3.1 and 3.2).
- In 1996, 5 percent of all 12th graders reported that they had been injured with a weapon such as a knife, gun, or club during the past 12 months while they were at school, and 12 percent reported that they had been injured on purpose without a weapon while at school (table 3.1).
- In 1996, 13 percent of all 12th graders reported that someone had threatened them with a weapon at school, and 22 percent reported that they had been threatened with injury without a weapon at school (table 3.2).
- Male and female 12th graders were about equally likely to report having been injured on purpose without a weapon in 1996 at school (13 and 11 percent, respectively) (figure 3.1 and table 3.1). However, males were more likely than females to have been injured with a weapon or threatened with injury with or without a weapon while at school (figure 3.1 and tables 3.1 and 3.2).
Bullying contributes to a climate of fear and intimidation in schools. As part of a youth interview on school safety and discipline conducted in 1993, students in grades 6 through 12 were asked if they had been victims of bullying at school.
- Eight percent of all students in grades 6 through 12 reported that they had been victims of bullying at school during the 1992-93 school year (either in school, at school activities during the day, or on the way to or from school) (figure 4.1 and table 4.1).
- The incidence of bullying declined as grade level increased (figure 4.1 and table 4.1). Students in 6th grade were about four times as likely as students in 12th grade to report being bullied at school in the 1992-93 school year.
- The incidence of bullying at school was about the same (between 8 and 10 percent) in the 1992-93 school year regardless of the urbanicity of the place where the student lived (table 4.1).
- Urban males were more likely than urban females to report being victims of bullying at school (9 percent versus 6 percent) in the 1992-93 school year (table 4.1). However, this was not true of males and females in suburban areas or in rural areas.2
One way that students are victimized at school is by having their personal property stolen or deliberately damaged. While less harmful than attacks on students themselves, such crimes have financial consequences and can divert students' attention from their studies as well as contribute to perceptions of school as unsafe places.
- It is relatively common for 12th graders to have something of theirs stolen while on school property or on a school bus (theft) (figure 5.1 and table 5.1). In 1996, 42 percent of males and 40 percent of females reported that this had happened to them at least once during the past 12 months. The percentage of 12th graders having items stolen has increased slightly since 1976.
- In most years between 1976 and 1996, 12th-grade males were more likely than 12th-grade females to have had something stolen at school or on a school bus (figure 5.1 and table 5.1).
- In 1996, 26 percent of all 12th graders reported that, at least once during the last 12 months, someone had deliberately damaged their property (their car or their clothing, for example) while they were at school or on a school bus (table 5.2). The proportion of students victimized in this way has remained relatively constant between 1976 and 1996.
- Twelfth-grade males had their property deliberately damaged at a consistently higher rate than 12th-grade females between 1976 and 1996 (table 5.2). In 1996, 32 percent of males had their property deliberately damaged at school or on a school bus, compared with 20 percent of females.
 For this indicator, "at school" includes on school property or on the way to or from school.
 See appendix C for definition of suburban used in NHES.