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Campus Crime and Security at Postsecondary Education Institutions
NCES 97402
February 1997

Campus Crime Statistics

The following section provides information for calendar years 1992, 1993, and 1994 about the number of reported occurrences and arrests on campus for the crimes specified in the Campus Security Act. Information was obtained for these years because the final regulations implementing the Act stipulate that data for these 3 calendar years be published by institutions in their annual security report due September 1, 1995, and thus they were the most recent data available when the survey was conducted. The report presents information for 3 years to show the overall pattern of crimes and arrests at postsecondary institutions. The crime statistics reported are for crimes occurring on campus, and do not include crimes committed against students at off-campus locations. In addition, this section of the report provides information about the crime definitions used by institutions for compiling their crime statistics.

On-Campus Occurrences of Crimes

According to the Campus Security Act, postsecondary institutions are required to report "statistics concerning the occurrence on campus of the following criminal offenses reported to local police agencies or to any official of the institution who has significant responsibility for student and campus activities."5 The crimes (defined in appendix A) are as follows:

  • Violent crimes:6 murder, forcible sex offenses (including forcible rape), robbery, aggravated assault
  • Nonforcible sex offenses
  • Property crimes:7 burglary, motor-vehicle theft

About a quarter of the institutions reported occurrences of one or more violent crimes (murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery, or aggravated assault) in each of the 3 years (1992, 1993, 1994), although the percentage of institutions reporting violent crimes varied substantially by institutional characteristics (tables 3 and 4).

Nationally, very few institutions reported any occurrences of murder, ranging from less than 0.5 percent to 1 percent of institutions.

Forcible sex offenses were reported by 9 percent of institutions, robbery by 11 to 12 percent, and aggravated assault by 17 to 19 percent of institutions, depending on the year, although again the percentage of institutions reporting these crimes varied substantially by institutional characteristics.

Overall, nonforcible sex offenses were reported by 5 or 6 percent of institutions in each of the 3 years, with variation by institutional characteristics (tables 3 and 4). It should be noted that while the FBI defines nonforcible sex offenses as statutory rape and incest, some institutions also include crimes such as public lewdness and indecent exposure or follow definitions used in state statutes.8 Thus, the proportion of institutions reporting nonforcible sex offenses and the number of such crimes reported is probably larger than it would be if the institutions included only statutory rape and incest.

Property crimes (which here includes only burglary and motor vehicle theft, since these are the only property crimes the Act requires institutions to report) were reported by 37 to 44 percent of the institutions over the 3 years, with the percentage of institutions reporting occurrences varying substantially by institutional characteristics (tables 3 and 4). Overall, occurrences of burglary were reported by 33 to 37 percent of institutions, while motor vehicle theft was reported by 21 to 23 percent of institutions across the 3 years.

The percentage of institutions reporting occurrences of the crimes varied greatly by institutional type, whether the institution had campus housing, and the size of the institution (Table 4). Public 4-year institutions were more likely than other types of institutions to report occurrences of each type of crime. Private 4-year and public 2-year institutions more frequently reported occurrences of some types of crimes (for example, total violent and property crimes, aggravated assault, and burglary) than did private 2-year and all less-than-2-year institutions. Institutions that have campus housing (both those with less than 25 percent and those with 25 percent or more of their students in campus housing) were more likely to report occurrences of the crimes than were institutions that do not have any campus housing, and larger institutions were more likely than smaller ones to report occurrences of the crimes. For example, in 1994, one or more violent crimes were reported by 78 percent of public 4-year institutions, about half of institutions with campus housing, and 84 percent of institutions with 10,000 or more students, compared with 3 percent of for-profit less-than-2-year institutions, 12 percent of institutions without campus housing, and 7 percent of institutions with less than 200 students. Similarly, property crimes were reported by 84 percent of public 4-year institutions, two-thirds to three-quarters of institutions with campus housing, and 96 percent of institutions with 10,000 or more students, compared with 14 percent of for-profit less-than-2-year institutions, 30 percent of institutions without campus housing, and 18 percent of institutions with less than 200 students.

An estimated 9,850 violent crimes (murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery, and aggravated assault) were reported by postsecondary institutions in 1992, 10,330 in 1993, and 9,550 in 1994 (Table 5). The number of specific violent crimes ranged from 20 to 30 occurrences of murder, depending on the year, to over 5,000 occurrences of aggravated assault each year. The number of nonforcible sex offenses ranged from 1,100 in 1992 to 1,370 in 1993. Property crimes (burglary and motor vehicle theft) were much more common than other types of crimes, with an estimated 39,300 in 1992, 38,510 in 1993, and 37,780 in 1994. Most of the property crimes were burglaries rather than motor vehicle thefts.

To allow comparisons across kinds of institutions, the number of crimes was standardized by the total number of students to obtain the number of reported occurrences of crimes per 1,000 students.9 The number of crimes per 1,000 students was calculated by dividing the sum of the reported occurrences of the crime by the sum of the total number of students and then multiplying by 1,000.

There were an estimated 0.68 violent crimes per 1,000 students in 1992, 0.71 per 1,000 students in 1993, and 0.65 per 1,000 students in 1994 (Table 6). For 1994, the individual rates for violent crimes were 0.001 per 1,000 for murder, 0.09 per 1,000 for forcible sex offenses, 0.21 per 1,000 for robbery, and 0.35 per 1,000 for aggravated assault. The pattern of the number of violent crimes per 1,000 students varied somewhat by institutional type from year to year, with a general pattern of public 2-year institutions tending to be lower than public or private 4-year institutions. Institutions with no campus housing had a lower number of violent crimes per 1,000 students than did institutions with less than 25 percent of their students in campus housing, which in turn tended to have a lower number of violent crimes per 1,000 students than did institutions with 25 percent or more of their students in campus housing. Larger institutions had a lower number of violent crimes per 1,000 students than did smaller institutions. For example, the overall violent crime rate for 1994 was 0.29 per 1,000 students at institutions without campus housing compared with 1.13 per 1,000 at institutions with 25 percent or more of students in campus housing. By institutional size, the violent crime rate was 2.37 per 1,000 at institutions with less than 200 students compared with 0.53 per 1,000 at institutions with 10,000 or more students.

There were an estimated 0.09 nonforcible sex offenses per 1,000 students in 1992, 0.11 per 1,000 students in 1993, and 0.10 per 1,000 students in 1994 (Table 6). Few patterns by institutional characteristics are readily apparent. Property crimes were much more frequent, with an estimated 2.71 property crimes per 1,000 students in 1992, 2.63 per 1,000 in 1993, and 2.57 per 1,000 students in 1994. For 1994, reported rates were 1.96 per 1,000 for burglaries and 0.61 per 1,000 for motor vehicle thefts. In general, the other less-than-2- year and the public 2-year institutions had fewer property crimes per 1,000 students than did private 2-year and all 4- year institutions. As with violent crimes, institutions with no campus housing had a lower number of property crimes per 1,000 students than did institutions with less than 25 percent of their students in campus housing, which in turn had a lower number than did institutions with 25 percent or more of their students in campus housing. Larger institutions had a lower number of property crimes per 1,000 students than did smaller institutions.

Occurrences of Crimes Manifesting Evidence of Prejudice ("Hate Crimes")

According to the Campus Security Act, postsecondary institutions are required to report statistics concerning the occurrence of certain criminal offenses that "manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, as prescribed by the Hate Crimes Statistics Act (28 U.S.C. 534)."10 The crimes specified in the regulations are murder, forcible rape, and aggravated assault. The category of all forcible sex offenses, including forcible rape, was included on the questionnaire so that there would be equivalent reporting categories for both crimes manifesting evidence of prejudice and other crimes.

Very few institutions reported occurrences of crimes manifesting evidence of prejudice, ranging from 0 percent reporting occurrences of murder to 1 percent reporting occurrences of aggravated assault (Table 7). The number of these crimes reported was also very small, ranging from 0 murders in all 3 years to 100 aggravated assaults in 1993 (Table 8).

Arrests for Crimes Occurring on Campus

Postsecondary institutions are required to report statistics concerning the number of arrests for the following crimes occurring on campus: liquor law violations, drug abuse violations, and weapons possessions. On-campus arrests per year for the various crimes were reported by 9 to 14 percent of institutions over the 3 years (Table 9). It should be noted that the FBI definition for liquor law violations excludes drunkenness and driving under the influence.

Public 4-year institutions were much more likely than other types of institutions to report on-campus arrests for all three types of crimes (Table 10). Institutions that have campus housing (both those with less than 25 percent and those with 25 percent or more of their students in campus housing) were more likely to report arrests for all three crimes than institutions that do not have campus housing, and larger institutions were more likely than smaller ones to report arrests for these crimes. For example, arrests for liquor law violations in 1994 were reported by 63 percent of public 4-year institutions, a third of institutions with campus housing, and 56 percent of institutions with 10,000 or more students, compared with less than 0.5 percent of forprofit less-than-2-year institutions, 3 percent of institutions without campus housing, and 1 percent of institutions with less than 200 students.

On-campus arrests for liquor law violations were much more common than for drug abuse violations or weapons possessions, ranging from an estimated 18,310 in 1992 to 20,430 in 1994 (Table 11). Oncampus arrests for drug abuse violations ranged from an estimated 4,010 in 1992 to 7,230 in 1994, and for weapons possessions from 1,760 in 1992 to 1,960 in 1994.

To allow comparisons across kinds of institutions, the number of arrests was standardized by the total number of students to obtain the number of reported arrests for the various crimes per 1,000 students. Liquor law violations resulted in an estimated 1.29 arrests per 1,000 students in 1992, 1.27 per 1,000 students in 1993, and 1.40 per 1,000 students in 1994 (Table 12). Arrests per 1,000 students for liquor law violations generally were higher for public 4-year than for other types of institutions. Institutions with 25 percent or more of their students in campus housing had a higher number of arrests per 1,000 students for liquor law violations than did institutions with less than 25 percent of their students in campus housing, which in turn had a higher number of arrests per 1,000 students than did institutions with no campus housing. For example, 1994 arrests for liquor law violations were 2.84 per 1,000 students at public 4-year institutions compared with 0.03 per 1,000 students at for-profit less-than-2-year institutions, and were 0.09 per 1,000 students at institutions without campus housing compared with 3.00 arrests per 1,000 students at institutions with 25 percent or more of students in campus housing. Institutions in mid-size cities and towns or rural areas also tended to have a greater number of arrests per 1,000 students for liquor law violations than did institutions in large cities or urban fringe areas, and larger institutions had a greater number of arrests per 1,000 students than did smaller institutions.

An estimated 0.28 arrests per 1,000 students for drug abuse violations occurred in 1992, 0.38 per 1,000 students in 1993, and 0.50 per 1,000 students in 1994 (Table 12). As with liquor law violations, arrests per 1,000 students for drug abuse violations generally were higher for public 4-year than for other types of institutions (with the exception of the other less-than-2-year institutions), and they were higher for institutions with more campus housing. No clear patterns of differences emerged for metropolitan status and size of the institution.

There were an estimated 0.12 arrests per 1,000 students for weapons possessions in 1992 and 0.13 per 1,000 students in both 1993 and 1994 (Table 12). Institutions that have campus housing were more likely to report arrests for weapons possessions than were institutions that do not have campus housing.

Definitions Used for Compiling Crime Statistics

The Campus Security Act specifies that the crimes are to be defined in accordance with the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program. However, other studies, such as the annual compilation of crime statistics from large higher education institutions by The Chronicle of Higher Education, have found that many institutions are not using these definitions. This PEQIS study asked institutions which one set of definitions the institution used for compiling their crime statistics for the targeted crimes: the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR)/National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) definitions, state crime definitions, or some other set of definitions.

The FBI UCR/NIBRS definitions were used by 40 percent of postsecondary institutions, state crime definitions by 45 percent of institutions, and other definitions by 16 percent of institutions (Table 13). Use of definitions varied greatly by institutional characteristics. While 83 percent of public 4-year, 61 percent of private 4-year, and 48 percent of public 2-year institutions used the FBI definitions, 24 percent or fewer of the private 2-year and the less-than-2-year institutions used these definitions. About two-thirds of the institutions with campus housing (both less than 25 percent and 25 percent or more) used the FBI definitions, compared with 26 percent of institutions without campus housing. Larger institutions used the FBI definitions more frequently than did smaller institutions. Most institutions that did not use the FBI definitions used state crime definitions instead, although 20 to 28 percent of the private 2-year and the less-than-2-year institutions, institutions with no campus housing, and institutions with less than 200 students used some other set of definitions. Other definitions reported by respondents include local police definitions, common knowledge, and the school reporting system. Almost no institutions indicated that they used a combination of federal and state definitions.

The relationship between institutional size and use of the various definitions produces some interesting student-level comparisons. While about the same percentage of institutions used the FBI and state crime definitions, about three-quarters (73 percent) of students attended institutions that used the FBI definitions, 24 percent attended institutions that used state crime definitions, and 4 percent attended institutions that used some other set of definitions (not shown in tables). Thus, the majority of students attended institutions using the mandated FBI definitions, and most of the remaining students attended institutions using state crime definitions.


5 Federal Register, April 24, 1994, Vol. 59, No. 82, page 22319.

6 Violent crimes are defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault (Uniform Crime Reports for the United States 1994. Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice. 1995. Washington, DC). The Campus Security Act requires institutions to report statistics for murder, forcible sex offenses (which includes forcible rape), robbery, and aggravated assault. For this report, a composite variable of total violent crime was constructed from the four crime categories required by the Act. Thus, all references in this report to violent crime should be interpreted to mean murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery, and aggravated assault.

7 Property crimes are defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft (Uniform Crime Reports for the United States 1994. Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice. 1995. Washington, DC.). The Campus Security Act requires institutions to report statistics for burglary and motor vehicle theft, but not for larcenytheft. For this report, a composite variable of total property crime was constructed from the two crime categories required by the Act. Thus, all references in this report to property crime should be interpreted to mean burglary and motor vehicle theft.

8 This inclusion was apparent on the questionnaires received for this survey, and it is also discussed in the annual crime report put out by The Chronicle of Higher Education (for example, see The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 26, 1996, page A37).

9 The number of students was obtained from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 1994 Fall Enrollment file. The total number of students was used: undergraduate and graduate, full and part time. Although the crime statistics apply to anyone on campus, including students, faculty and staff, and campus visitors, the number of students is the most widely available measure of institutional size. The number and percent of students by institutional characteristics are shown in table 1 in the background section of this report.

10Federal Register

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