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School Crime and Safety

Prevalence of Criminal Victimization at School

Last Updated: May 2021
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This indicator also appears under Preprimary, Elementary, and Secondary Education.

The percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being criminally victimized at school during the previous 6 months decreased from 4 percent in 2009 to 2 percent in 2019.

The School Crime Supplement (SCS)1 to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) allows for the comparison of criminal victimization rate data across student demographic characteristics (e.g., grade, sex, and race/ethnicity). Results from the most recent data collection show that in 2019 about 2 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being victimized at school2 during the previous 6 months, 2 percent of students reported theft,3 1 percent reported violent victimization,4 and less than one-half of 1 percent reported violent victimization excluding simple assault.5

Select a subgroup characteristic from drop-down menu below to view relevant text and figures.

Figure 1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported criminal victimization at school during the previous 6 months, by type of victimization: Selected years, 2009 through 2019
Figure 1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported criminal victimization at school during the previous 6 months, by type of victimization: Selected years, 2009 through 2019

1 In prior reports, “violent victimization excluding simple assault” was labeled as “serious violent victimization.”

NOTE: “Total victimization” includes theft and violent victimization. “Theft” includes attempted and completed purse-snatching, completed pickpocketing, and all attempted and completed thefts, with the exception of motor vehicle thefts. Theft does not include robbery, which involves the threat or use of force and is classified as a violent crime. “Violent victimization” includes rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault. “At school” includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding and because students who reported both theft and violent victimization are counted only once in total victimization. Although the indicator “Incidence of Victimization at School and Away From School” and this indicator (“Prevalence of Victimization at School”) present information on similar topics, the “Incidence” indicator is based solely on data collected in the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), while this indicator is based on data collected in the School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the NCVS as well as demographic data collected in the NCVS. The “Incidence” indicator uses data from all students ages 12–18 who responded to the NCVS, while this indicator uses data from all students ages 12–18 who responded to both the NCVS and the SCS. Inclusion criteria for the NCVS and SCS differ slightly. For example, students who are exclusively homeschooled are able to complete the NCVS but not the SCS.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2009 through 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 228.30.

Between 2009 and 2019, the overall percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being victimized at school during the previous 6 months decreased (from 4 to 2 percent), as did the percentage of students who reported theft (from 3 to 2 percent). The percentages of students who reported violent victimization and violent victimization excluding simple assault in 2019 were not measurably different from the percentages in 2009. In both years, the percentages of students reporting violent victimization excluding simple assault were about 0.3 percent. [Time series ]
Figure 2. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported criminal victimization at school during the previous 6 months, by selected student and school characteristics: 2009 and 2019
Figure 2. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported criminal victimization at school during the previous 6 months, by selected student and school characteristics: 2009 and 2019

---Not available.

! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.

‡Reporting standards not met. Either there are too few cases for a reliable estimate or the coefficient of variation (CV) is 50 percent or greater.

1 Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Data for Asian, Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native students did not meet reporting standards in 2009 and 2019; therefore, data for these three groups are not shown.

2 Excludes students with missing information about the school characteristic.

NOTE: "Total victimization" includes theft and violent victimization. "At school" includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school. Although the indicator “Incidence of Victimization at School and Away From School” and this indicator (“Prevalence of Victimization at School”) present information on similar topics, the “Incidence” indicator is based solely on data collected in the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), while this indicator is based on data collected in the School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the NCVS as well as demographic data collected in the NCVS. The “Incidence” indicator uses data from all students ages 12–18 who responded to the NCVS, while this indicator uses data from all students ages 12–18 who responded to both the NCVS and the SCS. Inclusion criteria for the NCVS and SCS differ slightly. For example, students who are exclusively homeschooled are able to complete the NCVS but not the SCS.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2009 and 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 228.30.

The percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being victimized at school during the previous 6 months decreased between 2009 and 2019 for both male (from 5 to 3 percent) and female (from 3 to 2 percent) students, as well as for White (from 4 to 3 percent) and Hispanic (from 4 to 2 percent) students. At most grade levels, there was no measurable difference in victimization between 2009 and 2019. Among 9th-graders, however, reported victimization decreased over the period (from 5 to 3 percent). The other exception was 11th-graders, for whom victimization was lower in 2019 (2 percent) than in 2009 (5 percent), although there was no consistent downward trend throughout the decade. [Time series ] [Multiple student characteristics]
For the locale and control of students’ schools, comparable data have only been available since 2015.6 For each individual student subgroup by school locale or control, the percentage of students reporting victimization in 2019 was not measurably different from the percentage in 2015. [Time series ] [Multiple school characteristics]
In 2019, the percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported any victimization at school during the previous 6 months was higher for 6th-, 7th-, 9th-, and 10th-graders (3 percent each) than for 12th-graders (1 percent). The percentage of students who reported any victimization at school in 2019 was also higher for students of Two or more races (7 percent) than for Hispanic students (2 percent) and for students enrolled in schools in cities (3 percent) than for students enrolled in schools in suburban areas (2 percent). However, there were no measurable differences in theft or violent victimization, specifically, by students’ grade, race/ethnicity, or school locale. In contrast, a higher percentage of male students than of female students reported any victimization at school (3 vs. 2 percent), which was driven largely by a higher percentage of violent victimization for male students (2 percent vs. less than 1 percent). [Multiple student characteristics]

1 Although the indicator “Incidence of Victimization at School and Away From School” and this indicator (“Prevalence of Victimization at School”) present information on similar topics, the “Incidence” indicator is based solely on data collected in the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), while this indicator is based on data collected in the School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the NCVS as well as demographic data collected in the NCVS. The “Incidence” indicator uses data from all students ages 12–18 who responded to the NCVS, while this indicator uses data from all students ages 12–18 who responded to both the NCVS and the SCS. Inclusion criteria for the NCVS and SCS differ slightly. For example, students who are exclusively homeschooled are able to complete the NCVS but not the SCS. Thus, the calculation of estimates presented in this indicator is based on a subset of the student sample used to calculate the estimates presented in the “Incidence” indicator.

2 “Being victimized” includes both theft and violent victimization. “At school” includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school.

3 “Theft” includes attempted and completed purse-snatching, completed pickpocketing, and all attempted and completed thefts, with the exception of motor vehicle thefts. Theft does not include robbery, which involves the threat or use of force and is classified as a violent crime. Although the total percentage of students ages 12–18 reporting being victimized (which includes theft and violent victimization) and the percentage reporting theft both rounded to 2 percent in 2019, about 2.5 percent reported being victimized and 1.5 percent reported theft.

4 “Violent victimization” includes rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault.

5 “Violent victimization excluding simple assault” includes rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault. In prior reports, this was labeled as “serious violent victimization.”

6 For 2013 and prior years, the four-category school locale information (city, suburban, town, and rural) was not available and data by the control of school (public or private) were based on school information provided by the respondent. Beginning in 2015, data by the control of school were based on school information collected in the Common Core of Data and the Private School Universe Survey, which was appended to the School Crime Supplement data file and disaggregated at the student level; therefore, these data may not be entirely comparable with figures for earlier years. Analyses by school locale and control of school exclude students with missing information about the school characteristic.

Supplemental Information

Suggested Citation

National Center for Education Statistics. (2022). Prevalence of Criminal Victimization at School. Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved [date], from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/a03.