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Annual Reports and Information Staff (Annual Reports)
Preprimary, Elementary, and Secondary Education

Students’ Perceptions of Personal Safety at School and Away From School

Last Updated: May 2021
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This indicator also appears under School Crime and Safety.

In 2019, about 5 percent of students ages 12–18 reported that they had been afraid of attack or harm at school during the school year. A lower percentage of students (3 percent) reported that they had been afraid of attack or harm away from school during the school year.

In the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, students ages 12–18 were asked how often1 they had been afraid of attack or harm at school2 and away from school during the school year. In 2019, about 5 percent of students ages 12–18 reported that they had been afraid of attack or harm at school during the school year, which is higher than the percentage of students (3 percent) who reported that they had been afraid of attack or harm away from school during the school year.

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 being afraid of attack or harm during the school year, by location and race/ethnicity: 2019
Figure 1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the school year, by location and race/ethnicity: 2019

! 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 Total includes data for Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native students, which are not separately shown because data at school and away from school for these two groups did not meet reporting standards in 2019. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.

NOTE: “At school” includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school. Students were asked if they were “never,” “almost never,” “sometimes,” or “most of the time” afraid that someone would attack or harm them at school or away from school. Students responding “sometimes” or “most of the time” were considered afraid.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 230.70.

In 2019, among 12- to 18-year-olds, higher percentages of students who were of Two or more races (9 percent), Black (7 percent), and Hispanic (7 percent) than of students who were White (3 percent) and Asian (1 percent) reported being afraid of attack or harm at school. The percentage was also higher for White students than for Asian students. Away from school, the percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the school year was higher for Hispanic and Black students (both 4 percent) than for White students (2 percent). [Race/ethnicity ]
Figure 2. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the school year, by location and grade: 2019
Figure 2. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the school year, by location and grade: 2019

NOTE: “At school” includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school. Students were asked if they were “never,” “almost never,” “sometimes,” or “most of the time” afraid that someone would attack or harm them at school or away from school. Students responding “sometimes” or “most of the time” were considered afraid. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 230.70.

In 2019, the percentage of 6th-graders (8 percent) who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school was higher than the percentages of 8th- to 12th-graders (ranging from 3 percent to 5 percent). The percentage was also higher for 7th-graders (6 percent) than for 12th-graders (3 percent). However, there were no measurable differences observed by grade level in the percentages of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school during the school year. [Grade level/Student level]
In 2019, a higher percentage of students ages 12–18 enrolled in schools in cities (6 percent) than of students enrolled in schools in rural areas (3 percent) reported being afraid of attack or harm at school during the school year.3 However, in 2019, the percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school during the school year did not measurably differ by school locale. There was also no measurable difference in fear of attack or harm either at school or away from school between students who attended public and private schools. [Locale ] [Control of institution]
Figure 3. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the school year, by location and sex: Selected years, 2009 through 2019
Figure 3. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the school year, by location and sex: Selected years, 2009 through 2019

NOTE: “At school” includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school. Students were asked if they were “never,” “almost never,” “sometimes,” or “most of the time” afraid that someone would attack or harm them at school or away from school. Students responding “sometimes” or “most of the time” were considered afraid.

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 230.70.

Between 2009 and 2019, there was no measurable difference in the overall percentages of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school. However, there were some fluctuations in the intervening years. For instance, the overall percentage in 2019 (5 percent) was higher than the percentages in 2015 and 2013 (both 3 percent). Similarly, the overall percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school also fluctuated over this period, but there was no measurable difference between 2009 and 2019 (3 percent in both years). Additionally, there were no measurable differences between 2009 and 2019 in the percentages of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm, either at school or away from school, during the school year for most student subgroups by sex, race/ethnicity, and grade level. [Multiple student characteristics]
For the locale and control of students’ schools, comparable data have only been available since 2015.4 Mirroring the overall percentages, the percentages of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school were higher in 2019 than in 2015 for students enrolled in schools in cities (6 vs. 4 percent) and in public schools (5 vs. 4 percent). For each individual student subgroup by school locale or control, the percentage of students reporting being afraid of attack or harm away from school in 2019 was not measurably different from the percentage in 2015. [Time series ] [Locale ] [Control of institution]

1 Students were asked if they were “never,” “almost never,” “sometimes,” or “most of the time” afraid that someone would attack or harm them at school or away from school. Students responding “sometimes” or “most of the time” were considered afraid.

2 “At school” includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school.

3 Analyses by school locale exclude students with missing information about the school characteristic.

4 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 exclude students with missing information about the school characteristic.

Supplemental Information

Table 230.70 (Digest 2020): Percentage of students ages 12-18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm, by location and selected student and school characteristics: Selected years, 1995 through 2019
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Previous versions of this indicator available in the Indicators of School Crime and Safety reports.
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Suggested Citation

National Center for Education Statistics. (2022). Students’ Perceptions of Personal Safety at School and Away From School. Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved [date], from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/a16.