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School Crime and Safety

Students’ Reports of Safety and Security Measures Observed at School

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

In 2019, about 86 percent of students ages 12–18 reported observing one or more security cameras to monitor their school, and 75 percent of students reported the presence of security guards or assigned police officers.

In the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, students ages 12–18 were asked whether their schools used certain safety and security measures.1 Students were asked about metal detectors, locker checks, security cameras, security guards or assigned police officers, other adults supervising the hallway, a requirement that students wear badges or picture identification, a written code of student conduct, locked entrance or exit doors during the day, and a requirement that visitors sign in and wear visitor badges or stickers. In 2019, more than 99 percent of students ages 12–18 reported that they observed the use of at least one of the selected safety and security measures at their schools.

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 various safety and security measures at school: 2009 and 2019
Figure 1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported various safety and security measures at school: 2009 and 2019

— Not available.

1 Prior to 2015, the question asked simply whether the school had “A requirement that visitors sign in.” As of 2015, the question has also included the requirement that visitors wear badges or stickers. Data for 2009 have been omitted because the change in questionnaire wording may affect comparability of the data over time.

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

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 233.80.

In 2019, about 94 percent of students ages 12–18 reported that their schools had a written code of student conduct, higher than the percentages for all other safety and security measures examined. Most students also reported a requirement that visitors sign in and wear visitor badges or stickers (90 percent), the presence of school staff or other adults (other than security guards or assigned police officers) supervising the hallway (89 percent), the use of one or more security cameras to monitor the school (86 percent), locked entrance or exit doors during the day (85 percent), and the presence of security guards or assigned police officers (75 percent). About 47 percent reported locker checks, and 28 percent reported that students were required to wear badges or picture identification at their schools. About 12 percent of students reported the use of metal detectors at their schools, making this the least observed of all selected safety and security measures in 2019. [Other]
In the past decade, four safety and security measures have become more prevalent based on students’ observations. The percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported observing the use of one or more security cameras to monitor the school increased between 2009 and 2019 (from 70 to 86 percent), as did the percentages of students who reported observing the use of locked entrance or exit doors during the day (from 64 to 85 percent) and who reported observing the presence of security guards or assigned police officers (from 68 to 75 percent). The percentage of students who reported a requirement that students wear badges or picture identification was higher in 2019 than in 2009 (28 vs. 23 percent), although there was no consistent upward trend throughout the decade. [Time series ]
In contrast, three safety and security measures have become less prevalent. The percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported observing locker checks decreased between 2009 and 2019 (from 54 to 47 percent). Lower percentages of students in 2019 than in 2009 reported a written code of student conduct (94 vs. 96 percent) and the presence of school staff or other adults (other than security guards or assigned police officers) supervising the hallway (89 vs. 91 percent), although there was no consistent downward trend for either measure throughout the decade. The percentage of students who reported observing metal detectors was not measurably different between 2009 and 2019. [Time series ]

1 This indicator relies on student reports of safety and security measures and provides estimates based on students’ awareness of the measure rather than on documented practice. See Safety and Security Practices at Public Schools for a summary of the use of various safety and security measures as reported by schools.

Supplemental Information

Table 233.80 (Digest 2020): Percentage of students ages 12-18 who reported various security measures at school: Selected years, 1999 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’ Reports of Safety and Security Measures Observed at School. Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved [date], from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/a20.