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Indicator 1: Violent Deaths at School and Away From School
(Last Updated: April 2019)

Between 1992–93 and 2015–16, the percentage of youth homicides occurring at school each year remained at less than 3 percent of the total number of youth homicides, and the percentage of youth suicides occurring at school each year remained at less than 1 percent of the total number of youth suicides.

Violent deaths at schools are rare but tragic events with far-reaching effects on the school population and surrounding community. This indicator presents data on school-associated violent deaths that were collected through the School-Associated Violent Death Surveillance System (SAVD-SS), as well as data on total homicides and suicides by school year identified through the National Vital Statistics System. The SAVD-SS defines a school-associated violent death as “a homicide, suicide, or legal intervention death (involving a law enforcement officer),15 in which the fatal injury occurred on the campus of a functioning elementary or secondary school in the United States.” School-associated violent deaths also include those that occurred while the victim was on the way to or returning from regular sessions at school or while the victim was attending or traveling to or from an official school-sponsored event. Victims of school-associated violent deaths may include not only students and staff members, but also others at school,16 such as students’ parents and community members.

The most recent data released by the SAVD-SS cover the period from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016. During this period, there were a total of 38 student, staff, and other nonstudent school-associated violent deaths in the United States, which included 30 homicides, 7 suicides, and 1 legal intervention death (figure 1.1 and table 1.1).17 Of these 38 school-associated violent deaths, 18 homicides and 3 suicides involved school-age youth (ages 5–18; also referred to as “youth” in this indicator). When these incidents of homicide and suicide of school-age youth at school were combined, there was approximately 1 youth violent death at school for every 2.7 million students enrolled.18


Figure 1.1. Number of student, staff, and other nonstudent school-associated violent deaths, and number of homicides and suicides of youth ages 5–18 at school: School years 1992–93 to 2015–16

Figure 1.1. Number of student, staff, and other nonstudent school-associated violent deaths, and number of homicides and suicides of youth ages 5–18 at school: School years 1992–93 to 2015–16

1 Data from 1999–2000 onward are subject to change until law enforcement reports have been obtained and interviews with school and law enforcement officials have been completed. The details learned during the interviews can occasionally change the classification of a case. For more information on this survey, see appendix A.
2 A school-associated violent death is defined as “a homicide, suicide, or legal intervention death (involving a law enforcement officer), in which the fatal injury occurred on the campus of a functioning elementary or secondary school in the United States,” while the victim was on the way to or from regular sessions at school, or while the victim was attending or traveling to or from an official school-sponsored event. Victims may include not only students and staff members, but also others at school, such as students’ parents and community members.
NOTE: “At school” includes on the property of a functioning elementary or secondary school, on the way to or from regular sessions at school, and while attending or traveling to or from a school-sponsored event. In this indicator, the term “at school” is comparable in meaning to the term “school-associated.” All data are reported for the school year, defined as July 1 through June 30.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1992–2016 School-Associated Violent Death Surveillance System (SAVD-SS) (partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students), unpublished tabulation (October 2018).


Data for all violent deaths, including those occurring both at school and away from school, are included as a point of comparison for violent deaths occurring at school. As with the SAVD-SS data on school-associated violent deaths, the most recent data available for total homicides and suicides of school-age youth are for the 2015–16 school year. During this period, there were 1,478 youth homicides and 1,941 youth suicides19 in the United States (figure 1.2 and table 1.1).


Figure 1.2. Percentage distribution and number of homicides and suicides of youth ages 5–18, by location: School year 2015–16

Figure 1.2. Percentage distribution and number of homicides and suicides of youth ages 5–18, by location: School year 2015–16

1 Data from the School-Associated Violent Death Surveillance System (SAVD-SS) are subject to change until interviews with school and law enforcement officials have been completed. The details learned during the interviews can occasionally change the classification of a case. For more information on this survey, see appendix A.
2 Total youth suicides exclude self-inflicted deaths among 5- to 9-year-olds. The number of self-inflicted deaths among 5- to 9-year-olds was less than 7 in 2015–16.
NOTE: “At school” includes on the property of a functioning elementary or secondary school, on the way to or from regular sessions at school, and while attending or traveling to or from a school-sponsored event. All data are reported for the school year, defined as July 1 through June 30.
SOURCE: Data on homicides and suicides of youth ages 5–18 at school are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2016 School-Associated Violent Death Surveillance System (SAVD-SS) (partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students), unpublished tabulation (October 2018); and data on total homicides and suicides of youth ages 5–18 are from the CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, 2016 National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), previously unpublished tabulation prepared by CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (October 2018).


The percentage of youth homicides occurring at school each year remained at less than 3 percent of the total number of youth homicides between 1992–93 (when data collection began) and 2015–16, even though the absolute number of homicides of school-age youth at school varied across the years.20 Between 1992–93 and 2015–16, number of school-age youth who died by suicide at school fluctuated each year and ranged from 1 to 10. The percentage of youth suicides occurring at school each year remained at less than 1 percent of the total number of youth suicides over these years.


This indicator has been updated to include 2015–16 data for school-associated violent deaths and for total homicides and suicides among youth in the United States. For more information: Table 1.1, and https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/schoolviolence/SAVD.html.


15 A legal intervention death is defined as a death caused by a law enforcement agent in the course of arresting or attempting to arrest a lawbreaker, suppressing a disturbance, maintaining order, or engaging in another legal action. 
16 “At school” includes on the property of a functioning elementary or secondary school, on the way to or from regular sessions at school, and while attending or traveling to or from a school-sponsored event. In this indicator, the term “at school” is comparable in meaning to the term “school-associated.”
17 Data from 1999–2000 onward are subject to change until law enforcement reports have been obtained and interviews with school and law enforcement officials have been completed. The details learned during the interviews can occasionally change the classification of a case. For more information on this survey, see appendix A.
18 The total number of students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade during the 2015–16 school year was 56,188,564 (see table 105.30 in Snyder, de Brey, and Dillow 2019).
19 Total youth suicides exclude self-inflicted deaths among 5- to 9-year-olds because determining suicidal intent in younger children can be difficult. The number of self-inflicted deaths among 5- to 9-year olds was generally less than 7 in each year between 1992–93 and 2015–16.
20 Single incidents occurring at school with a large number of school-age victims could result in large variations in the number of homicides of school-age youth at school between two years. Please use caution when making comparisons over time.