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Indicator 8: Students’ Reports of Gangs at School
(Last Updated: April 2019)

Between 2001 and 2017, the percentage of students ages 12—18 who reported that gangs were present at their school during the school year decreased overall (from 20 to 9 percent), as well as for students from urban areas (from 29 to 11 percent), suburban areas (from 18 to 8 percent), and rural areas (from 13 to 7 percent).

In order to assess gang activity in and around schools, the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey asked students ages 12–18 if gangs were present at their school47 during the school year. All gangs, whether or not they were involved in violent or illegal activity, were included. Between 2001 and 2017, the percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported that gangs were present at their school decreased from 20 to 9 percent. The percentage who reported that gangs were present at their school was also lower in 2017 than in 2015 (11 percent; figure 8.1 and table 8.1).


Figure 8.1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported that gangs were present at school during the school year, by urbanicity: Selected years, 2001 through 2017

Figure 8.1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported that gangs were present at school during the school year, by urbanicity: Selected years, 2001 through 2017

1 In 2005 and prior years, the period covered by the survey question was “during the last 6 months,” whereas the period was “during this school year” beginning in 2007. Cognitive testing showed that estimates for earlier years are comparable to those for 2007 and later years.
NOTE: “Urbanicity” refers to the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) status of the respondent’s household as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Categories include “central city of an MSA (Urban),” “in MSA but not in central city (Suburban),” and “not MSA (Rural).” All gangs, whether or not they are involved in violent or illegal activity, are included. “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, 2001 through 2017.


In 2017, a higher percentage of students ages 12–18 from urban areas (11 percent) than of students from suburban (8 percent) and rural areas (7 percent) reported a gang presence at their school during the school year. The percentage of students who reported a gang presence at their school decreased between 2001 and 2017 for students from urban areas (from 29 to 11 percent), suburban areas (from 18 to 8 percent), and rural areas (from 13 to 7 percent). The percentage who reported that gangs were present at their school was also lower in 2017 than in 2015 for students from urban areas (11 vs. 15 percent) and from suburban areas (8 vs. 10 percent).

A higher percentage of students ages 12–18 attending public schools (9 percent) than of those attending private schools (2 percent) reported that gangs were present at their school during the school year in 2017 (table 8.2). The percentage of public school students who reported a gang presence was lower in 2017 than in 2015 (11 percent). However, the percentage of private school students reporting a gang presence at their school in 2017 was not measurably different from the percentage in 2015.

In 2017, a higher percentage of Black students ages 12–18 than of students of any other racial/ethnic group for which data were available48 reported the presence of gangs at their school during the school year. Specifically, 17 percent of Black students reported a gang presence, compared with 12 percent of Hispanic students, 10 percent of students of Two or more races, 5 percent of White students, and 2 percent of Asian students. In addition, a higher percentage of Hispanic students than of White students and Asian students reported the presence of gangs at their school, and higher percentages of students of Two or more races and White students than of Asian students also reported so. The percentage of White students who reported a gang presence was lower in 2017 than in 2015 (5 vs. 7 percent), while the percentages reported in 2017 by students of other racial/ethnic groups were not measurably different from the percentages reported in 2015.

The percentages of students in 9th through 12th grade who reported a gang presence at their school during the school year were higher than the percentages for students in 6th through 8th grade in 2017. About 11 percent each of 9th- and 10th-graders and 10 percent each of 11th- and 12th-graders reported the presence of gangs, compared with 7 percent of 8th-graders and 5 percent each of 6th- and 7th-graders (figure 8.2 and table 8.2). The percentage of students who reported a gang presence at their school was higher in 2001 than in 2017 across all grades from 6th to 12th grade. However, there were no measurable differences between 2015 and 2017 in the percentages of students in any of these grades who reported a gang presence.


Figure 8.2. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported that gangs were present at school during the school year, by grade: 2001, 2015, and 2017

Figure 8.2. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported that gangs were present at school during the school year, by grade: 2001, 2015, and 2017

1 In 2005 and prior years, the period covered by the survey question was “during the last 6 months,” whereas the period was “during this school year” beginning in 2007. Cognitive testing showed that estimates for earlier years are comparable to those for 2007 and later years.
NOTE: All gangs, whether or not they are involved in violent or illegal activity, are included. “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, 2001, 2015, and 2017.


This indicator has been updated to include 2017 data. For more information: Tables 8.1 and 8.2, and https://nces.ed.gov/programs/crime/.


47 “At school” includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school.
48 Data for Pacific Islander students and American Indian/Alaska Native students did not meet reporting standards.