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Indicator 16: Students’ Perceptions of Personal Safety at School and Away From School
(Last Updated: April 2019)

Between 2001 and 2017, the percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school during the school year decreased from 6 percent to 4 percent, and the percentage who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school during the school year decreased from 5 percent to 3 percent.

In the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, students ages 12–18 were asked how often73 they had been afraid of attack or harm at school74 and away from school during the school year. In 2017, about 4 percent of students ages 12–18 reported that they had been afraid of attack or harm at school during the school year (figure 16.1 and table 16.1). A lower percentage of students (3 percent) reported that they had been afraid of attack or harm away from school during the school year.


Figure 16.1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the school year, by location and sex: Selected years, 2001 through 2017

Figure 16.1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the school year, by location and sex: 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: “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. For the 2001 survey only, the wording was “attack or threaten to attack” instead of “attack or harm.” For more information, see appendix A.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2001 through 2017.


Between 2001 and 2017, the percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school during the school year decreased overall (from 6 to 4 percent), as well as among male students (from 6 to 3 percent) and female students (from 6 to 5 percent). In addition, the percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school decreased between 2001 and 2017 for White students (from 5 to 4 percent) and Hispanic students (from 11 to 4 percent); the percentage of Black students who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school first decreased from 9 percent in 2001 to 3 percent in 2015, but then increased to 7 percent in 2017. Despite the long-term overall decrease, more recently a higher percentage of students overall reported being afraid of attack or harm at school in 2017 (4 percent) than in 2015 (3 percent).

Between 2001 and 2017, the percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school during the school year decreased from 5 to 3 percent overall, from 4 to 2 percent for male students, and from 6 to 3 percent for female students. The percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school also decreased during this period for White students (from 4 to 2 percent) and for Hispanic students (from 7 to 3 percent); during this period, the percentage of Black students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school first increased from 6 percent in 2001 to 10 percent in 2003, but then decreased to 4 percent in 2017. The overall percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school did not measurably differ between 2015 and 2017. However, the percentage of male students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school was higher in 2017 (2 percent) than in 2015 (1 percent).

In 2017, higher percentages of female students ages 12–18 than of male students ages 12–18 reported being afraid of attack or harm at school (5 vs. 3 percent) and away from school (3 vs. 2 percent) during the school year. A higher percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native students (14 percent) than of Asian students, Hispanic students, White students, and students of Two or more races (4 percent each) reported being afraid of attack or harm at school. In addition, the percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school was higher for Black students (7 percent) than for Hispanic students and White students. The percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school in 2017 did not measurably differ by race/ethnicity.

In 2017, higher percentages of 6th- (4 percent), 7th- (5 percent), 8th- (4 percent), 9th- (6 percent), and 10th-graders (5 percent) than of 12th-graders (2 percent) reported being afraid of attack or harm at school during the school year (figure 16.2 and table 16.1). The percentage was also higher for 9th-graders than for 11th-graders (3 percent). The percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school during the school year was higher for 7th-, 8th-, 9th-, and 10th-graders (3 percent each), and for 11th-graders (4 percent), than for 12th-graders (1 percent).


Figure 16.2. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the school year, by location and grade: 2017

Figure 16.2. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the school year, by location and grade: 20175

! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
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, 2017.


In 2017, a higher percentage of students ages 12–18 in urban areas (5 percent) than of students in suburban areas (4 percent) reported being afraid of attack or harm at school during the school year (table 16.1). However, in 2017 the percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school during the school year did not measurably differ by urbanicity.


This indicator has been updated to include 2017 data. For more information: Table 16.1, and https://nces.ed.gov/programs/crime/.


73 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. For the 2001 survey only, the wording was “attack or threaten to attack” instead of “attack or harm.”
74 “At school” includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school.