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Indicator 17: Students' Perceptions of Personal Safety at School and Away From School
(Last Updated: May 2017)

The percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school decreased from 12 percent in 1995 to 3 percent in 2015, and the percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school decreased from 6 percent in 1999 to 2 percent in 2015.

In the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, students ages 12–18 were asked how often77 they had been afraid of attack or harm at school78 and away from school. In 2015, about 3 percent of students ages 12–18 reported that they were afraid of attack or harm at school during the school year (figure 17.1 and table 17.1). A lower percentage of students (2 percent) reported that they were afraid of attack or harm away from school during the school year.


Figure 17.1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the school year, by location and sex: Selected years, 1995 through 2015

Figure 17.1. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the school year, by location and sex: Selected years, 1995 through 2015

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, from 2001 onward, 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 changed from “attack or harm” to “attack or threaten to attack.” Data on being afraid of attack or harm away from school were not collected in 1995. For more information, please see appendix A.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 1995 through 2015.


Between 1995 and 2015, the percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school decreased overall (from 12 to 3 percent), as well as among male students (from 11 to 3 percent) and female students (from 13 to 4 percent). In addition, the percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school decreased between 1995 and 2015 for White students (from 8 to 3 percent), Black students (from 20 to 3 percent), and Hispanic students (from 21 to 5 percent). A declining trend was also observed away from school: between 1999 (the first year of data collection for this item) and 2015, the percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school decreased from 6 to 2 percent overall, from 4 to 1 percent for male students, and from 7 to 3 percent for female students. The percentages of White, Black, and Hispanic students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school also decreased during this period (from 4 to 2 percent for White students and from 9 to 3 percent each for Black and Hispanic students).

Between the two most recent survey years, 2013 and 2015, no measurable differences were found in the overall percentages of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm, either at school or away from school. However, the percentage of male students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school was lower in 2015 (1 percent) than in 2013 (2 percent).

In 2015, a higher percentage of female students than of male students reported being afraid of attack or harm at school (4 vs. 3 percent) and away from school (3 vs. 1 percent). In general, the percentages of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school and away from school were not measurably different across racial/ethnic groups. However, a higher percentage of Hispanic students (5 percent) than of White students (3 percent) reported being afraid of attack or harm at school in 2015. Similarly, a higher percentage of Hispanic students (3 percent) than of White students (2 percent) reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school. 

Higher percentages of 6th-graders (5 percent) and 7th- and 8th-graders (4 percent each) reported being afraid of attack or harm at school than did 10th- and 12th-graders (2 percent each) in 2015. The percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school was higher for 8th-graders (3 percent) than for 10th-graders (1 percent).

In 2015, higher percentages of students in urban (3 percent) and suburban areas (2 percent) than of students in rural areas (1 percent) reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school (figure 17.2). However, no measurable differences by urbanicity were observed in the percentage of students who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school.


Figure 17.2. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the school year, by location and urbanicity: 2015

Figure 17.2. Percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the school year, by location and urbanicity: 2015

! 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. 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).”
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2015


This indicator repeats information from the Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2016 report. For more information: Table 17.1, and https://nces.ed.gov/programs/crime/.


77 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 changed from "attack or harm" to "attack or threaten to attack."
78 "At school" includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and, from 2001 onward, going to and from school.