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Key Findings

Preliminary data show that there were 47 school-associated violent deaths1 from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015 (Indicator 1). In 2016, among students ages 12–18, there were about 749,400 victimizations (theft2 and nonfatal violent victimization3) at school4 and 601,300 victimizations away from school (Indicator 2). During the 2015–16 school year, 10 percent of public school teachers reported being threatened with injury by a student from their school and 6 percent reported being physically attacked by a student from their school (Indicator 5). Also in 2015–16, about 37 percent of public schools (31,100 schools) took at least one serious disciplinary action for specific offenses (Indicator 19).

The following key findings are drawn from each section of the report.

Spotlights


  • The percentage of public schools reporting the presence of security staff was higher during the 2015–16 school year than during the 2005–06 school year (57 vs. 42 percent). The percentage of schools reporting the presence of sworn law enforcement officers was also higher in 2015–16 than in 2005–06 (48 vs. 36 percent), as was the percentage of schools reporting the presence of a School Resource Officer (42 vs. 32 percent; Spotlight 1).

  • Among secondary schools with any sworn law enforcement officer present at least once a week, a lower percentage of schools in cities reported having an officer who carried a firearm (87 percent) compared with schools in towns (97 percent) and schools in suburban and rural areas (95 percent each; Spotlight 1).

  • Among public schools with any sworn law enforcement officers, a lower percentage of primary schools (51 percent) than of secondary schools (70 percent) reported their school or district had any formalized policies or written documents (such as a Memorandum of Use or Memorandum of Agreement) that outlined the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of sworn law enforcement officers at school (Spotlight 1).

  • During the 2015–16 school year, about 76 percent of public schools reported providing training for classroom teachers or aides on recognizing physical, social, and verbal bullying behaviors, 48 percent reported providing training on recognizing early warning signs of student violent behavior, and 30 percent reported providing training on recognizing signs of students using/abusing drugs and/or alcohol (Spotlight 2).

  • A greater percentage of public middle schools than of high schools and primary schools reported providing training on discipline policies and practices for cyberbullying and bullying other than cyberbullying in 2015–16. Similarly, a greater percentage of middle schools than of high schools and primary schools reported providing training on recognizing physical, social, and verbal bullying behaviors (Spotlight 2).

  • The percentage of schools that reported providing training on classroom management for classroom teachers and aides was higher in 2015–16 (84 percent) than in 2013–14 (78 percent) and 2003–04 (72 percent; Spotlight 2).

  • In 2015, some 46 percent of 15-year-old students in the United States attended schools that reported that student learning was hindered, to some extent or a lot, by student truancy. This percentage was higher than the OECD average percentage (34 percent; Spotlight 3).

  • In 2015, about 19 percent of 15-year-old students in the United States attended schools that reported that student learning was hindered, to some extent or a lot, by student use of alcohol or illegal drugs, which was higher than the OECD average percentage (9 percent; Spotlight 3).

  • In 2015, some 14 percent of 15-year-old students in the United States attended schools that reported that student learning was hindered, to some extent or a lot, by students intimidating or bullying other students, which was not measurably different from the OECD average percentage (11 percent; Spotlight 3).

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Violent Deaths


  • A total of 47 student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths occurred between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015, which included 28 homicides, 17 suicides, and 2 legal intervention deaths5 (Indicator 1).

  • Between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015, a total of 20 of the 1,168 homicides of school-age youth (ages 5–18) occurred at school.6 During the same period, there were 9 suicides of school-age youth at school, compared with 1,785 total suicides of school-age youth that occurred in calendar year 2014 (Indicator 1).

Nonfatal Student and Teacher Victimization


  • In 2016, students ages 12–18 experienced 749,400 victimizations (theft and nonfatal violent victimization) at school and 601,300 victimizations away from school.7 These figures represent total crime victimization rates of 29 victimizations per 1,000 students at school and 24 per 1,000 students away from school (Indicator 2).

  • Between 1992 and 2016, total victimization rates for students ages 12–18 declined both at school and away from school. Specific crime types—thefts, violent victimizations, and serious violent victimizations—all declined between 1992 and 2016, both at and away from school (Indicator 2).

  • In 2016, the rate of total victimization at school was higher for males than for females. The total victimization rate for males was 38 per 1,000 male students, and the rate for females was 20 per 1,000 female students. This difference was primarily driven by a higher rate of violent victimization at school for males (25 per 1,000) than for females (10 per 1,000; Indicator 2).

  • In 2015, approximately 3 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being victimized at school during the previous 6 months. About 2 percent of students reported theft, 1 percent reported violent victimization, and less than one-half of 1 percent reported serious violent victimization (Indicator 3).

  • Between 1995 and 2015, the percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being victimized at school during the previous 6 months decreased overall (from 10 to 3 percent). During this period, the percentage of students who reported being victimized at school also decreased for both male (from 10 to 3 percent) and female students (from 9 to 3 percent), as well as for White (from 10 to 3 percent), Black (from 10 to 2 percent), and Hispanic students (from 8 to 2 percent; Indicator 3).

  • In 2015, about 6 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported that they had been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property8 during the previous 12 months. The percentage of students who reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property was lower in 2015 than in every survey year between 1993 and 2011; however, there was no measurable difference between the percentages in 2013 and 2015 (Indicator 4).

  • In each survey year from 1993 to 2015, a lower percentage of female students than of male students in grades 9–12 reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property in the previous 12 months (Indicator 4).

  • In 2015, lower percentages of Asian students (4 percent) and White students (5 percent) than of Black students (8 percent) and Pacific Islander students (20 percent) reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months (Indicator 4).

  • During the 2015–16 school year, a higher percentage of elementary public school teachers than of secondary public school teachers reported being threatened with injury (11 vs. 9 percent) or being physically attacked (9 vs. 2 percent) by a student (Indicator 5).

  • The percentage of public school teachers reporting that they had been physically attacked by a student from their school in 2015–16 (6 percent) was higher than in all previous survey years (around 4 percent in each survey year) except in 2011–12, when the percentage was not measurably different from that in 2015–16 (Indicator 5).

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School Environment


  • During the 2015–16 school year, 79 percent of public schools recorded that one or more incidents of violence,9 theft, or other crimes10 had taken place, amounting to 1.4 million crimes, or a rate of 28 crimes per 1,000 students enrolled. During the same year, 47 percent of schools reported one or more crime incidents to the police, amounting to 449,000 crimes, or 9 crimes per 1,000 students enrolled (Indicator 6).

  • The percentages of public schools recording incidents of crime and reporting incidents to the police were lower in 2015–16 than in every prior survey year (Indicator 6).

  • In 2015–16, about 69 percent of schools recorded one or more violent incidents of crime, 15 percent recorded one or more serious violent incidents,11 39 percent recorded one or more thefts, and 59 percent recorded one or more other incidents. Thirty-three percent of public schools reported at least one violent incident to the police, 10 percent reported at least one serious violent incident to the police, 18 percent reported at least one theft to the police, and 34 percent reported one or more other incidents to the police (Indicator 6).

  • The percentage of public schools that reported that student bullying occurred at least once a week decreased from 29 percent in 1999–2000 to 12 percent in 2015–16. Similarly, the percentage of schools that reported the occurrence of student verbal abuse of teachers at least once a week decreased from 13 percent in 1999–2000 to 5 percent in 2015–16 (Indicator 7).

  • During the 2015–16 school year, the percentage of public schools that reported student bullying occurred at least once a week was higher for middle schools (22 percent) than for high schools (15 percent), combined schools (11 percent), and primary schools (8 percent; Indicator 7).

  • In 2015–16, about 12 percent of public schools reported that cyberbullying had occurred among students at least once a week at school or away from school. Seven percent of public schools also reported that the school environment was affected by cyberbullying, and 6 percent of schools reported that staff resources were used to deal with cyberbullying (Indicator 7).

  • Between 2001 and 2015, the percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported that gangs were present at their school decreased from 20 to 11 percent. The percentage who reported gangs were present at their school was also lower in 2015 than in 2013 (12 percent; Indicator 8).

  • A higher percentage of students from urban areas (15 percent) reported a gang presence than of students from suburban (10 percent) and rural areas (4 percent) in 2015. Additionally, a higher percentage of students attending public schools (11 percent) than of students attending private schools (2 percent) reported that gangs were present at their school in 2015 (Indicator 8).

  • In 2015, higher percentages of Black (17 percent) and Hispanic (15 percent) students reported the presence of gangs at their school than of White (7 percent) and Asian (4 percent) students (Indicator 8).

  • The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property decreased from 32 percent in 1995 to 22 percent in 2015 (Indicator 9).

  • In 2015, lower percentages of Asian students (15 percent), White students (20 percent), and Black students (21 percent) than of Hispanic students (27 percent) reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property (Indicator 9).

  • During the 2014–15 school year, the rate of illicit drug-related discipline incidents was 389 per 100,000 students in the United States. The majority of jurisdictions had rates between 100 and 1,000 illicit drug-related discipline incidents per 100,000 students during the 2014–15 school year. Three states had rates of illicit drug-related discipline incidents per 100,000 students that were below 100: Wyoming, Texas, and Michigan, while Kentucky had the only rate that was above 1,000 (Indicator 9).

  • The percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being the target of hate-related words at school during the school year decreased from 12 percent in 2001 (the first year of data collection for this item) to 7 percent in 2015 (Indicator 10).

  • The percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported seeing hate-related graffiti at school during the school year decreased from 36 percent in 1999 (the first year of data collection for this item) to 27 percent in 2015 (Indicator 10).

  • In 2015, lower percentages of White (6 percent) and Hispanic (7 percent) students than of Black (9 percent) students and students of other racial/ethnic groups (11 percent) reported being called a hate-related word at school during the school year. Also in 2015, a lower percentage of Asian students than students of any other race/ethnicity reported seeing hate-related graffiti at school during the school year (Indicator 10).

  • In 2015, about 21 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year. A higher percentage of female than of male students reported being bullied at school during the school year (23 vs. 19 percent; Indicator 11).

  • In 2015, about 33 percent of students who reported being bullied at school indicated that they were bullied at least once or twice a month during the school year. The percentage of students who reported notifying an adult after being bullied at school was higher for those who reported being bullied once or twice a week than for those who reported being bullied once or twice a year (63 vs. 37 percent; Indicator 11).

  • Of students who reported being bullied at school during the school year in 2015, about 19 percent reported that bullying had somewhat or a lot of negative effect on how they felt about themselves, 14 percent each reported that bullying had somewhat or a lot of negative effect on their relationships with friends or family and on their school work, and 9 percent reported that bullying had somewhat or a lot of negative effect on their physical health (Indicator 11).

  • Between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of students reporting being bullied at school during the school year decreased from 28 to 21 percent. During this period, the percentage of students who reported being bullied at school also decreased for students in suburban and rural areas as well as for those in public schools (Indicator 11).

  • During the 2015–16 school year, 43 percent of public school teachers agreed or strongly agreed that student misbehavior interfered with their teaching, and 38 percent agreed or strongly agreed that student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching. A higher percentage of secondary school teachers than of elementary school teachers reported that student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching (48 vs. 32 percent; Indicator 12).

  • During the 2015–16 school year, 67 percent of public school teachers agreed or strongly agreed that other teachers at their school enforced the school rules, and 84 percent agreed or strongly agreed that the principal enforced the school rules (Indicator 12).

  • The percentage of teachers who reported that student misbehavior interfered with their teaching fluctuated between 1993–94 and 2015–16; however, the percentage of teachers reporting that student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching increased over this time period (from 28 to 38 percent; Indicator 12).

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Fights, Weapons, and Illegal Substances


  • The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported being in a physical fight anywhere decreased between 1993 and 2015 (from 42 to 23 percent), and the percentage who reported being in a physical fight on school property also decreased during this period (from 16 to 8 percent; Indicator 13).

  • In 2015, a higher percentage of 9th-graders than of 10th-, 11th-, and 12th-graders reported being in a physical fight, either anywhere or on school property, during the previous 12 months (Indicator 13).

  • The percentages of students who reported being in a physical fight anywhere and on school property during the previous 30 days were higher for self-identified gay, lesbian, or bisexual students (28 and 11 percent, respectively) and students who were not sure about their sexual orientation (35 and 15 percent, respectively) than for their self-identified heterosexual peers (22 and 7 percent, respectively; Indicator 13).

  • The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported carrying a weapon anywhere during the previous 30 days decreased from 22 percent in 1993 to 16 percent in 2015, and the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon on school property during the previous 30 days decreased from 12 percent in 1993 to 4 percent in 2015 (Indicator 14).

  • During the 2015–16 school year, there were 1,600 reported firearm possession incidents at schools in the United States, and the rate of firearm possession incidents was 3 per 100,000 students. Three states had rates above 10: Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri (Indicator 14).

  • The percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported that they had access to a loaded gun without adult permission, either at school or away from school, during the current school year decreased from 7 percent in 2007 to 4 percent in 2015 (Indicator 14).

  • The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported consuming alcohol on at least 1 day during the previous 30 days decreased from 48 to 33 percent between 1993 and 2015 (Indicator 15).

  • In 2015, a higher percentage of self-identified gay, lesbian, or bisexual students than of self-identified heterosexual students reported consuming alcohol on at least 1 day during the previous 30 days (40 vs. 32 percent; Indicator 15).

  • During the 2014–15 school year, the rate of alcohol-related discipline incidents was 45 per 100,000 students in the United States. The majority of jurisdictions had rates between 10 and 100 alcohol-related discipline incidents per 100,000 students during the 2014–15 school year. Two states had rates of alcohol-related discipline incidents per 100,000 students that were below 10: Texas and Wyoming, while six states had rates above 100: Arkansas, Alaska, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, and Colorado (Indicator 15).

  • In 2015, some 22 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported using marijuana at least one time during the previous 30 days, which was higher than the percentage reported in 1993 (18 percent) but not measurably different from that reported in 2013 (Indicator 16).

  • In every survey year between 1993 and 2011, higher percentages of male students than of female students reported using marijuana at least one time during the previous 30 days; in 2013 and 2015, however, there were no measurable differences in the percentages reported by male and female students (Indicator 16).

  • A higher percentage of self-identified gay, lesbian, or bisexual students than of self-identified heterosexual students reported using marijuana at least one time during the previous 30 days (32 vs. 21 percent; Indicator 16).

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Fear and Avoidance


  • 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 (Indicator 17).

  • In 2015, a higher percentage of female students than of male students, as well as a higher percentage of Hispanic students than of White students, reported being afraid of attack or harm at school and away from school. Additionally, higher percentages of students in urban and suburban areas than of students in rural areas reported being afraid of attack or harm away from school (Indicator 17).

  • In 2015, about 5 percent of students ages 12–18 reported that they avoided at least one school activity or class12 or one or more places in school13  during the previous school year because they thought someone might attack or harm them (Indicator 18).

  • In 2015, higher percentages of students in urban (5 percent) and suburban areas (4 percent) reported avoiding one or more places in school than did students in rural areas (2 percent). In addition, a higher percentage of public school students than of private school students reported avoiding one or more places in school (Indicator 18).

Discipline, Safety, and Security Measures


  • During the 2015–16 school year, 37 percent of public schools (31,100 schools) took at least one serious disciplinary action—including out-of-school suspensions lasting 5 days or more, removals with no services for the remainder of the school year, and transfers to specialized schools—for specific offenses (Indicator 19).

  • Of the serious disciplinary actions taken by public schools during the 2015–16 school year, 72 percent were out-of-school suspensions for 5 days or more, 24 percent were transfers to specialized schools, and 4 percent were removals with no services for the remainder of the school year (Indicator 19).

  • The percentage of public schools taking at least one serious disciplinary action was lower in 2015–16 than in 2003–04 across all specific offense types except the distribution, possession, or use of alcohol, for which there was no measurable difference between the two years (Indicator 19).

  • A greater percentage of public high schools (94 percent) than of public middle schools (89 percent) reported the use of security cameras to monitor the school, and the percentages of high schools and middle schools using security cameras were both higher than the percentage of primary schools doing so (73 percent; Indicator 20).

  • The percentage of public schools reporting the use of security cameras increased from 19 percent in 1999–2000 to 81 percent in 2015–16. Similarly, the percentage of public schools reporting that they controlled access to school buildings increased from 75 percent to 94 percent during this period (Indicator 20).

  • The percentage of public schools that had a plan in place for procedures to be performed in the event of a shooting increased over time, from 79 percent in 2003–04 to 92 percent in 2015–16 (Indicator 20).

  • In 2015, nearly all students ages 12–18 (rounds to 100 percent) reported that they observed the use of at least one of the selected safety and security measures at their schools. The three most commonly observed safety and security measures were a written code of student conduct (96 percent), a requirement that visitors sign in (90 percent), and the presence of school staff (other than security guards or assigned police officers) or other adults supervising the hallway (90 percent; Indicator 21).

  • The percentage of students who reported locked entrance or exit doors during the day increased between 1999 and 2015 (from 38 to 78 percent), as did the percentages of students who reported the presence of metal detectors (from 9 to 12 percent) and the presence of security guards or assigned police officers (from 54 to 70 percent). From 2001 to 2015, the percentage of students who reported the use of security cameras at their schools increased from 39 to 83 percent (Indicator 21).

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Postsecondary Campus Safety and Security


  • In 2015, about 27,500 criminal incidents on campuses at postsecondary institutions were reported to police and security agencies, representing a 2 percent increase from 2014, when 26,900 criminal incidents were reported. The number of on-campus crimes reported per 10,000 full-time-equivalent students also increased, from 18.0 in 2014 to 18.5 in 2015 (Indicator 22).

  • The number of on-campus crimes reported in 2015 was lower than the number reported in 2001 for every category except forcible sex offenses and murder.14 The number of reported forcible sex crimes on campus increased from 2,200 in 2001 to 8,000 in 2015 (a 262 percent increase; Indicator 22).

  • The number of on-campus arrests for illegal weapons possession, drug law violations, and liquor law violations increased between 2001 and 2011 (from 40,300 to 54,300) but has decreased since 2011. In 2015, there were 242,100 referrals for disciplinary action for cases involving illegal weapons possession, drug law violations, and liquor law violations, with the largest number of disciplinary referrals (184,700) for liquor law violations (Indicator 22).

  • In 2015, out of the 860 total hate crimes reported on college campuses, the most common type of hate crime was destruction, damage, and vandalism (363 incidents), followed by intimidation (357 incidents) and simple assault (79 incidents). These were also the three most common types of hate crimes reported by institutions from 2011 to 2014 (Indicator 23).

  • Race, religion, and sexual orientation were the categories of motivating bias most frequently associated with hate crimes in 2015 (Indicator 23).

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1A 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 include students, staff members, and others who are not students or staff members.
2"Theft" includes attempted and completed purse-snatching, completed pickpocketing, and all attempted and completed thefts, with the exception of motor vehicle thefts. Theft does not include robbery, which involves the threat or use of force and is classified as a violent crime.
3"Violent victimization" includes serious violent crimes and simple assault.
4"At school" includes inside the school building, on school property, and on the way to or from school.
5A 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.
6This finding is drawn from the School-Associated Violent Death Surveillance System, which defines deaths "at school" as those that occur on the property of a functioning primary or secondary school, on the way to or from regular sessions at school, or while attending or traveling to or from a school-sponsored event.
7"Students" refers to youth ages 12–18 whose educational attainment did not exceed grade 12 at the time of the survey. An uncertain percentage of these persons may not have attended school during the survey reference period. These data do not take into account the number of hours that students spend at school or away from school.
8"On school property" was not defined for survey respondents in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
9"Violent incidents" include rape, sexual assault other than rape, physical attack or fight with or without a weapon, threat of physical attack with or without a weapon, and robbery with or without a weapon.
10"Other incidents" include possession of a firearm or explosive device; possession of a knife or sharp object; distribution, possession, or use of illegal drugs or alcohol; inappropriate distribution, possession, or use of prescription drugs; and vandalism.
11"Serious violent incidents" include rape, sexual assault other than rape, physical attack or fight with a weapon, threat of physical attack with a weapon, and robbery with or without a weapon.
12"Avoided school activities or classes" includes avoiding any (extracurricular) activities, avoiding any classes, and staying home from school. Students who reported more than one type of avoidance of school activities or classes were counted only once in the total for avoiding activities or classes.
13"Avoided one or more places in school" includes avoiding entrance to the school, hallways or stairs in school, parts of the school cafeteria, any school restrooms, and other places inside the school building. Students who reported avoiding multiple places in school were counted only once in the total for students avoiding one or more places.
14The number of negligent manslaughter offenses was the same in 2001 and 2015 (2 incidents).