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Key Findings

Preliminary data show that there were 38 school-associated violent deaths1 from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016 (Indicator 1). In 2017, among students ages 12–18, there were about 827,000 total victimizations (theft2 and nonfatal violent victimization3) at school4 and 503,800 victimizations away from school (Indicator 2). In 2017, about 20 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year (Indicator 10). Also in 2017, about 16 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported that they had carried a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club anywhere at least 1 day during the previous 30 days, and 4 percent reported carrying a weapon on school property at least 1 day during the previous 30 days (Indicator 13).

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

Spotlights


  • The percentage of 8th-graders who reported using heroin during the past 12 months decreased from 1.4 percent in 1995 to 0.3 percent in 2017. This percentage also decreased from 1.1 to 0.2 percent for 10th-graders and from 1.1 to 0.4 percent for 12th-graders during the same period (Spotlight 1).

  • Among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders, those who had no plans to complete 4 years of college consistently reported higher rates of heroin use and use of OxyContin and Vicodin,5 two commonly prescribed narcotics, during the past 12 months than students who had plans to complete 4 years of college (Spotlight 1).

  • The percentages of students who reported that heroin and narcotics other than heroin would be fairly easy or very easy to get generally decreased between 1995 and 2017 among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders (Spotlight 1).

  • In 2017, of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied, about 41 percent reported that they thought the bullying would happen again. A higher percentage of White students (47 percent) than of Hispanic (33 percent) and Black (32 percent) students who reported being bullied thought the bullying would happen again (Spotlight 2).

  • A higher percentage of students in private schools (72 percent) than of students in public schools (55 percent) who reported being bullied thought those who bullied them had the ability to influence what other students thought of them in 2017. In addition, a higher percentage of female students (62 percent) than of male students (48 percent) reported that those who bullied them had the ability to influence what other students thought of them (Spotlight 2).

  • Higher percentages of 9th-graders (40 percent) and 10th-graders (38 percent) than of 7th-graders (27 percent), 8th-graders (26 percent), and 6th-graders (25 percent) who reported being bullied thought that those who bullied them had more money (Spotlight 2).

  • From 2000 to 2017, there were 37 active shooter incidents at elementary and secondary schools and 15 active shooter incidents at postsecondary institutions (Spotlight 3).

  • A single gun was used in the majority of active shooter incidents at education settings from 2000 to 2017, and two-thirds of guns used were handguns (Spotlight 3).

  • Each of the active shooter incidents at education settings from 2000 to 2017 involved a single shooter. All 37 active shooters at elementary and secondary schools were male. At postsecondary institutions, 13 of the active shooters were male, and the other 2 were female (Spotlight 3).

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Violent Deaths


  • A total of 38 student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths occurred between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016, which included 30 homicides, 7 suicides, and 1 legal intervention death6 (Indicator 1).

  • Between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016, a total of 18 of the 1,478 homicides of school-age youth (ages 5–18) occurred at school.7 During the same period, 3 of the 1,941 total suicides of school-age youth occurred at school (Indicator 1).

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Nonfatal Student and Teacher Victimization


  • In 2017, students ages 12–18 experienced 827,000 total victimizations (i.e., theft and nonfatal violent victimization) at school and 503,800 total victimizations away from school.8 These figures represent total victimization rates of 33 victimizations per 1,000 students at school, compared to 20 victimizations per 1,000 students away from school (Indicator 2).

  • From 1992 to 2017, the total victimization rate and rates of specific crimes—thefts, violent victimizations, and serious violent victimizations—declined for students ages 12–18, both at school and away from school (Indicator 2).

  • In 2017, about 2 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being victimized at school during the previous 6 months. One 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 2001 and 2017, the overall percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being victimized at school during the previous 6 months decreased (from 6 to 2 percent). During this period, the percentage of students who reported being victimized at school decreased for both male (from 6 to 3 percent) and female (from 5 to 2 percent) students, as well as for White (from 6 to 2 percent), Black (from 6 to 3 percent), and Hispanic (from 5 to 2 percent) students (Indicator 3).

  • The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property9 during the previous 12 months decreased from 9 percent in 2001 to 6 percent in 2017 (Indicator 4).

  • In each survey year from 2001 to 2017, 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 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,10 theft, or other crimes11 had taken place, amounting to 1.4 million crimes. During the same year, 47 percent of schools reported one or more crime incidents to the police, amounting to 449,000 crimes (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).

  • 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 (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 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; Indicator 8).

  • 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. Additionally, 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 (Indicator 8).

  • In 2017, about 6 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being called hate-related words at school during the school year, representing a decrease from 12 percent in 2001. This percentage also decreased between 2001 and 2017 for male and female students as well as for White, Black, and Hispanic students (Indicator 9).

  • In 2017, about 23 percent of students reported seeing hate-related graffiti at school during the school year, representing a decrease from 36 percent in 2001. This percentage also decreased between 2001 and 2017 for male and female students as well as for White, Black, and Hispanic students (Indicator 9).

  • In 2017, about 20 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year. A declining trend between 2005 and 2017 in the percentage of students who reported being bullied at school was observed for both bullying overall and for most of the student and school characteristics examined (Indicator 10).

  • In 2017, about 15 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported being electronically bullied during the previous 12 months. This percentage was higher for female students than for male students (20 vs. 10 percent; Indicator 10).

  • 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 11).

  • 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 11).

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Fights, Weapons, and Illegal Substances


  • The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been in a physical fight anywhere in the previous 12 months decreased between 2001 and 2017 (from 33 to 24 percent), as did the percentage of students in these grades who reported having been in a physical fight on school property (from 13 to 9 percent; Indicator 12).

  • A higher percentage of male than of female 9th- to 12th-graders reported having been in a physical fight anywhere (30 vs. 17 percent) and on school property (12 vs. 6 percent) during the previous 12 months in 2017 (Indicator 12).

  • In 2017, about 16 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported that they had carried a weapon anywhere at least 1 day during the previous 30 days, and 4 percent reported carrying a weapon on school property at least 1 day during the previous 30 days (Indicator 13).

  • Between 2007 and 2017, 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 school year decreased overall (from 7 to 3 percent), as well as for male (from 8 to 4 percent) and female (from 5 to 3 percent) students (Indicator 13).

  • The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported using alcohol on at least 1 day during the previous 30 days decreased from 47 to 30 percent between 2001 and 2017 (Indicator 14).

  • In 2017, a higher percentage of female than of male students reported using alcohol on at least 1 of the previous 30 days (32 vs. 28 percent). While the percentage of students who reported using alcohol decreased for both male and female students between 2001 and 2017, the decrease was larger for male students than for female students (Indicator 14).

  • In 2017, about 7 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported using marijuana 1 or 2 times during the previous 30 days, 9 percent reported using marijuana 3 to 39 times during the previous 30 days, and 4 percent reported using marijuana 40 or more times during the previous 30 days (Indicator 15).

  • The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property in the last 12 months decreased from 29 percent in 2001 to 20 percent in 2017 (Indicator 15).

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Fear and Avoidance


  • 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 (Indicator 16).

  • 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 students in urban areas (5 percent) than of students in suburban areas (4 percent) reported being afraid of attack or harm at school (Indicator 16).

  • In 2017, about 6 percent of students ages 12–18 reported avoiding school activities or classes or one or more places in school12 during the previous school year because they thought someone might attack or harm them. This percentage was higher than the percentage in 2015 (5 percent; Indicator 17).

  • In 2017, a higher percentage of students in urban areas than of students in rural areas reported avoiding one or more places in school (6 vs. 4 percent). In addition, a higher percentage of public school students than of private school students reported avoiding one or more places in school (5 vs. 3 percent; Indicator 17).

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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 18).

  • 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 18).

  • 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 19).

  • 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 19).

  • In 2017, about 99 percent of students ages 12–18 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 (95 percent), a requirement that visitors sign in and wear visitor badges or stickers (90 percent), and the presence of school staff (other than security guards or assigned police officers) or other adults supervising the hallway (88 percent; Indicator 20).

  • The percentage of students who reported observing the use of one or more security cameras to monitor the school increased between 2001 and 2017 (from 39 to 84 percent), as did the percentages of students who reported observing the use of locked entrance or exit doors during the day (from 49 to 79 percent) and who reported observing the presence of security guards or assigned police officers (from 64 to 71 percent; Indicator 20).

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Postsecondary Campus Safety and Security


  • In 2016, about 28,400 criminal incidents on campuses at postsecondary institutions were reported to police and security agencies, representing a 3 percent increase from 2015, when 27,600 criminal incidents were reported. The number of on-campus crimes reported per 10,000 full-time-equivalent students also increased, from 18.7 in 2015 to 19.2 in 2016 (Indicator 21).

  • The number of on-campus crimes reported in 2016 was lower than the number reported in 2001 for every category except forcible sex offenses and negligent manslaughter offenses.13 The number of reported forcible sex offenses on campus increased from 2,200 in 2001 to 8,900 in 2016 (a 305 percent increase; Indicator 21).

  • In 2016, out of the 1,070 total hate crimes reported on college campuses, the most common type of hate crime was destruction, damage, and vandalism (464 incidents), followed by intimidation (421 incidents) and simple assault (99 incidents). These were also the three most common types of hate crimes reported by institutions from 2010 to 2015 (Indicator 22).

  • Race, religion, and sexual orientation were the categories of motivating bias most frequently associated with hate crimes at postsecondary institutions in 2016 (Indicator 22).

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1 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.
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 in the school building, on school property, and on the way to or from school.
5 Only drug use not under a doctor’s orders is included.
6 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.
7 This 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 elementary 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.
8 “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.
9 “On school property” was not defined for survey respondents in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
10 “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.
11 “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.
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. “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. In the total for any avoidance, students who reported both avoiding one or more places in school and avoiding school activities or classes were counted only once.
13 The number of negligent manslaughter offenses was the same in 2001 and 2016 (2 incidents).