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Indicator 16: Safety at School
(Last Updated: February 2019)

In 2015, the percentage of students in grades 912 who reported they had been in a physical fight on school property during the previous 12 months was 6 percent for White students; this was lower than the percentages of Hispanic students and students of Two or more races (9 percent each) and Black and American Indian/Alaska Native students (13 percent each).

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and the School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey collect information on public and private school students’ safety at school by asking a series of questions on their experiences at school. Specifically, the 2015 YRBS asked students in grades 912 whether they had carried a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club on school property1 during the previous 30 days; whether they had been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months; and whether they had been in a physical fight on school property during the previous 12 months. Students were also asked whether someone had offered, sold, or given them an illegal drug on school property during the previous 12 months. The 2015 SCS asked students ages 1218 about the presence of gangs2 at their school,3 how often they had been afraid of attack or harm at school or on the way to and from school, and whether they had avoided one or more places in school4 because of fear of attack or harm during the school year.


Figure 16.1. Percentage of students in grades 912 who reported carrying a weapon on school property at least 1 day during the previous 30 days or being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months, by race/ethnicity: 2015

Figure 16.1. Percentage of students in grades 912 who reported carrying a weapon on school property at least 1 day during the previous 30 days or being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months, by race/ethnicity: 2015


! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
1 Respondents were asked about carrying “a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club” at least 1 day during the previous 30 days.
2 Respondents were asked about being threatened or injured “with a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club on school property” during the previous 12 months.
NOTE: “On school property” was not defined for respondents. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, tables 228.40 and 231.40.


In 2015, about 4 percent of students in grades 912 reported carrying a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club on school property during the previous 30 days. The percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native students who reported carrying such a weapon on school property (10 percent) was higher than the percentage of Hispanic (5 percent), White (4 percent), Black (3 percent), and Asian students (2 percent) who reported doing so. Additionally, the percentage of Pacific Islander students (15 percent) who reported carrying a weapon was higher than the percentage of Asian students (2 percent), although the percentage for Pacific Islander students was not measurably different from the percentages reported by students of the other racial/ethnic groups. In the same year, 6 percent of students in grades 912 reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months. Higher percentages of Pacific Islander (20 percent) and Black students (8 percent) than of White (5 percent) and Asian students (4 percent), as well as a higher percentage of Hispanic students (7 percent) than of White students, reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months.


Figure 16.2. Percentage of students in grades 912 who reported having been in a physical fight on school property at least one time during the previous 12 months, by race/ethnicity: 2015

Figure 16.2. Percentage of students in grades 912 who reported having been in a physical fight on school property at least one time during the previous 12 months, by race/ethnicity: 2015


! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
NOTE: “On school property” was not defined for respondents. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 231.10.


In 2015, about 8 percent of students in grades 912 reported that they had been in a physical fight on school property during the previous 12 months. A lower percentage of White students (6 percent) than of Hispanic students and students of Two or more races (9 percent each), Black and American Indian/Alaska Native students (13 percent each), and Pacific Islander students (21 percent) reported being in a physical fight on school property in the previous 12 months. In addition, the percentage reporting that they had been in a physical fight on school property in the previous 12 months was lower for Asian students (6 percent) than for Black students.


Figure 16.3. Percentage of students in grades 912 who reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property during the previous 12 months, by race/ethnicity: 2015

Figure 16.3. Percentage of students in grades 912 who reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property during the previous 12 months, by race/ethnicity: 2015


! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
NOTE: “On school property” was not defined for respondents. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 232.70.


Approximately 22 percent of students in grades 912 reported in 2015 that illegal drugs were offered, sold, or given to them on school property during the previous 12 months. A higher percentage of Hispanic students (27 percent) than of Black (21 percent), White (20 percent), and Asian (15 percent) students reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property. Also, a higher percentage of students of Two or more races (25 percent) than of Asian students reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property.


Figure 16.4. Percentage of students ages 1218 who reported gang presence at school, fear of attack or harm at school, or avoidance of one or more places in school because of fear of attack or harm during the school year, by race/ethnicity: 2015

Figure 16.4. Percentage of students ages 1218 who reported gang presence at school, fear of attack or harm at school, or avoidance of one or more places in school because of fear of attack or harm during the school year, by race/ethnicity: 2015


! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
1 All gangs, whether or not they are involved in violent or illegal activity, are included.
2 Students were asked if they “never,” “almost never,” “sometimes,” or “most of the time” feared that someone would attack or harm them at school. Students responding “sometimes” or “most of the time” were considered fearful.
3 Students were asked whether they avoided places because they thought that someone might attack or harm them.
NOTE: “At school” includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school. “Other” includes American Indians/Alaska Natives, Pacific Islanders, and persons of Two or more races. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, tables 230.20, 230.70, and 230.80.


According to data collected in the 2015 SCS, about 11 percent of students ages 1218 reported that gangs were present at their school during the school year. The percentages of students who reported the presence of gangs at their school were higher for Black students (17 percent) and Hispanic students (15 percent) than for White students (7 percent). About 3 percent of students ages 1218 reported in 2015 that they had been afraid of attack or harm at school during the school year, with a higher percentage of Hispanic students (5 percent) than of White students (3 percent) reporting this concern. In addition, approximately 4 percent of students ages 1218 reported in 2015 that they avoided one or more places in school because of fear of attack or harm during the school year, with no measurable differences in percentages between racial/ethnic groups.

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Endnotes

1 “On school property” was not defined for respondents.
2 All gangs, whether or not they are involved in violent or illegal activity, are included.
3 “At school” includes in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and going to and from school.
4 Places that students were asked about avoiding included the school entrance, hallways or stairs in school, parts of the school cafeteria or lunchroom, school restrooms, and other places inside the school building.