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Indicator 15: Safety at School
(Last Updated: August 2016)

In 2013, the percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months was higher for American Indian/Alaska Native (18 percent) and Hispanic students (8 percent) than for White (6 percent) and Asian students (5 percent).

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and the School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey collect information on students' safety at school by asking a series of questions on their experiences at school. Specifically, the 2013 YRBS asked students in grades 9–12 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 2013 SCS asked students ages 12–18 about the presence of gangs2 at their school,3 how often4 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 school5 because of fear of attack or harm during the school year.


Figure 15.1. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 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: 2013

Figure 15.1. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 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


! 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), 2013. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, tables 228.40 and 231.40.


In 2013, about 5 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported carrying a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club on school property during the previous 30 days, and a higher percentage of White students (6 percent) than of Black students (4 percent) reported doing so. In the same year, 7 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months. Higher percentages of American Indian/Alaska Native (18 percent) and Hispanic students (8 percent) than of White (6 percent) and Asian students (5 percent) reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months, and the percentage was higher for Black students (8 percent) than for White students.


Figure 15.2. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been in a physical fight on school property at least one time during the previous 12 months, by race/ethnicity: 2013

Figure 15.2. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been in a physical fight on school property at least one time during the previous 12 months, by race/ethnicity: 2013


! 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.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 2013. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 231.10.


In 2013, about 8 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported that they had been in a physical fight on school property during the previous 12 months. A higher percentage of Black students (13 percent) than of students of Two or more races (10 percent), Hispanic students (9 percent), Pacific Islander students (7 percent), White students (6 percent), and Asian students (5 percent) reported being in a physical fight on school property. In addition, the percentages reporting that they had been in a physical fight on school property during the previous 12 months were higher for students of Two or more races and Hispanic students than for White students and Asian students.


Figure 15.3. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property during the previous 12 months, by race/ethnicity: 2013

Figure 15.3. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property during the previous 12 months, by race/ethnicity: 2013


NOTE: "On school property" was not defined for respondents. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 2013. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 232.70.


Approximately 22 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported in 2013 that illegal drugs were offered, sold, or given to them on school property during the previous 12 months. Higher percentages of Hispanic students (27 percent) and students of Two or more races (26 percent) than of White students (20 percent) and Black students (19 percent) reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property. Also, a higher percentage of Pacific Islander students (28 percent) than of Black students reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property.


Figure 15.4. Percentage of students ages 12–18 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: 2013

Figure 15.4. Percentage of students ages 12–18 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: 2013


! 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. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. "Other" includes American Indians/Alaska Natives, Pacific Islanders, and persons of Two or more races. 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, 2013. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, tables 230.20, 230.70, and 230.80.


According to data collected in the 2013 SCS, about 12 percent of students ages 12–18 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 Hispanic (20 percent) and Black students (19 percent) than for Asian (9 percent) and White students (7 percent). About 3 percent of students ages 12–18 reported in 2013 that they had been afraid of attack or harm at school during the school year, with higher percentages of Black and Hispanic students (5 percent each) than of White students (3 percent) reporting this concern. In addition, approximately percent of students ages 12–18 reported in 2013 that they avoided one or more places in school because of fear of attack or harm during the school year, with a higher percentage of Hispanic students (5 percent) than of White students (3 percent) reporting doing so.


Figure 15.5. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported selected safety-related incidents at school, by sex: 2013

Figure 15.5. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported selected safety-related incidents at school, by sex: 2013


1 Respondents were asked about carrying "a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club" 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.
3 During the previous 12 months.
NOTE: "On school property" was not defined for respondents.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 2013. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, tables 228.40, 231.10, 231.40, and 232.70.


Students' reports of safety at school can also be analyzed separately for males and females. In 2013, higher percentages of male than female students in grades 9–12 reported carrying a weapon on school property during the previous 30 days (8 vs. 3 percent); being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months (8 vs. 6 percent); being in a physical fight on school property during the previous 12 months (11 vs. 6 percent); and being offered, sold, or given illegal drugs on school property during the previous 12 months (24 vs. 20 percent). However, there were no measurable differences between the percentages of male and female students ages 12–18 who reported a gang presence at their school, being afraid of attack or harm at school, or avoiding one or more places in school because of fear of attack or harm during the school year.

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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 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.
5 "Avoiding one or more places in school" includes student reports of five activities: avoiding the entrance, any hallways or stairs, parts of the cafeteria, restrooms, and other places inside the school building.