Concern over school crime and violence has prompted many public schools to take various measures to reduce and prevent violence and ensure safety in schools. Such measures include adopting zero tolerance policies; requiring students to wear uniforms; employing various security measures such as requiring visitor sign-in and using metal detectors; having police or other law enforcement representatives stationed at the school; and offering students various types of violence prevention programs. Presented in this appendix are data on the implementation of such safety measures in public schools. This report does not evaluate the effectiveness of any of these efforts or strategies, and the inclusion of a strategy does not suggest that it is endorsed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) or the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) as an effective means of reducing or preventing violence. Likewise, the omission of a possible strategy does not suggest it is rejected by NCES or BJS as a policy to reduce or prevent violence. This information, along with supporting tables, was drawn from a recent NCES report titled Violence and Discipline Problems in U.S. Public Schools: 1996-97 (NCES 98-030). The report was based on data from the 1996-97 Fast Response Survey System (FRSS) Principal/School Disciplinarian Survey on School Violence. Readers should consult that report for more detailed findings on variation by school characteristics.
Zero Tolerance Policies
- Most public schools reported having zero tolerance policies toward serious student offenses (table A1). A "zero tolerance policy" was defined as a school or district policy that mandates predetermined consequences or punishments for specific offenses. At least 9 out of 10 schools reported zero tolerance policies for firearms (94 percent) and weapons other than firearms (91 percent). Eighty-seven percent of schools had policies of zero tolerance for alcohol and 88 percent had zero tolerance policies for drugs. Most schools also had zero tolerance policies for violence and tobacco (79 percent each).
- Requiring students to wear school uniforms was not common. Three percent of all public schools required students to wear uniforms during the 1996-97 school year (table A2).
- Schools took a number of measures to secure their schools. For example, 96 percent of public schools reported that visitors were required to sign in before entering the school building (table A3); 80 percent of public schools reported having a closed campus policy that prohibited most students from leaving the campus for lunch; 53 percent of public schools controlled access to their school building; and 24 percent of public schools controlled access to their school grounds. In addition, 19 percent of public schools reported conducting drug sweeps, with middle schools and high schools being more likely to use drug sweeps than elementary schools (36 and 45 percent, respectively, versus 5 percent). While 4 percent of public schools reported that they performed random metal detector checks on students, daily use of metal detectors as a security measure was not common: only 1 percent of public schools reported taking this measure.
Presence of Police or Other Law Enforcement Representatives in Schools
- In addition to the security measures described above, 6 percent of public schools reported having police or other law enforcement representatives stationed 30 hours or more at the school in a typical week during the 1996-97 school year; 1 percent of schools had them stationed from 10 to 29 hours; and 3 percent had them stationed from 1 to 9 hours. Twelve percent of schools did not have police or other law enforcement representatives stationed during a typical week but made them available as needed, and 78 percent of schools did not have any such persons stationed at their schools (table A4).
Violence Prevention or Reduction Programs
- A majority of public schools (78 percent) reported having some type of formal school violence prevention or reduction program (table A5). The percentage of schools with both 1-day and ongoing programs (43 percent) was higher than schools with only ongoing programs (24 percent) and schools with only 1-day programs (11 percent).
Policies to Prevent Firearms in School
- In the 1996-97 school year, there were over 5,000 student expulsions for possession or use of a firearm (table A6). An additional 3,300 students were transferred to alternative schools for possession or use of a firearm, while 8,144 were placed in out-of-school suspensions lasting 5 or more days. About 5 percent of all public schools (or 4,170) took one or more of these firearm-related actions.