Crime and Safety Surveys: School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS)



1. Overview

The School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS) collects extensive crime and safety data from principals and school administrators of public schools. The survey builds on an earlier survey on school crime and safety conducted in 1997 using the Fast Response Survey System (FRSS). SSOCS focuses on incidents of specific crimes and offenses and a variety of specific discipline issues in public schools. It also covers characteristics of school policies, school violence prevention programs and policies, and school characteristics that are associated with school crime. The survey is conducted with nationally representative samples of regular public primary, middle, high, and combined schools in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The sample does not include special education, alternative, virtual, or vocational schools; schools in the U.S. outlying areas and Puerto Rico; overseas Department of Defense schools; newly closed schools; home schools; Bureau of Indian Education schools; nonregular schools; ungraded schools; or schools with a highest grade of kindergarten or lower.

Purpose

The purposes of SSOCS are to collect detailed information on crime and safety from school administrators, and to provide estimates of school crime, discipline, disorder, programs, and policies. These national estimates assist the U.S. Department of Education in fulfilling goal 3.1 of its Strategic Goals and Objectives: to ensure that our nation's schools are safe and drug-free and students are free of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

Components

SSOCS consists of a single questionnaire that is completed by principals or the person most knowledgeable about crime and safety issues at the school. There are ten sections of the SSOCS questionnaire, with items pertaining to school practices and programs, parent and community involvement at school, school security, mental health services available to students, staff training, limitations on crime prevention, frequency of crime and violence at school, number of incidents, disciplinary problems and actions, and school characteristics.

While minor, non-substantive changes were made to the questionnaires between SSOCS:2000 and SSOCS:2010, the SSOCS:2016 questionnaire contained more substantive changes, such as the addition of the Mental Health Services section, which asks about particular mental health services being available to students at schools. Minor changes were made to the SSOCS:2018 questionnaire.

Periodicity

SSOCS is administered to public primary, middle, high, and combined school principals in the spring of even-numbered years. SSOCS is administered at the end of the school year to allow principals to report the most complete information possible. SSOCS was administered in the spring of the 1999–2000, 2003–04, 2005–06, 2007–08, 2009–10, 2015–16, 2017–18 and 2019–20 school years.

Data Availability

Public-use data for the SSOCS are available at https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/ssocs/data_products.asp. Information on how to obtain restricted-use SSOCS data can be found at https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/licenses.asp.