Skip Navigation

Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2002
Tom Snyder Hello, and welcome to today's StatChat on Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2002. I hope you've had the opportunity to examine the results on our website prior to this StatChat. I'm sure that you have many questions regarding this important release, so let's get right to them...

Tom from Jersey City, NJ asked:
Do we have any information on the use of Metal Detectors or drug sniffing dogs in the schools?
Tom Snyder: Hi Tom, this is an excellent "entrance" question for starting the web chat. Appendix A of the Indicators report provides information on school practices and policies related to school safety and discipline. Appendix table A3 of the report shows that 8 percent of schools perform random metal detector checks on students and 21 percent of schools perform one or more drug sweeps during the school year. Unfortunately, these data are a bit dated (from the 1996-1997 FRSS Survey of Principals located at: You will be glad to hear that NCES is currently in the process of putting together an updated version of these data from a 1999-2000 School Survey on Crime and Safety administered to school principals. For more information on this survey and to see the questionnaire, please visit:

Robert from Little Rock Arkansas asked:
I've read that exposure to violence increases anxiety. Is there any evidence that anxiety has a mediating effect on the exposure/victimization relation?
Tom Snyder: Robert, none of the data sets included in the 2002 Indicators of School Crime and Safety report ask about anxiety. The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System does include a measure that asks whether a student "felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for more than weeks in a row that they stopped doing some usual activities." Results from this question on the YRBSS can be found at

Michael from Topeka, KS asked:
Why were stats not released in regards to the number of homicides and suicides of students for the 1999-2000 & 2000-2001 school years?
Tom Snyder: Michael, The 1999 data that are in the report are the latest figures that have been released by the Centers for Disease Control.

Patrick from Tallahassee, FL asked:
How much of the increase in the incidence of bullying do you attribute to increased identification of what used to be called "teasing"?
Tom Snyder: The questions have been asked in a consistent manner, but it is often difficult to determine whether the perception of the words has changed. The question asked specifically about bullying, but did also ask respondents to include being "picked on a lot," or "forced to do things you don't want to do, like give them money". Hopefully, these examples helped people provide consistent answers.

Brenda from Crosby, Texas asked:
Is there legal support provided by the government for children that are targeted (particularly and unfairly) to be thwarted from receiving a public education?
Tom Snyder: The Unsafe School Choice Option (IX-E-2-9532) of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires each state that receives funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to establish and implement a statewide policy requiring that students who attend a persistently dangerous school or become victims of violent crimes on the grounds of a school they attend be allowed to attend a safe school within the same district. For more information on this provision, please see:

Steve Beleu from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma asked:
In reference to chapter 13, "Students' reports of avoiding places in school," do you have any information that would indicate that school libraries are "safe places" for students, places of refuge where students go to avoid these unsafe places at school?
Tom Snyder: Steve, the questions on avoiding places in school did not have a specific reference to libraries. While your assumption seems logical, we don't have information on the libraries.

Henry from New Bern NC asked:
What is the best source for statistics related to incidents in schools? I need this for my dissertation.
Tom Snyder: Henry, incidence based data in school can be found in the 1996-1997 FRSS Survey of Principals located at: Data from a 1999-2000 School Survey on Crime and Safety administered to school principals will be released this summer. For more information on this survey and to see the questionnaire, please visit:

Chris from Washington, DC asked:
What is the most frequent type of crime that occurs in schools?
Tom Snyder: The most frequent type of crime that occurs in schools is theft. In 2000, there were 1,246,600 incidences of theft at school. This translates into 40 thefts per 1,000 students.

Beverly from Azusa, CA asked:
Did you ask students where they felt safe, unsafe at school?
Tom Snyder: Beverly, we do have some information on this in the report. Indicators 12 & 13 provide information on student perceptions of personal safety and avoiding places. See: and

Robert Kelly from Edwardsville, Ill. asked:
Are the statistics broken down by states or localities or at least specific regions of the nation? And, if so, are there clear and separate crime trends in any of the states or regions? If there are such trends, how are they explained? Thank you.
Tom Snyder: The data we include in the Indicators report represent national statistics. It is not broken down by states or localities, but some of the original sources include these data. The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, does offer state-level breakdowns of risky school behaviors. You can find more information about the YRBSS at:

Robin F. Case from Dover, Delaware asked:
No child Left Behind Act of 2001, mandates States define & identify "Persistently Dangerous" Schools, provide a Safe Public School Choice Option to students attending unsafe public schools,& identify violent criminal offenses. Since your focus is the collection and analysis of national educational statistics, have you had any questions from States asking for guidance on the data collection process to assist with compliance of this Act?
Tom Snyder: Robin, We have not received questions yet from states asking for guidance on the data collection process. However, the Department of Education does provide guidance on defining crime or recording crime and disciplinary data at:

G. Martinez from Mission, TX. asked:
In the state of Texas, the majority of students committing a school offense are placed in in-school-suspension. Whereas the more violent are sent to a separate "remedial" setting; if they are not expelled. None-the-less, the policy of the Texas state's education agency is to prevent, at any cost, that any student drops out from school. This is one of the criteria with which schools are evaluated asides from the rate of students' success in a state mandated test. My question, after reviewing the data presented in the "Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2002", is a fact that I could not find in the report. With the philosophy that school authorities have towards the school offenders (and their parents), how many of these students return to a classroom and commit a transgression of a school policy? In other words, what is the rate of re-incident by all those youthful offenders?
Tom Snyder: This is a good question and, unfortunately, one we do not have the data to investigate. It would be a good question to consider as we develop future surveys of school administrators.

Ms. Gamboa from Long Beach, CA asked:
The Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2002, state that in 2000, students ages 12 through 18 were victims of about 1.9 million total crimes of violence or theft at school. Can you please let us know what areas this encompasses?
Tom Snyder: These data are nationally representative of all students in public and private schools, grades 6 through 12 that have been enrolled in school in the 6 months prior to the interview.

Beverly from Azusa, CA asked:
Do you include in your report information on how you gathered the data? Did you interview any students? Use any qualitative research methods?
Tom Snyder: Yes, there is a guide at the end of the report (Appendix B) that gives an overview of all the surveys used in the study. All of the data are based on statistical surveys and administrative record collections, and none of the indicators are based on qualitative research methods. Yes, many of the indicators are based on data gathered through student interviews.

Brenda from Crosby, Texas asked:
Are schools not as interested in educating some children because of over-crowding? Isn't there a law limiting class size per teacher ratio?
Tom Snyder: The Smaller Learning Communities (V-D-4) provision of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 allows for a competitive grant program to provide grants to school districts to create smaller learning communities in large high schools. According to the provision, several studies have concluded that students attending smaller high schools are more engaged and, consequently, experience higher levels of attendance, academic achievement, and involvement in extracurricular activities. Whether large high schools can be restructured to achieve the same results has been less frequently examined. This program supports local efforts to create smaller learning communities within large high schools. For more information see:

Susan from Williamsburg, KY asked:
I am a school counselor and we fulfill many registrar-type duties. I feel time spent in counseling students would serve a proactive role in helping students and preventing problems. Counselors make a difference in children's lives!
Tom Snyder: We agree, and so does the publication "Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools" which recommends getting school counselors involved in violence prevention as early as possible. This guide can be located at:

Kristina from Lewiston, Maine asked:
Are there any stats concerning crisis prevention training for teachers?
Tom Snyder: We have a limited amount of material on this topic. We have done some surveys of teacher perceptions of how training has improved their classroom management abilities. In 1998, 19 percent of full-time public school teachers reported that this training improved their teaching a lot, and 39 percent said the training resulted in a moderate improvement in their teaching. The 1999-2000 School Survey on Crime and Safety asks principals for the number of teachers in their school that have participated in violence prevention training. Look for these results in 2003.

Leonie from NYC, NY asked:
any correlates of school size or average class size linked to lower rates of school crime?
Tom Snyder: NCES is currently putting together a report on the 1999-2000 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS). This survey collects information on school crime and safety from school principals in U.S. elementary and secondary schools. School size and student to teacher ratio are both collected in this survey, along with different measures of school crime and disciplinary problems. Look for this report to be released in the summer of 2003. In the meantime, you can learn more about the survey at: Until the release of these data, you can refer to the National Institute of Education's (prior to being re-named NCES) 1976 Safe School Study, reanalyzed by Gottfredson and Gottfredson in the following book: Victimization in schools. (1985). New York: Plenum. Gottfredson, G. D. & Gottfredson, D. C. In sum, the NIE Safe School Study found that the probability of victimization is greater if the teacher has large classes of more than thirty students (NIE 1978).

Tom Burgin from Mooresboro, NC asked:
As a small school with less than 500 students, we are concerned about the 'offenses per 1000' students that would put a school into the 'dangerous' category!! Is one incident per 200 students a realistic measurement?? Also, will ALL offenses reported to the police fall into this category, or ONLY the 10 more violent offenses listed on the November 1 memo entitled 'Persistently Dangerous Schools Policy'??
Tom Snyder: Tom, this is a tough question. Certainly for small schools, any incidence of reported in relatively high ratios. A small school does not have the size to "average" the incidence of crimes.

Michael from Topeka, KS asked:
Any thoughts or possible reasoning behind the significantly large # (29.0 % - Table 5.1) of Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander vs. other race/ethnicities who report having been in a physical fight in the last 12 months?
Tom Snyder: While this percentage may seem large, the standard error associated with this figure is also large: 6.25; thus the confidence range of this is about 17 to 41. This rate is not significantly higher than some other groups. Unfortunately, the data on this group are not as precise as we would like.

Chris from Washington, DC asked:
Will charter schools be included and analyzed separately in future reports?
Tom Snyder: At this point, there are no plans to gather crime incidence data on charter schools. However, we already have charter school data on teacher and principal reports of disciplinary issues and victimization. There is time for one more question.

Jeff from DeLand, Florida asked:
Has any effort been done to relate school violence to social-economic background? Or, is there any sub-group that deserves more attention? Or, are we in any danger of profiling when trying to be proactive?
Tom Snyder: Jeff, we have some of this information in the report. Most of the student reported data contain information on student race/ethnicity. Also, we have household income in indicator 2 on student victimization: Also indicators 7 and 8 present school level crime incidence data, by free/reduced price lunch eligibility:

Great questions and many excellent observations. Unfortunately, I could not get to all of your questions, but please feel free to contact me, if you need further assistance. I hope that you found this session to be helpful and the report to be interesting.

Back to StatChat Home