DOJ Releases Updated K-12 School Crime Stats


The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Justice Programs Bureaus of Justice Statistics just released Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2009.

This annual report examines crime occurring in school as well as on the way to and from school. It also provides the most current detailed statistical information on the nature of crime in schools and school environments and responses to violence and crime at school.

Key findings include the following:

In the 2007-08 school year, an estimated 55.7 millionstudents were enrolled in prekindergarten throughgrade 12. Preliminary data show that among youth ages 5-18,there were 43 school-associated violent deaths fromJuly 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008. In2007, among students ages 12-18, there were about1.5 million victims of nonfatal crimes at school,including 826,800 thefts3 and 684,100 violentcrimes (simple assault and serious violent crime). During the 2007-08 school year, 85percent of public schools recorded that at least oneviolent crime, theft, or other crime occurred at theirschool. The following section presentskey findings from each section of the report.

Violent Deaths

  • From July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008, therewere 21 homicides and 5 suicides of school-ageyouth (ages 5-18) at school, or about1 homicide or suicide of a school-age youth atschool per 2.1 million students enrolled duringthe 2007-08 school year.

Nonfatal Student and Teacher

  • In 2007, students ages 12-18 were victims ofabout 1.5 million nonfatal crimes (theft3 plusviolent crime4) while they were at school,compared to about 1.1 million nonfatal crimeswhile they were away from school.
  • In 2007, the rates for theft and violent crimewere higher at school than away from school. Inthat year, students were victims of 31 thefts per1,000 students at school, compared to 21 theftsper 1,000 students away from school. At schoolthere were 26 violent crimes per 1,000 students,compared to 20 violent crimes per 1,000 studentsaway from school.
  • Although there was an overall decline in thevictimization rates for students ages 12-18 atschool between 1992 and 2007, there was nomeasurable difference in the rate of crime atschool between 2004 and 2007. Between 1992and 2007 the rate of crime for students away fromschool declined.
  • In 2007, 4 percent of students ages 12-18reported being victimized at school during theprevious 6 months: 3 percent reported theft,3and 2 percent reported violent victimization. Less than half of a percent ofstudents reported serious violent victimization.
  • In 2007, 10 percent of male students in grades9-12 reported being threatened or injuredwith a weapon on school property in the pastyear, compared to 5 percent of female students.
  •   Higher percentages of Black students (10 percent)and Hispanic students (9 percent) reportedbeing threatened or injured with a weapon onschool property than White students (7 percent)and American Indian/Alaska Native students(6 percent).
  • During the 2007-08 school year, a greaterpercentage of teachers in city schools (10percent) reported being threatened with injurythan teachers in town schools (7 percent) andsuburban or rural schools (6 percent each). A greater percentage of teachersin city schools (5 percent) and suburban schools(4 percent) reported being physically attacked,compared to teachers in rural schools (3 percent).
  • A greater percentage of secondary school teachers(8 percent) reported being threatened with injuryby a student than elementary school teachers(7 percent) However, a greater percentage of elementary school teachers (6percent) reported being physically attacked thansecondary school teachers (2 percent).

School Environment

  • During the 2007-08 school year, 85 percentof public schools recorded that one or moreincidents of crime had taken place at school,amounting to an estimated 2.0 million crimes. This figure translates to a rate of 43crimes per 1,000 public school students enrolledin 2007-08. During the same year, 62 percent ofpublic schools reported an incident of crime thatoccurred at school to the police, amounting toabout 704,000 crimes-or 15 crimes per 1,000public school students enrolled.
  • In 2007-08, 75 percent of public schools recordedone or more violent incidents of crime, 17 percentrecorded one or more serious violent incidents,47 percent recorded one or more thefts, and 67percent recorded one or more other incidents.Thirty-eight percent of public schools reportedat least one violent incident to police, 13 percentreported at least one serious violent incident topolice, 31 percent reported at least one theft topolice, and 49 percent reported one or more otherincidents to police.
  • During the 2007-08 school year, 25 percent ofpublic schools reported that bullying occurredamong students on a daily or weekly basis, and11 percent reported that student acts of disrespectfor teachers other than verbal abuse took placeon a daily or weekly basis. With regard to otherdiscipline problems reported as occurring at leastonce a week, 6 percent of public schools reportedstudent verbal abuse of teachers, 4 percentreported widespread disorder in the classroom,4 percent reported student racial/ethnic tensions,and 3 percent reported student sexual harassmentof other students.
  • Twenty percent of public schools reportedthat gang activities had happened at all during2007-08 and 3 percent reported that cult orextremist activities had happened at all duringthat school year.
  • In 2007, 23 percent of students ages 12-18reported that there were gangs at their schools. Overall, a smaller percentage ofWhite students (16 percent) and Asian students(17 percent) reported a gang presence at schoolthan Black students (38 percent) and Hispanicstudents (36 percent).
  • In 2007, 22 percent of all students in grades 9-12reported that someone had offered, sold, or giventhem an illegal drug on school property in thepast 12 months.
  • Ten percent of students ages 12-18 reportedthat someone at school had used hate-relatedwords against them, and more than one-third(35 percent) reported seeing hate-related graffitiat school in 2007.
  • In 2007, 32 percent of students ages 12-18reported having been bullied at school during theschool year. Twenty-one percent ofstudents said that they had experienced bullyingthat consisted of being made fun of; 18 percentreported being the subject of rumors; 11 percentsaid that they were pushed, shoved, tripped, orspit on; 6 percent said they were threatened withharm; 5 percent said they were excluded fromactivities on purpose; and 4 percent of studentssaid they were tried to make do things theydid not want to do or that their property wasdestroyed on purpose.
  • In 2007-08, 34 percent of teachers agreedor strongly agreed that student misbehaviorinterfered with their teaching, and 32 percentreported that student tardiness and class cuttinginterfered with their teaching.Seventy-two percent of teachers agreed orstrongly agreed that other teachers at their schoolenforced the school rules, and 89 percent reportedthat the principal enforced the school rules.
  • A higher percentage of secondary school teachersthan elementary school teachers reported thatstudent misbehavior (39 vs. 33 percent) andstudent tardiness and class cutting (45 vs.26 percent) interfered with their teaching in2007-08. During the same year,a lower percentage of secondary school teachersthan elementary school teachers agreed thatschool rules were enforced by teachers (56 vs.79 percent) and by the principal in their school(86 vs. 89 percent).

Fights, Weapons, and Illegal

  • In 2007, 36 percent of students in grades 9-12reported they had been in a fight anywhere,and 12 percent said they had been in a fighton school property during the preceding12 months. In the same year,44 percent of males said they had been in a fightanywhere, compared to 27 percent of females,and 16 percent of males said they had been in afight on school property, compared to 9 percentof females.
  • Eighteen percent
    of students in grades 9-12in 2007 reported they had carried a weapon8anywhere, and 6 percent reported they hadcarried a weapon on school property during theprevious 30 days. There were atleast three times as many males as females whoreported carrying a weapon-either anywhere oron school property-in all survey years. In 2007,for example, 9 percent of males carried a weaponon school property, compared to 3 percent offemales, and 29 percent of males carried a weaponanywhere, compared to 7 percent of females.

  • In 2007, 45 percent of students in grades 9-12reported having consumed at least one drink ofalcohol anywhere, and 4 percent reported havingconsumed at least one drink on school propertyduring the previous 30 days.
  • Twenty percent of students in grades 9-12 in2007 reported using marijuana anywhere duringthe past 30 days, and 4 percent reported usingmarijuana on school property during this period.

Fear and Avoidance

  • In 2007, approximately 5 percent of students ages12-18 reported that they were afraid of attack orharm at school, and 3 percent reported that theywere afraid of attack or harm away from school. In 2007, smaller percentages ofWhite students (4 percent) and Asian students(2 percent) reported being afraid of attack orharm at school than their Black (9 percent) andHispanic (7 percent) peers.
  • In 2007, 7 percent of students ages 12-18reported that they had avoided a school activityor one or more places in school in the previous6 months because of fear of attack or harm:3 percent of students avoided a school activity,and 6 percent avoided one or more places inschool.

Discipline, Safety, and Security

  • Forty-six percent of public schools (approximately38,500 schools) took at least one seriousdisciplinary action against a student during the2007-08 school year. Of the 767,900 seriousdisciplinary actions taken, 76 percent weresuspensions for 5 days or more, 19 percent weretransfers to specialized schools, and 5 percentwere removals with no services for the remainderof the school year).
  • Although the overall percentage of public schoolstaking a serious disciplinary action declinedbetween 1999-2000 (54 percent) and 2003-04(46 percent), there has been no measurablechange since then. This same general patternof decline between the period of 1999-2000and 2003-04 with no measurable change inmore recent survey years held both for thepercentage of public schools that reported takingserious disciplinary actions for the offense ofphysical attacks or fights and for the offense ofinsubordination.
  • Between the 1999-2000 and 2007-08 schoolyears, there was an increase in the percentage ofpublic schools reporting the use of the followingsafety and security measures: controlled accessto the building during school hours (from 75 to90 percent); controlled access to school groundsduring school hours (from 34 to 43 percent);students required to wear badges or picture IDs(from 4 to 8 percent); faculty required to wearbadges or picture IDs (from 25 to 58 percent); theuse of one or more security cameras to monitorschool (from 19 to 55 percent); the provision oftelephones in most classrooms (from 45 to 72percent); and the requirement that students wearuniforms (from 12 to 18 percent).
  • Between the 2003-04 and 2007-08 schoolyears, there was an increase in the percentageof public schools reporting the drug testing ofstudent athletes (from 4 to 6 percent), as well asan increase in the percentage of public schoolsreporting the drug testing of students in otherextracurricular activities (from 3 to 4 percent).
  • During the 2007-08 school year, 43 percentof public schools reported that they had anelectronic notification system for a school-wideemergency, and 31 percent of public schoolsreported that they had a structured, anonymousthreat reporting system.
  • The majority of students ages 12-18 reportedthat their school had a student code of conduct(96 percent) and a requirement that visitors signin (94 percent) in 2007. Metaldetectors were the least commonly observedsecurity measure. Ten percent of studentsreported the use of metal detectors at their school.

To review the full report, click here.

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