School Crime Rates Reduced by 42 Percent Since 1992

Published: November 20, 2005

WASHINGTON, Violent crime rates in the nation’s schools, unchanged between 2002 and 2003, remained at about half those recorded in 1992, according to a new report released Nov. 21 by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice.

The report, Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2005, said the rate of violent crime victims in schools declined from 48 per thousand students in 1992 to 28 per thousand in 2003. In 2003, students ages 12 to 18 were victims of about 740,000 violent crimes and 1.2 million crimes of theft at school, according to the report. Seven percent of students in that age range reported they had been bullied. Twenty-nine percent of high school students reported that drugs were made available to them on school property, and nine percent of students were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property.

Indicators is the eighth in a series of annual reports produced by the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, within the Institute of Education Sciences, and the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. Issued each fall, the reports present the most recent data available on school crime and student and staff safety.

The report indicates that students are twice as likely to be victims of serious violence away from school. In 2003, there were 12 such crimes per 1,000 students away from school and six crimes per 1,000 students at school. In the 2002-2003 school year, there were 15 student homicides and eight student suicides in the nation’s schools, figures that translate to less than one homicide or suicide per million students.

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According to some experts, the report may be flawed because it is based on limited academic surveys and research studies rather than actual crimes reported to law enforcement.

Other highlights of the joint report include:

  • The rate of in-school thefts declined from 95 per 1,000 students in 1992 to 45 per 1,000 in 2003. The rate of thefts away from school also declined, from 68 per 1,000 students in 1992 to 28 per 1,000 in 2003.
  • The proportion of students ages 12 to 18 who reported they skipped school or extracurricular activities or avoided specific places in school because they were fearful decreased from 7 percent in 1999 to 5 percent in 2003.
  • The proportion of students who reported that schools lock entrance or exit doors during the day out of concern for student safety increased from 38 percent to 53 percent between 1999 and 2003.
  • In 2003, 5 percent of students ages 12 to 18 reported being victimized at school during the previous six months: 4 percent reported theft, while 1 percent said they were victims of a violent crime.
  • In 2003, 21 percent of students between 12 and 18 reported that street gangs were present at their school during the previous six months.
  • In 2003, 33 percent of high school students reported having been in a fight anywhere, and 13 percent said they had been in a fight on school property during the preceding 12 months.
  • In 2003, students in urban schools were twice as likely as students in rural and suburban schools to fear being attacked at school or on the way to and from school.

The complete text of the report is available online at Copies can be ordered by calling 1-877-4ED-Pubs (TTY/TDD 1-877-576-7734), by E-mail at or online at

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