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Institute of Education Sciences

New Report on Crime and Safety in Schools and on College Campuses

Crime in our nation’s schools and college campuses has generally declined over the past two decades, according to Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2019, a recently released NCES report. This report highlights new analyses of mental health services provided by public schools and the prevalence of school and school neighborhood problems. The report also covers topics such as victimization, school conditions, safety and security measures at school, and criminal incidents at postsecondary institutions.

In 2018, students ages 12–18 experienced 836,100 total victimizations (i.e., thefts and nonfatal violent victimizations) at school and 410,200 total victimizations away from school. These figures represent a rate of 33 victimizations per 1,000 students at school and 16 victimizations per 1,000 students away from school. From 1992 to 2018, the total victimization rate and the rates of specific crimes—thefts and violent victimizations—declined for students ages 12–18, both at school and away from school.

This edition of Indicators of School Crime and Safety examines new data on school shootings. While such events represent a small subset of the violent incidents that occur at schools, they are of high concern to those interested in the safety of our nation’s students. In school year 2018–19, there were 66 reported school shootings with casualties at public and private elementary and secondary schools (29 school shootings with deaths and 37 school shootings with injuries only). Between 2000–01 and 2018–19, the number of school shootings with casualties per year ranged from 11 to 66.

Student bullying was the most commonly reported discipline problem among public schools over the past two decades. In school year 2017–18, about 14 percent of public schools reported that bullying occurred among students at least once a week, representing a decrease from the 29 percent of schools that reported student bullying in 1999–2000. In 2017–18, about 15 percent of public schools reported that cyberbullying had occurred among students at least once a week either at school or away from school.

This edition of the report also contains an analysis of new survey items that asked administrators at schools serving fifth-graders about issues in neighborhoods around their schools. In spring 2016, “crime in the neighborhood” and “selling or using drugs or excessive drinking in public” were the two most commonly reported school neighborhood problems. Thirty-four percent of fifth-graders attended schools where crime in the neighborhood was a problem, and 31 percent attended schools where selling or using drugs or excessive drinking in public was a problem. For the five school neighborhood problems examined in the report, fifth-graders attending schools where these were a big problem or somewhat of a problem consistently had lower scores in reading, mathematics, and science than did those attending schools where these were not a problem.



In addition to reporting data on student victimizations and school safety conditions, Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2019 also includes information on the programs and practices that schools had in place to promote a safe school. The new report includes a special analysis of mental health services provided by public schools. During the 2017–18 school year, 51 percent of public schools reported providing diagnostic mental health assessments to evaluate students for mental health disorders. Thirty-eight percent of public schools reported providing treatment to students for mental health disorders. When asked about whether certain factors limited their efforts to provide mental health services in a major way, 52 percent of public schools reported that inadequate funding was a major limitation, and 41 percent reported that inadequate access to licensed mental health professionals was a major limitation.



The report also looked at safety and security practices. In school year 2017–18, about 92 percent of public schools had a written plan in place for procedures to be performed in the event of an active shooter. Forty-six percent had a plan for procedures in the event of a pandemic disease. Between 2005–06 and 2017–18, the percentage of public schools that reported having one or more security staff present at school at least once a week increased from 42 to 61 percent.

Shedding light on postsecondary campus safety and security, the report shows that the number of reported forcible sex offenses on college campuses increased greatly while the overall number of reported criminal incidents at postsecondary institutions fell. Between 2001 and 2017, the number of reported forcible sex offenses on college campus increased 372 percent (from 2,200 to 10,400 offenses) while the overall number of criminal incidents reported on postsecondary campuses decreased by 31 percent (from 41,600 to 28,900 incidents). However, in the most recent data (between 2016 and 2017), the overall number of criminal incidents reported on postsecondary campuses increased by 2 percent. In 2017, a total of 958 hate crimes were reported on college campuses, of which the most common types were destruction, damage, and vandalism (437 incidents) and intimidation (385 incidents). Race, religion, and sexual orientation were the categories of motivating bias most frequently associated with these hate crimes.

To view the full Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2019 report, please visit https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2020063.

 

By Ke Wang, AIR

New Data Support Connection Between Hate-Related Words, Fear, Avoidance, and Absenteeism

Research shows that absenteeism is related to a number of negative outcomes for students, such as lower test scores and higher dropout rates, and often occurs when students feel unsafe, especially for those who experience hate-related harassment. Victims of prejudice or discrimination, including those who are called hate-related words, also experience poorer mental health and higher substance use compared with students who experience other types of harassment (Baams, Talamage, and Russell 2017).

The School Crime Supplement (SCS) defines hate-related words as insulting or bad names having to do with the victim’s race, religion, ethnic background or national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation. According to the 2017 SCS, 6 percent of students overall were called a hate-related word while at school. Of students who reported being called a hate-related word, a lower percentage of White students (26 percent) reported that the hate-related word was related to their race than did students who were Black (68 percent), Hispanic (52 percent), Asian (85 percent), and of All other races (64 percent). Additionally, female students were more likely than male students to be called a hate-related word related to their gender (23 vs. 7 percent).

In the 2017 SCS, students who were called a hate-related word felt more fear, practiced more avoidance behaviors, stayed home more from school due to fear, and generally skipped classes more than students who were not called a hate-related word. Specifically, of those students who were called a hate-related word at school,

  • 14 percent did not feel safe at school (compared with 2 percent of students who were not called a hate-related word);
  • 18 percent were afraid that someone would attack or harm them on school property (compared with 3 percent of students who were not called a hate-related word);
  • 27 percent avoided some location, class, or activity at school (compared with 5 percent of students who were not called a hate-related word);
  • 8 percent stayed home from school due to fear that someone would attack or harm them (compared with 1 percent of students who were not called a hate-related word); and
  • 11 percent had skipped class sometime in the previous 4 weeks (compared with 5 percent of students who were not called a hate-related word).
     

Figure 1. Percentage of students ages 12 through 18 who reported being called a hate-related word at school, by student reports of fears and avoidance behaviors: School year 2016–17

1 Those who responded “disagree” or “strongly disagree” to the following question: “Thinking about your school, would you strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree with the following? You feel safe in your school.”

2 Those who responded “sometimes” or “most of the time” to the following question: “How often are you afraid that someone will attack or harm you in the school building or on school property?”

3 Those who responded “yes” to one of the following questions: “During this school year, did you ever stay away from any of the following places: shortest route to school; the entrance into the school; any hallways or stairs in school; parts of the school cafeteria or lunchroom; any school restrooms; other places inside the school building; school parking lot; other places on school grounds; school bus or bus stop?”; “Did you avoid any activities at your school because you thought someone might attack or harm you?”; or “Did you avoid any classes because you thought someone might attack or harm you?”

4 Those who responded “yes” to the following question: “Did you stay home from school because you thought someone might attack or harm you in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, or going to or from school?”

NOTE: Figure data include only students who reported being enrolled in grades 6 through 12 and who did not receive any of their education through homeschooling during the school year reported. Students responded to the following question: “During this school year, has anyone called you an insulting or bad name at school having to do with your race, religion, ethnic background or national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation? We call these hate-related words.” Population size based on the 2017 SCS for all students meeting the age, grade, and school criteria is 25,023,000.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2017. See Table 16 in the crime table library.


 

You can find more information on student-reported experiences related to school crime and safety in NCES publications, including Student Reports of Bullying: Results From the 2017 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey and the 2018 Indicators of School Crime and Safety.

 

By Christina Yanez and Rebecca Mann, Synergy Enterprises, Inc., and Rachel Hansen, NCES

 

Reference

Baams, L., Talmage, C., and Russell, S. (2017). Economic Costs of Bias-Based Bullying. School Psychology Quarterly, 32(3): 422–433.

New Data Available on Crime and Safety in Public Schools

The prevalence of crime in America’s public schools continues to be a topic of much concern and discussion among parents, students, educators, and policymakers. A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides the latest data to help inform conversations and debate about school safety.

The report, Crime, Violence, Discipline, and Safety in U.S. Public Schools, presents new information from the 2017–18 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS). SSOCS is a nationally representative survey of school principals that collects detailed information on both incidents of crime in U.S. public schools and the practices and programs schools have implemented to promote school safety.

This report presents selected findings on a wide range of topics, including violent and nonviolent incidents, disciplinary problems and actions, security measures, security staff, mental health services, and limitations on crime prevention. In addition to presenting updates for data that have been published in prior SSOCS reports, the new report highlights topics not covered in previous reports, including the number of incidents involving the use or possession of a firearm or explosive device at school as well as the percentage of schools that have “panic buttons” or silent alarms that directly connect to law enforcement in the event of an incident.

Data on both school crime incidents and school safety practices are available by various school characteristics, such as school type, enrollment size, and locale (i.e., whether the school is located in an urban, suburban, or rural area).  

One key finding highlighted in the report is that most schools have written plans for various emergency scenarios. In school year 2017–18, the most common types of plans reported were for responses to natural disasters (94 percent), active shooters (92 percent), and bomb threats or incidents (91 percent).

 



 

The report also presented other key findings from the 2017–18 school year:

  • Seventy-one percent of U.S. public schools reported that at least one violent incident occurred at school during the school year.
  • Three percent of schools reported that there was at least one incident involving the possession of a firearm or explosive device at their school.
  • Forty-six percent of traditional public schools had a school resource officer present at school at least once a week, compared with only 19 percent of charter schools. Conversely, a higher percentage of charter schools than of traditional public schools had a security guard or other security personnel present at least once a week (35 vs. 21 percent).
  • Restorative circles were used more frequently in schools with a higher enrollment of minority students. A restorative circle is a formal mediation process led by a facilitator who brings affected parties of a problem together to explore what happened, reflect on their roles, and find solutions that address individual and community concerns. Among schools with at least 50 percent minority enrollment, half (50 percent) reported involving students in restorative circles. However, in schools with lower minority enrollment (20 to 50 percent), a lower percentage of schools reported involving students in restorative circles (38 percent).
  • Fifty-one percent of schools provided diagnostic mental health assessments to evaluate students for mental health disorders, and 38 percent provided treatment to students for mental health disorders.

To access the full report, please visit https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2019/2019061.pdf. SSOCS:2018 data files will be released later this year. Due to the sensitive nature of SSOCS data, researchers must apply for a restricted-use license to access the full SSOCS:2018 restricted-use data file. A public-use data file—with some sensitive variables removed—will be released after the restricted-use data file.

 

By Sam Correa and Melissa Diliberti (AIR) and Rachel Hansen (NCES)

 

 

New Data Show Growth in Online Bullying

A vast majority of middle and high school students have an online presence, resulting in heightened awareness and concern about cyberbullying. A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) shows that reports of students being bullied online or by text are growing.

According to results from Student Reports of Bullying: Results From the 2017 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 20 percent of students reported being bullied during the 201617 school year. Of those students, 15 percent reported being bullied online or by text, which is an increase from 11.5 percent during the 201415 school year.

During the 201617 school year, students’ reports of bullying online or by text were found to differ by sex, race, and school level. For instance, three times as many female students reported being bullied online or by text (21 percent) as male students (7 percent), and about 17 percent of White students reported being bullied online or by text, compared with 12 percent of students of other races. Also, a higher percentage of high school students reported being bullied online or by text (19 percent) than middle school students (12 percent).

In the 2017 School Crime Supplement (SCS), students reported being bullied online or by text in higher percentages than did students being bullied only in person in three key types of bullying.

  • Students who reported being bullied online said they were made fun of, called names, or insulted more often (74 percent) than students who reported being bullied in person only (63 percent).
  • 90 percent of students bullied online reported that rumors were spread about them, compared to 62 percent of those who reported being bullied in person only.  
  • 39 percent of students being bullied online reported that they were excluded from activities on purpose, compared to 23 percent of students who reported being bullied in person only.

 



 

Browse the full report for more bullying estimates from the 2016–17 school year.

 

By Rachel Hansen

 

References

Lessne, D., and Yanez, C. (2016). Student Reports of Bullying: Results From the 2015 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime and Victimization Survey (NCES 2017-015). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved March 28, 2019, from https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2017/2017015.pdf.

Yanez, C., and Seldin, M. (2019). Student Reports of Bullying: Results From the 2017 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime and Victimization Survey (NCES 2019-054). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Forthcoming.

New Report on Crime and Safety in Schools and College Campuses

Crime in the nation’s schools and college campuses has declined overall during the past two decades, according to a report released on April 17, 2019. Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2018 highlights new information on a wide array of data points, including youth opioid use, perceptions of bullying, and active shooter incidents in educational settings. The report also covers topics such as victimization, school conditions, school environment, safety and security measures at school, and criminal incidents at postsecondary institutions.

In 2017, students ages 12–18 experienced 827,000 total victimizations (i.e., theft and nonfatal violent victimization) at school and 503,800 total victimizations away from school. These figures represent a rate of 33 victimizations per 1,000 students at school, compared to 20 victimizations per 1,000 students away from school. From 1992 to 2017, the total victimization rate and rates of specific crimes—thefts, violent victimizations, and serious violent victimizations—declined for students ages 12–18, both at school and away from school.

This edition of Indicators of School Crime and Safety includes an analysis of active shooter incidents, which represent a small subset of the possible violent incidents that occur at schools. While rare, these events are of high concern to all those interested in the safety of our nation’s students. From 2000 to 2017, there were 37 active shooter incidents at elementary and secondary schools and 15 active shooter incidents at postsecondary institutions. During this period, there were 153 casualties (67 killed and 86 wounded) in active shooter incidents at elementary and secondary schools, and 143 casualties (70 killed and 73 wounded) in active shooter incidents at postsecondary institutions.

Between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016, the most recent period available, there were 18 homicides of school-age youth (ages 5–18) at a school out of the 1,478 homicides of school-age youth in the United States. During the same period, 3 of the 1,941 total suicides of school-age youth occurred at school.

In 2017, about 20 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year. Between 2005 and 2017, the percentage of students who reported being bullied at school declined overall and for most of the student and school characteristics examined.

 



 

Of the students who were bullied in 2017, about 56 percent felt that those who had bullied them had the ability to influence what other students thought of them. A higher percentage of female students (62 percent) than male students (48 percent) reported that those who bullied them had the ability to influence what other students thought of them.

 



 

The new report included a special analysis that shows that the percentage of 8th-graders who reported using heroin during the past 12 months decreased from 1.4 percent in 1995 to 0.3 percent in 2017. The percentage also decreased from 1.1 to 0.2 percent for 10th-graders and from 1.1 to 0.4 percent for 12th-graders during the same period. This 0.4 percent of 12th graders reflects 15,900 students, who were recent users of heroin. The use of OxyContin and Vicodin during the past 12 months also generally decreased for 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders between 2005 (the first year of data collection for these survey items) and 2017.

 



 

There were also decreases for other types of substance abuse. The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported using alcohol at least once during the previous 30 days decreased from 47 to 30 percent between 2001 and 2017. Also, the percentage of students in grades 9–12 reporting marijuana use at least 1 time during the previous 30 days in 2017 (20 percent) was lower than the percentage for 2001 (24 percent).

Other findings – elementary and secondary schools

  • About 99 percent of students ages 12–18 reported that they observed the use of at least one of the selected safety and security measures at their schools in 2017. The three most commonly observed safety and security measures were a written code of student conduct (95 percent), a requirement that visitors sign in and wear visitor badges or stickers (90 percent), and the presence of school staff (other than security guards or assigned police officers) or other adults supervising the hallway (88 percent).
  • About 6 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being called hate-related words at school during the school year in 2017, representing a decrease from 12 percent in 2001. This percentage also decreased between 2001 and 2017 for male and female students as well as for White, Black, and Hispanic students.
  • The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been in a physical fight anywhere in the previous 12 months decreased between 2001 and 2017 (from 33 to 24 percent), as did the percentage of students in these grades who reported having been in a physical fight on school property (from 13 to 9 percent).

 



 

Other findings – postsecondary Institutions

  • The number of on-campus crimes reported in 2016 was lower than the number reported in 2001 for every category except forcible sex offenses and negligent manslaughter offenses. The number of reported forcible sex crimes on campus increased from 2,200 in 2001 to 8,900 in 2016 (a 305 percent increase).
  • Race, religion, and sexual orientation were the categories of motivating bias most frequently associated with the 1,070 hate crimes reported on college campuses in 2016.

To view the full report, please visit https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2019047.