School Crime & Safety By the Numbers: The National Center for Education Statistics Releases Report

Given recent news cycles, it might be hard to believe that over the past 20 years, less than 3 percent of youth-oriented homicides actually occurred on school grounds. This is among the latest findings of the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which recently released its annual report, “Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2017.” The report can be downloaded here.

Germane to an understanding of the findings is the fact that the report is predicated on school violence and safety data culled from 2015. Since then, several shootings in schools and their surrounding communities, as well as other related violent incidents, have occurred.

The upshot is that crime and violence within academic settings brings a plethora of adverse potentialities for student victims — among them a spike in truancy and degraded performances academically. Moreover, school crime victims are more apt to drop out of school.

The entities behind the report include the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which is the primary federal entity deployed for collecting, analyzing and reporting education data regarding the United States. Likewise, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) is the nation’s one-stop-shop for collecting, analyzing, publishing, and disseminating statistical information about crime in the U.S. — including, its perpetrators and victims.

“While there are positive trends in the annual report on crime and school safety, we know — and tragically have been reminded in recent weeks — there is much more to be done to keep our nation’s students and teachers safe at school,” said Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a statement released by the U.S. Department of Education following publication of the report. “The Federal Commission on School Safety is committed to working quickly to identify and highlight best practices and solutions that state and local leaders can implement to improve school safety.”

Among the observations spotlighted in the report is the fact that between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015, a total of 47 student, staff and non-student school-associated violent deaths occurred. This number was comprised of 28 homicides, 17 suicides, and two legal intervention deaths, which are defined as a fatality that results from law enforcement during an arrest or otherwise legal suppression of a disturbance. Naturally, statistics from 2017 to 2018 will likely tell another story due to the sharp increase in school shootings and related events clustered at the beginning of the year. In a related finding, 92 percent of public schools have a school shooting plan in place, which is a 13 percent increase from stats taken during 2003 to 2004.

On a positive note, the increased emphasis on curbing school bullying may be realizing results with the percentage of public schools reporting student bullying (occurring at least once a week) had decreased from 29 percent in 1999 to 2000 to 12 percent in 2015 to 2016, according to the report. Moreover, occurrences of student verbal abuse of instructors at least once a week is trending down — from 13 percent in 1999 to 2000 to five percent in 2015 to 2016.

Another indicator of positive change is the percentage of students, ages 12 to 18, who reported being the target of hate-related words while on campus apparently decreased from 12 percent in 2001 to 7 percent in 2015.

Daedalus Howell

Daedalus Howell is the associate editor at Emlen Media. He can be reached directly at daedalus@emlenmedia.com. He writes books, makes movies, podcasts and blogs at DaedalusHowell.com/blog

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