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Many School Safety Indicators Have Improved Over A Decade

Reported incidents related to several crime and safety issues have become less prevalent at elementary and secondary schools compared with a decade earlier.

Incidents of nonfatal student and teacher victimization, certain discipline problems, and reports of some unfavorable conditions at school have decreased over time, says a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics, American Institutes for Research and Bureau of Justice Statistics.

For students ages 12–18, the rate of nonfatal criminal victimization (including theft and violent victimization) at school in 2019 was not significantly different from the 2010 rate.

Lower percentages of public school teachers in 2020–21 than in 2011–12 reported being threatened with injury by a student (6 vs. 10 percent) and being physically attacked by a student from their school (4 vs. 6 percent).

Lower percentages of public schools in 2019–20 compared with a decade earlier reported that each of the following discipline problems occurred at least once a week: student bullying (15 vs. 23 percent), student sexual harassment of other students (2 vs. 3 percent), and student harassment of other students based on sexual orientation or gender identity (2 vs. 3 percent).

Lower percentages of students ages 12–18 in 2019 reported the following unfavorable conditions at their school compared with a decade earlier: gang presence (9 vs. 20 percent), being called hate-related words (7 vs. 9 percent), and seeing hate-related graffiti (23 vs. 29 percent).

Lower percentages of students in grades 9–12 in 2019 compared with 2009 reported the following issues: having been in a physical fight on school property in the previous 12 months (8 vs. 11 percent); carrying a weapon on school property during the previous 30 days (3 vs. 6 percent); and using alcohol on at least 1 day during the previous 30 days (29 vs. 42 percent).

Cyberbullying and some student discipline problems related to teachers and classrooms have become more common. Higher percentages of public schools in 2019–20 than a decade earlier reported the following problems at least once a week: student cyberbullying (16 vs. 8 percent); student verbal abuse of teachers (10 vs. 5 percent); student acts of disrespect for teachers other than verbal abuse (15 vs. 9 percent); and widespread disorder in the classroom (4 vs. 3 percent).

From 2000 to 2021, at elementary and secondary schools, there were 46 active shooter incidents, resuling in 276 casualties (108 killed and 168 wounded).

Between 2009–10 and 2019–20, the percentage of public schools reporting certain safety and security measures increased: controlling access to school buildings (from 92 to 97 percent), using security cameras (from 61 to 91 percent), and requiring faculty and staff to wear badges or picture IDs (from 63 to 77 percent).

Between 2009–10 and 2019–20, the percentage of public schools that reported having one or more security staff present at school at least once a week increased (from 43 to 65 percent).


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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