Despite the fact that the mainstream media have been ratcheting up calls for the need to increase safety at schools, American students report feeling safer today than they did in the mid-1990s, according to a recent Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report released March 29.
The 280-page study measured a variety of data that spanned surveys on school safety for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years. The study shows that crime and violence have decreased in primary and secondary schools around the United States, when compared to rates in the early and mid-1990s.
Students self-reported in the study they felt less afraid of attack or harm while at school, dropping from 12 percent in 1995 to 3 percent in 2015. The BJS began to track the question of gang presence at schools starting in 2001, and reports a 9 point drop in gang presence in schools, from 20 percent that first year in to 11 percent in 2015.
Part of the overall improvement can be attributed to an increased number of security officers at schools. More than half, 56.5 percent, had some security staff in 2015-16, up from 41.7 percent 10 years earlier. Also, many schools have a security camera network, though that wasn’t specifically part of the study, which can deter crime.
Among other statistics, the report revealed:
- A reported 24 in-school victimization incidents—including thefts, violent victimizations and serious violent victimizations—per 1,000 students in 2016, down significantly from almost 200 per 1,000 students in 1993.
- Drug-related problems are less prevalent, with 22 percent of students acknowledging that drugs were available on campus in 2015, down from a peak of 32 percent in 1995.
- Physical confrontations occur at a lower rate, with 8 percent of students being involved in fights in 2015, about half as many as reported in 1993.
- The number of violent deaths has remained fairly constant since 1993. From July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015, there were a reported 1,168 homicides involving victims between the ages of 5 and 18; only 1.7 percent of those took place at a school. The number of suicides for the same year and with the same age parameters was 1,785, with 0.5 percent of them occurring on a campus.