Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Crime and Safety in America's School and Colleges

Crime in the nation’s schools and college campuses has declined over the past two decades, according to a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). However, the report also shows racial disparities in student discipline and a significant increase in the number of forcible sex crimes reported on college campuses.

The new report, Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2015, is the 18th in a series of annual publications produced jointly by NCES, in the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the U.S. Department of Justice.

The report presents statistics on crime and safety at schools and on college campuses, drawing upon an array of data collected from students, teachers, principals, and postsecondary institutions. It covers topics such as victimization, school conditions, discipline problems, disciplinary actions, safety and security measures at school, and criminal incidents at postsecondary institutions. This year’s report also includes topics related to student suspension and expulsion and juvenile offenders in residential placement.

In 2014, about 33 out of every 1,000 students (ages 12 to 18) reported being the victim of a non-fatal crime at school. This was down from 181 students out of 1,000 in 1992, a decline of 82 percent, according to the NCES/BJS report.

The report shows that African American and Hispanic students are suspended more often than their peers. In 2011-2012, 6.4 percent of all public school students received an out-of-school suspension. The rate for African American (15.4 percent) and Hispanic (5.9 percent) students was higher than it was for other racial or ethnic subgroups, such as White (4.3 percent) and Asian (1.5 percent) students.

The new report shows a drop in the number of criminal incidents at postsecondary institutions but reflects an increase in reported sexual assaults on college campuses. In 2013, there were 27,600 criminal incidents on campuses at postsecondary institutions that were reported to police and security agencies, representing a 34 percent decrease from incidents reported in 2001 (41,600 incidents). However, reported forcible sex crimes on college campuses nearly doubled between 2001 and 2013, from 2,200 to 5,000 incidents.

Other key findings include:

Discipline and Punishment

•    Among students who were ninth-graders in fall 2009, about 19 percent had been suspended or expelled by the spring of their 11th grade year. The percentage of these students who had been suspended or expelled was higher for those who did not complete high school than for those who did complete high school by 2013 (54 vs. 17 percent).

•    Between 1997 and 2013, the 1-day count of juvenile offenders in residential placement facilities fell by nearly 50 percent, from approximately 105,000 to 54,000. In 2013, the rate of residential placement for Black males was 1.6 times the rate for American Indian/Alaska Native males, 2.7 times the rate for Hispanic males, 5 times the rate for White males, and over 16 times the rate for Asian males.

School Safety

•    During the 2013–14 school year, 65 percent of public schools recorded one or more incidents of violence at their schools. About 58 percent of public schools recorded incidents of physical attack or fight without a weapon, 47 percent recorded incidents of threat of physical attack without a weapon, and 13 percent recorded serious violent incidents.

•    Between the 1999–2000 and 2013–14 school years, the percentage of public schools that reported student bullying occurred at school at least once a week decreased from 29 to 16 percent. The percentage of schools that reported student verbal abuse of teachers also decreased during this period, from 13 to 5 percent.

•    During the 2013–14 school year, 1.3 million discipline incidents were reported that resulted in removal of a student from a regular education program for at least an entire school day. About 78 percent of these incidents were violent, 15 percent were illicit drug related, 5 percent were weapons possessions, and 2 percent were alcohol related.

Safety Measures and Training

•    From 1999–2000 to 2013–14, the percentage of public schools reporting the use of security cameras increased from 19 percent to 75 percent; Similarly, the percentage of public schools reporting that they controlled access to school buildings increased from 75 percent to 93 percent during this time.

•    In the 2013–14 school year, about 88 percent of public schools reported they had a written plan for procedures to be performed in the event of a shooting, and 70 percent of those schools with a plan had drilled students on the use of the plan.

Postsecondary Institutions

•    The number of referrals per 10,000 students for illegal weapons possession increased between 2001 and 2006 (from 1.1 to 1.4) but decreased between 2006 and 2013 (from 1.4 to 1.0) on campuses at postsecondary institutions.

•    Of the 781 total hate crimes reported on college campuses in 2013, the most common type of hate crime was destruction, damage, and vandalism (364 incidents), followed by intimidation (295 incidents) and simple assault (89 incidents). The two most frequent categories of motivating bias associated with these crimes were race and sexual orientation.

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