In The Know Zone

school violence basics

School Violence Overview

By virtually every measure, students in U.S. junior and senior high schools are at a lower risk of in-school victimization than they were ten years ago.  Yet their perceptions say otherwise.

The statistics [1] show thefts and acts of violence declining in almost every category:

  • Non-fatal victimization has been cut in half—from 144 students per 100,000 to 72
  • The number of 9th through 12th graders who reported carrying a gun on school property dropped from 12 percent to 6 percent
  • Students reporting having engaged in a fight on school property, down 25 percent
  • Students who were victims of theft declined from seven percent to four percent
  • Students who reported avoiding one or more places in or around their schools because of the risk of violence fell from seven percent to four percent

The picture was not altogether rosy:

  • The number of school-related violent deaths—homicides, suicides and accidents—ranged from the low 30s to the high 40s nationwide—less than one student per million in the worst year. [2]
  • Nearly 2 million students were victims of violence or thefts—thefts, for the most part—each year
  • There are 128,000 violent crimes--rapes, robberies and violent assaults—in schools each year
  • The percentage of students threatened or injured with weapons hovered around the 10 percent mark throughout the decade, trending slightly upward since 1995
  • Perhaps most significantly, the percentage of students who reported being bullied at school increased from five percent to eight percent—a 62.5 percent increase—between 1999 and 2001.

While the level of overt violence was declining, student perception of school safety was deteriorating.  In the two most recent national surveys, [3] students reported feeling more at risk at school than away from school, and the percentage of students who reported that they had skipped school at least once in the previous month because they were concerned for their safety increased 19 percent between 1993 and 2003. [4]

[1] Unless otherwise noted, the statistics quoted are from DeVoe, J; Peter, K; Kaufman, P; et. al , Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2003,  National Center for Education Statistics, NCES Publication #2004004, 2004, available at; accessed 22 July 2004

[2] Predicated on year 2003 enrollments of more than 48 million students in junior and senior high schools nationwide

[3] Years 1999 and 2001, reported in Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2003, Sect. 12, pp. 36-37

[4] Grunbaum, J; Kann, L;  Kinchen, S; et. al., Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2003. In: Surveillance Summaries, May 21, 2004, MMWR, 2004:53(No.SS-2) p. 7, and accompanying table.


In The Know: At Risk Pamphlet/ DVD Package
In The Know: At Risk DVD Package