Entries

Growing Up: Issues Affecting America's Youth Growing Up: Issues Affecting America's Youth Further reading

NON JS

Crime and Violence in the Schools

Chapter 9: Crime and Violence in the Schools

VIOLENT DEATHS AT SCHOOL
SECURITY AND DISCIPLINE
NONFATAL CRIMES
HAZING
AVOIDANCE AND FEAR
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT: PERSISTENTLY DANGEROUS SCHOOLS

School is supposed to be a safe haven where young people can go to learn the basics of mathematics, literature, science, and other subjects, without fearing for their safety, feeling intimidated, or being harassed. Even though school administrators and teachers work toward making the environment safe and secure, crime and violence do find their way into the hallways and classrooms and onto the school grounds. Despite media emphasis on topics such as school shootings, fatal violence at schools is relatively low. Non-fatal crime, however, occurs in far greater numbers, sometimes even more frequently at school than away from school.

Safety is and will continue to be a concern at schools. A rash of school shootings and bomb threats that occurred in the 1990s, and that continue to occur, brought increasing attention to school safety issues and what must be done to protect students; two particularly troubling incidences are the shootings at Colorado's Columbine High School in 1999 and the more recent tragedy at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the spring of 2007, in which a student killed 32 people and then himself. Various studies about school violence and crime were issued in the late 1990s and in the first decade of the twenty-first century as researchers examined past trends and tried to predict patterns for the future. Surveys range from how many children bring weapons to school to how many children are injured in fights, are afraid to go to school, or are subjected to disciplinary actions. Educators, school administrators, parents, and students themselves remain vigilant in striving to make schools safe places where youth are able to learn and prepare for the future.

How much crime and violence exist at schools in the twenty-first century? Has it increased or decreased in recent years? What effect did the Columbine High School shootings have on students and public opinion in general? Is there a danger that students, educators, and school officials will underreport school crime and violence to police?

VIOLENT DEATHS AT SCHOOL

During the 200506 school year, there were 35 school-associated violent deaths in elementary and secondary schools, including 14 homicides and three suicides. (See Table 9.1.) This number was down from the previous school year, when 50 violent deaths occurred21 homicides and seven suicides. The most school-associated deaths (including staff, students, and nonstudents) in any year of the study was 57, which occurred during both the 199293 and 199798 school years.

Rachel Dinkes et al. state in Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2007 (December 2007, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/iscs07.pdf) that between July 1, 1992, and June 30, 2006, 617 school-associated violent deaths occurred across the United States, including 330 homicides of school-age children. Despite the understandable fear generated by the media coverage of events, the possibility of being shot at school is very minimal. Dinkes et al. note, In each school year, youth were over 50 times more likely to be murdered and were over 150 times more likely to commit suicide when they were away from school than at school. However, Americans were shocked by the rash of school shootings in the 1990s and some were afraid to send their children to school. The shootings at Columbine High School, in particular, weighed heavily on many students' and parents' minds.

Columbine High School

The tragedy began around 11:10 a.m. on April 20, 1999, as senior Eric Harris (19811999) arrived at the student parking lot at Columbine High School in Littleton, a suburb of Denver, in Colorado. A short time later, Harris's friend and classmate Dylan Klebold (19821999) arrived. Carrying two large duffel bags, they walked together to the school cafeteria. Each of the bags contained a 20-pound (9.1-kg) propane bomb, which was set to detonate at exactly 11:17 a.m. Harris and Klebold looked for an inconspicuous

 
TABLE 9.1 Number of school-associated violent deaths by location, 19922006
    Homicides of youth ages 518 Suicides of youth ages 518
Year Total student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deathsa Homicides at schoolb Total homicidesc Suicides at schoolb Total suicidesd
Not available.
aSchool-associated violent deaths include a homicide, suicide, legal intervention (involving a law enforcement officer), or unintentional firearm-related death in which the fatal injury occurred on the campus of a functioning elementary or secondary school in the United States, while the victim was on the way to or from regular sessions at school or while the victim was attending or traveling to or from an official school-sponsored event. Victims include students, staff members, and others who are not students, from July 1, 1992, through June 30, 2006.
bYouth ages 518 from July 1, 1992, through June 30, 2006.
cYouth ages 518 from July 1, 1992, through June 30, 2005.
dYouth ages 518 in the calendar year from 1992 to 2004.
eData are preliminary and subject to change.
SOURCE: Rachel Dinkes, Emily Forrest Cataldi, and Wendy Lin-Kelly, Table 1.1. Number of School-Associated Violent Deaths, Homicides, and Suicides of Youth Ages 518, by Location and Year: 19922006, in Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2007, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, and U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2007, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/iscs07.pdf (accessed November 12, 2008)
199293 57 34 2,689 6 1,680
199394 48 29 2,879 7 1,723
199495 48 28 2,654 7 1,767
199596 53 32 2,512 6 1,725
199697 48 28 2,189 1 1,633
199798 57 34 2,056 6 1,626
199899 47 33 1,762 4 1,597
19992000 36 13 1,537 8 1,415
200001 30 11 1,466 4 1,493
200102 37 14 1,468 6 1,400
200203 35 18 1,515 8 1,331
200304 36 21 1,437 3 1,285
200405 50 21 1,534 7 1,471
200506e 35 14 3

place to leave their bomb-concealing bags among the hundreds of other backpacks and bags there. After choosing a spot, Harris and Klebold returned to the parking lot to wait for the bombs to detonate.

Part of their plan was aimed at diverting the Littleton Fire Department, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, and other emergency personnel away from the high school as the pair stormed the school. To achieve this, they had planted pipe bombs 3 miles (4.8 km) southwest of the high school set to explode and start grass fires. As the explosions began, Harris and Klebold prepared to reenter the school, this time via the west exterior steps. That location is the highest point on campus and allows a view of the student parking lots and the cafeteria's entrances and exits. Both Harris and Klebold, dressed in black trench coats, concealed 9mm semiautomatic weapons from view. As they approached, the pair pulled out shotguns from a duffel bag and opened fire toward the west doors of the school, killing 17-year-old Rachel Scott.

After entering the school, they roamed the halls, library, and cafeteria, among other areas, killing 12 other victims, including a teacher, before finally killing themselves. In the process they also injured 23 other students physically and many others emotionally. The details of the event are outlined in The Columbine High School Shootings: Jefferson County Sheriff Department's Investigation Report (May 15, 2000) by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. Since that time, more documents and videotapes have been made available to the victims' families, the media, and others as well.

Investigations after the Columbine shootings focused on incidents in the boys' past that might have indicated the potential for such violent behavior. Among the people most surprised by the shootings were Klebold's family. Tom Klebold, Dylan's father, told investigators that his son had never showed any interest in guns. The Klebolds told authorities that Dylan had been accepted at the University of Arizona and had planned to study computer science. Klebold's friends and teachers described him as a nice, normal teenager. However, authorities also learned that Klebold and Harris were often subjected to harassment and bullying from other students. Much discussion of this fact was reported by the media, which prompted various research organizations to look into the effects of bullying on juveniles. Some wondered if the ridicule from other students had prompted Harris and Klebold to seek revenge.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation Examines School Shooters

Previous school shooting incidents had prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to spend two years researching this phenomenon. In The School Shooter: A Threat Assessment Perspective (1999, http://www.fbi.gov/publications/school/school2.pdf), Mary Ellen O'Toole of the FBI asserts that the profile of a school shooter cannot be determined, nor is it possible to create a checklist of the warning signs indicating the next juvenile who will bring lethal violence to school. O'Toole's intent, however, is to assist school personnel and others in assessing threats and to keep any planned violence from occurring.

O'Toole uses a four-pronged approach in assessing the totality of the circumstances known about a student in four major areas: the student's personality, family dynamics, school dynamics, and social dynamics. O'Toole states, If an act of violence occurs at a school, the school becomes the scene of the crime. As in any violent crime, it is necessary to understand what it is about the school which might have influenced the student's decision to offend there rather than someplace else.

According to O'Toole, the FBI has established the following factors in making this determination:

  • The student's attachment to schoolthe student appears to be detached from school, including other students, teachers, and school activities.
  • Tolerance for disrespectful behaviorthe school does little to prevent or punish disrespectful behavior between individual students or groups of students.
  • Inequitable disciplinediscipline is inequitably applied (or has the perception of being inequitably applied) by students and/or staff.
  • Inflexible culturethe school's culture is static, unyielding, and insensitive to changes in society and the changing needs of newer students and staff.
  • Pecking order among studentscertain groups of students are officially or unofficially given more prestige and respect than others.
  • Code of silencefew students feel they can safely tell teachers or administrators if they are concerned about another student's behavior or attitudes. Little trust exists between students and staff.
  • Unsupervised computer accessaccess to computers and the Internet is unsupervised and unmonitored. Students are able to use the school's computers to play violent computer games or to explore inappropriate Web sites, such as those that promote violent hate groups or give instructions for making a bomb.

Despite the factors that might indicate a school will be more likely to be the site of a deadly incident, O'Toole reemphasizes in School Shootings: What You Should Know (October 6, 2006, http://www.fbi.gov/page2/oct2006/schoolshootings100606.htm) that there might be nothing that can be done to prevent a violent incident from occurring. However, she states that school personnel should be vigilant by paying attention to students' moods and behaviors and taking all threats seriously.

SECURITY AND DISCIPLINE

After Columbine, as students, teachers, and parents became more worried about school safety, U.S. schools began implementing security measures to try to prevent future violent incidents. According to Dinkes et al., during the 200506 school year, 85% of public schools locked some doors and monitored unlocked doors during school hours, 48% required faculty and staff to wear identification, 41% used locked or monitored gates to control school access, 5% used random metal detector checks, and 1% used daily metal detector checks. Nearly all schools (93%) required visitors to sign in.

Security measures differed by school level. Dinkes et al. state that during the 200506 school year, buildings or grounds were more likely to be monitored in primary schools than in middle or high schools. Elementary school students were more likely to be required to wear uniforms than older students. Drug tests, security cameras, random sweeps for contraband, and drug-sniffing dogs were much more likely to be used in high schools than in earlier grades. Critics of increased surveillance in schools contend that bullying, stalking, and harassment present the real risk to students and believe that stronger counseling and early intervention programs are urgently needed.

In fact, efforts to decrease violence in schools have had mixed results. Dinkes et al. find that victimizations declined from 9.5% to 4.2% between 1995 and 2005. However, there was no measurable change in the decline of violent and serious violent victimizations during this period. Violent crimes include rape and attempted rape, sexual assault, physical attack or threat of physical attack with or without a weapon, and robbery. Serious violent crimes are limited to rape and attempted rape, sexual assault, physical attack with a weapon or threat of attack with a weapon, and robbery. In 200506, 77.7% of schools experienced at least one violent crime during the year, and 17.1% experienced a serious violent crime.

Disciplinary Problems and Actions

Schools contend with a wide range of disciplinary problems that can affect the safety and positive educational experience of students and staff alike. These include bullying, gang activities, verbal abuse of teachers, disrespectful acts against teachers, widespread disorder in the classroom, cult or extremist group activities, and racial tension. According to Dinkes et al., during the 200506 school year, 24% of public schools experienced problems with student bullying. (See Figure 9.1.) A slightly higher proportion of students (28%) reported experiencing bullying at school. Bullying was a particular problem in middle schools; 37% of sixth graders, 28% of ninth graders, and 20% of 12th graders reported that they had been bullied at school.

Other discipline problems at public schools in 200506 included undesirable gang activities, student acts of disrespect for teachers, and student verbal abuse of teachers. Whereas 17% of schools overall reported gang activities, over half (51%) of large schools with more than 1,000 students reported gang activities at school. (See Figure 9.1.) Disrespect for teachers was a problem in 18% of schools, whereas 35% of large schools experienced this problem. Verbal abuse of teachers was a problem in 9% of schools overall, but in 20% of large schools.

One of the ways that schools attempt to deal with safety issues is to take serious disciplinary action (suspensions of five days or more, expulsions, and transfers to specialized schools) against students committing crimes and violent acts. Dinkes et al. note that almost half (48%) of public schools took at least one serious disciplinary action against a student during the 200506 school year. Three-quarters (74.2%) of these actions involved out-of-school suspensions lasting five days or more, 20.4% involved transfers to specialized schools, and 5.4% were removals with no services for the remainder of the school year.

   

These serious disciplinary actions were taken for a variety of offenses. About a third (32%) of public schools took serious disciplinary actions in response to physical attacks or fights. (See Figure 9.2.) Twenty-one percent took these actions in response to insubordination; another 21% were taken in response to the distribution, possession, or use of illegal drugs; and 10% were taken in response to the distribution, possession, or use of alcohol. Nineteen percent were taken in response to the use or possession of a weapon other than a firearm, and 5% were taken in response to the use or possession of a firearm or explosive device.

NONFATAL CRIMES

Between 1992 and 2005 the rate of nonfatal crimes against students between the ages of 12 and 18 at school (in the building, on school property, and en route to and from school) generally declined. (See Figure 9.3.) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) data show that even though thefts often occur more frequently at school than they do away from school, the reverse is true of serious violent crimes such as sexual assault, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery. In 2005 nearly 1.5 million crimes

 

were committed against students at school, including 136,500 serious violent crimes. (See Table 9.2.)

Some students are more likely to be victimized at school than are others. Males experienced a higher rate of crime than females did in general (57 and 56 per 1,000 students, respectively), although females experienced a higher rate of theft (35 per 1,000) than did males (31 per 1,000). (See Table 9.2.) In general, younger students had a higher rate of victimization than did older students. In 2005 65 out of every 1,000 students aged 12 to 14 experienced nonfatal crimes at school, compared to 49 out of every 1,000 students aged 15 to 18. White students (62 per 1,000) were more likely to experience nonfatal crimes at school than were African-American students (43 per 1,000) or Hispanic students (48 per 1,000).

Physical Fights, Injuries, and Forcible Rape

According to Danice K. Eaton et al. of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Youth Risk Behavior SurveillanceUnited States, 2007 (Morbidity and Mortality

 
TABLE 9.2 Rate of student-reported nonfatal crimes against students ages 1218 at school and rate of crimes per 1,000 students, by selected characteristics, 2005
  Number of crimes Rate of crimes per 1,000 students
Student or school characteristic Total Theft Violent Serious violenta Total Theft Violent Serious violenta
! Interpret data with caution.
Reporting standards not met.
aSerious violent crimes are also included in violent crimes.
bOther includes Asians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians (including Alaska Natives), and those of more than one race. Respondents who identified themselves as being of Hispanic ethnicity are classified as Hispanic, regardless of their race.
Note: Serious violent crimes include rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes include serious violent crimes and simple assault. Total crimes include violent crimes and theft. At school includes inside the school building, on school property, or on the way to or from school. Population size for students ages 1218 is 26,456,000 in 2005.
Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding and missing data on student and school characteristics. Estimates of number of crimes are rounded to the nearest 100.
SOURCE: Rachel Dinkes, Emily Forrest Cataldi, and Wendy Lin-Kelly, Table 2.2. Number of Student-Reported Nonfatal Crimes against Students Ages 1218 at School and Rate of Crimes per 1,000 Students, by Selected Student and School Characteristics: 2005, in Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2007, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, and U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2007, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/iscs07.pdf (accessed November 12, 2008)
At school
Total 1,496,300 868,100 628,200 136,500 57 33 24 5
Sex
Male 776,900 415,300 361,700 77,300 57 31 27 6
Female 719,300 452,800 266,500 59,100 56 35 21 5
Age
1214 811,400 436,200 375,300 45,800! 65 35 30 4!
1518 684,900 431,900 252,900 90,600 49 31 18 6
Race/ethnicityb
White 987,000 604,000 383,000 63,900 62 38 24 4
Black 170,900 88,300 82,600 43 22 21
Hispanic 226,400 128,500 97,900 48 27 21
Other 112,000 47,200 64,800 66 28 38
Urbanicity
Urban 473,000 222,500 250,500 65,700 64 30 34 9
Suburban 789,200 510,400 278,900 63,300 55 35 19 4
Rural 234,000 135,200 98,800 50 29 21
Household income
Less than $15,000 88,900 57,000 32,000! 39 25 14!
$15,00029,999 244,100 94,300 149,800 66 26 41
$30,00049,999 286,500 128,200 158,300 62 28 34
$50,00074,999 290,100 168,900 121,200 67 39 28
$75,000 or more 397,200 299,800 97,400 60 46 15

Weekly Report, vol. 57, no. SS-4, June 6, 2008), in 2007, 35.5% of students nationwide reported being in one or more physical fights anywhere (not necessarily at school) during the last 12 months. (See Table 9.3.) Male students (44.4%) were more likely to report this behavior than female students (26.5%). A higher proportion of African-American students (44.7%) and Hispanic students (40.4%) acknowledged fighting than did white students (31.7%). However, the proportions of students fighting decreased as students got older. Ninth grade students (40.9%) fought the most, followed by 10th graders (36.2%), 11th graders (34.8%), and 12th graders (28%).

Dinkes et al. report that even though 35.9% of students acknowledged physically fighting, only 13.6% of students fought on school property in 2005. More male students (18.2%) than female students (8.8%) engaged in fights on school property, and more Hispanic students (18.3%) and African-American students (16.9%) than white students (11.6%) reported this behavior. The incidence of fighting on school grounds decreased by age in a similar pattern to physical fighting in general.

According to Eaton et al., in 2007 about 4.2% of students noted that they had been injured in a physical fight in the past 12 months, including 5.5% of male students and 2.9% of female students. (See Table 9.3.) African-American students (5.3%) and Hispanic students (6.3%) reported a higher percentage of injuries than did white students (3%).

However, more students reported having experienced dating violence than having been involved in physical fights. In 2007 one out of 10 (9.9%) students said they had been physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend on purpose (hit, slapped, or otherwise physically hurt) one or more times in the last 12 months, including 8.8% of female students and 11% of male students. (See Table 9.3.) African-American students (14.2%) were the most likely to be hurt by a dating partner, followed by Hispanic students (11.1%) and white

 
TABLE 9.3 Percentage of high school students who engaged in violence and in behaviors resulting from violence, by sex, race/ethnicity, and grade, 2007
Category In a physical fighta Injured in a physical fighta, b
Female Male Total Female Male Total
% % % % % %
aOne or more times during the 12 months before the survey.
bInjuries had to be treated by a doctor or nurse.
cHit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend during the 12 months before the survey.
dWhen they did not want to.
eNon-Hispanic.
SOURCE: Adapted from Danice K. Eaton, Table 9. Percentage of High School Students Who Were in a Physical Fight and Who Were Injured in a Physical Fight, by Sex, Race/Ethnicity, and GradeUnited States, Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2007, and Table 11. Percentage of High School Students Who Experienced Dating Violence and Who Were Ever Physically Forced to Have Sexual Intercourse, by Sex, Race/Ethnicity, and GradeUnited States, Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2007, in Youth Risk Behavior SurveillanceUnited States, 2007, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, vol. 57, no. SS-4, June 6, 2008, http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/pdf/yrbss07_mmwr.pdf (accessed November 5, 2008)
Race/ethnicity
Whitee 21.5 41.9 31.7 2.0 4.1 3.0
Black e 39.4 50.3 44.7 4.2 6.5 5.3
Hispanic 33.5 47.3 40.4 5.1 7.6 6.3
Grade
9 31.8 49.6 40.9 4.3 6.7 5.6
10 27.2 45.1 36.2 2.1 5.4 3.7
11 23.5 46.3 34.8 2.5 4.6 3.5
12 21.8 34.3 28.0 2.3 4.4 3.3
Total 26.5 44.4 35.5 2.9 5.5 4.2
Category Dating violencec Forced to have sexual intercoursed
Female Male Total Female Male Total
% % % % % %
Race/ethnicity
Whitee 7.4 9.3 8.4 11.0 3.2 7.0
Blacke 13.2 15.2 14.2 13.3 7.8 10.5
Hispanic 10.1 12.0 11.1 11.4 6.2 8.8
Grade
9 6.3 10.5 8.5 9.2 4.1 6.6
10 8.8 9.1 8.9 13.1 3.4 8.2
11 10.2 10.8 10.6 12.0 5.0 8.5
12 10.1 14.1 12.1 10.9 5.7 8.3
Total 8.8 11.0 9.9 11.3 4.5 7.8

students (8.4%). Eaton et al. also find that the higher the grade level, the higher the percentage of students getting hurt by a dating partner8.5% of ninth graders, 8.9% of 10th graders, 10.6% of 11th graders, and 12.1% of 12th graders reported having been intentionally hurt by a dating partner in the past 12 months.

Eaton et al. also asked students if they had ever been forced to have sexual intercourse, or had been forcibly raped. Overall, 7.8% of students acknowledged being forcibly raped11.3% of female students and 4.5% of male students. (See Table 9.3.) African-American students (10.5%) were the most likely to report being victimized in this way, followed by Hispanic students (8.8%) and white students (7%). Ninth graders were less likely than older students to report forced sexual intercourse. These results highlight the high level of sexual and dating violence experienced by high school students.

Bullies and Bullying

Most people can recall certain individuals or a group of children at school being identified as bullies. Such behaviors are not new to schools. Bullies harass certain kids they know will not fight back, including pushing students against lockers and taking their lunch money or other personal possessions; pulling gags in attempts to humiliate others and cause extreme embarrassment; shoving others out of their way; threatening violence or setting up derogatory Web sites about other students; sending threatening or insulting text messages; and disrupting class and making threatening gestures, even toward teachers. Some studies, such as Jill F. DeVoe, Sarah Kaffenberger, and Kathryn Chandler's Student Reports of Bullying: Results from the 2001 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey (July 2005, http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2005/2005310.pdf), divide these bullying behaviors into two categories: direct and indirect. Direct bullying behaviors include physical and verbal attacks and harassment. Indirect bullying behaviors include subtle actions that might be hard for those not directly involved to recognize. These would include psychological activities, such as those listed earlier, as well as obscene gestures, hurtful facial expressions, and turning friends against each other.

During the late 1990s bullying at schools became a major issue of concern for parents, educators, police, lawmakers, and students as increasing numbers of people perceived that bullying had become more aggressive and hurtful. In addition, a rash of school shootings shocked the nation in the 1990s. Many of the school shooters, mainly middle school and high school white males, complained of being bullied, victimized, and harassed frequently. They had grown tired of being picked on and struck back, they said. In fact, DeVoe, Kaffenberger, and Chandler find that students who had been bullied were more likely than other students to carry weapons to school (4% and 1%, respectively). However, most of the victims of school shootings are not the bullies who have harassed the shooters, but average students caught in the cross fire of angry classmates.

DEFINITION AND CHARACTERISTICS OF BULLYING. According to profiles created by various research organizations, such as Bullying (May 2008, http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/bullying) by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, bullies are most often males, although girls do engage in bullying behaviors as well. Boys are more likely to use physical and verbal abuse, frequently on a one-on-one basis. Girls

typically use verbal and psychological tactics. Female bullies often refrain from one-on-one contact, preferring to work in groups. This might include circulating a slam book about another person, which is a notebook containing derogatory remarks about the victim written by the bullying group, or e-mailing embarrassing pictures taken by cell phones in locker rooms to a large group of girls. Male victims of bullying are typically bullied by other males, but female victims may be bullied by either male or female students.

Bullies look for situations where they can gain power over someone else through intimidation and threats. Sometimes they work alone; other times they work in groups. Some bullies surround themselves with weaker kids who act as henchmen. Bullies seek out situations to harass others in places such as playgrounds and school hallways that are not being supervised by adults. In this way, there are no adult witnesses to either stop the act or report it to school authorities.

In Youth Bullying (May 2002, http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/39/youthbullying.pdf), Missy Fleming and Kelly J. Towey of the American Medical Association explain that bullies are typically impulsive, have difficulty controlling anger, are easily frustrated, fail to follow rules, and view violence in a positive light. Individual risk factors include a lack of warmth from parents, a lack of parental supervision, and harsh, corporal discipline or child maltreatment. In addition, some schools have higher rates of bullying than do others because there is inadequate adult supervision or because teachers and staff have indifferent or accepting attitudes toward bullying.

In general, Fleming and Towey note that victims of bullies are passive. They are quiet, cautious, sensitive, and insecure people with few friends to step in and help them out of a bullying situation. They have difficulty standing up to people during confrontations, so bullies perceive them to be safe and easy targets. Male victims tend to be physically smaller and weaker than their peers. Any children who have been victims of child maltreatment are also more likely to be victimized by bullies. However, it is important to note that any student can become a victim of bullying, and the fault lies with the bully, not with the victim.

As the prevalence of bullying increases and more parents and educators grow concerned, various studies are being conducted to learn more about bullies, victims, and the frequency of such occurrences. Bullying appears to be on the rise. DeVoe, Kaffenberger, and Chandler report that in 2001 only 14% of 12- to 18-year-olds reported being bullied at school during the previous six months. Dinkes et al. state that four years later, in 2005, 28.1% of 12- to 18-year-olds reported being bullied at school during the previous six months27.1% of males and 29.2% of females. (See Table 9.4.)

In 2005 white students reported the most problems with bullies (30%). African-American students (28.5%) and Hispanic students (22.3%) reported slightly less trouble. Reports of being bullied diminished with age; 36.6% of sixth graders but only 19.9% of 12th graders reported being victimized by bullies. (See Table 9.4.)

DeVoe, Kaffenberger, and Chandler present survey results of students aged 12 to 18 who reported in 2001 being bullied at school. The researchers find that factors in the school environment affected the incidence of bullying. Students who said there were gangs at school were more likely than other students to report being bullied (21% and 13%, respectively). Likewise, students who reported security guards or police officers in their schools were less likely than other students to report being bullied (13% and 16%, respectively). Hall monitoring by staff was also associated with fewer students being bullied (14% and 18%). Several studies, such as Farah Williams and Dewey G. Cornell's Student Willingness to Seek Help for Threats of Violence (Journal of School Violence, vol. 5, no. 4, 2006) and Lauren P. Ashbaugh and Dewey G. Cornell's Sexual Harassment and Bullying Behaviors in Sixth Graders (Journal of School Violence, vol. 7, no. 2, 2008), find that girls are more likely than boys to report and seek help for bullying.

EFFECTS OF BULLYING/BEING BULLIED . DeVoe, Kaf-fenberger, and Chandler find that bullied students were more likely to engage in a variety of behaviors than students who had not been bullied, including fearing attack, truancy from school or skipping classes, not participating in afterschool activities, carrying weapons, and engaging in physical fights. Students were afraid to attend school and practiced avoidance behaviors such as finding the shortest routes to school or to different places within the school in an attempt to prevent an attack. Being victimized by a bully may also lead to aggressive and/or antisocial behavior. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry notes in Bullying that students who are being bullied may even attempt suicide.

In Relationships between Bullying and Violence among US Youth (Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, vol. 157, no. 4, April 2003), Tonja R. Nansel et al. determine whether bullying is related to other types of violent behavior. The researchers find that boys who acknowledged bullying others at school at least once each week had an increased level of carrying a weapon to school in the last month (43.1%), carrying a weapon in general (52.2%), being involved in frequent physical fighting (38.7%), and being injured in fighting (45.7%). Male bullies who attacked their victims away from school were even more likely to engage in these behaviors. Nansel et al. conclude, Bullying should not be considered a normative aspect of youth development, but rather a marker for more serious violent behaviors, including weapon carrying, frequent fighting, and fighting-related injury.

 
TABLE 9.4 Percentage of students ages 1218 who reported being bullied at school during the previous 6 months, by location, injury, and selected student and school characteristics, 2005
Student or school characteristic Total Location of bullying Students who were injureda
Inside school Outside on school grounds School bus Somewhere else
!Interpret data with caution.
Reporting standards not met.
aInjury includes bruises or swelling; cuts, scratches, or scrapes; black eye or bloody nose; teeth chipped or knocked out; broken bones or internal injuries; knocked unconscious; or other injuries. Only students who reported that their bullying incident constituted being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on were asked if they suffered injuries as a result of the incident.
bOther includes American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, and more than one race. For this report, non-Hispanic students who identified themselves as more than one race were included in the other category. Respondents who identified themselves as being of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of their race.
Notes: At school includes the school building, on school property, on a school bus, or going to and from school. In 2005, the unit response rate for this survey did not meet National Center Education Statistics standards; therefore, interpret the data with caution. Population size for students ages 1218 is 25,811,000 in 2005. Location totals may sum to more than 100 because students could have been bullied in more than one location.
SOURCE: Rachel Dinkes, Emily Forrest Cataldi, and Wendy Lin-Kelly, Table 11.2. Percentage of Students Ages 1218 Who Reported Being Bullied at School during the Previous 6 Months, by Location of Bullying, Injury, and Selected Student and School Characteristics: 2005, in Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2007, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, and U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2007, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/iscs07.pdf (accessed November 12, 2008)
Total 28.1 79.0 27.8 8.1 4.9 24.0
Sex
Male 27.1 77.6 28.5 8.7 4.4 30.6
Female 29.2 80.4 27.0 7.5 5.3 17.7
Race/ethnicityb
White 30.0 80.6 27.9 7.6 4.7 24.4
Black 28.5 77.3 25.2 10.8 4.3! 25.9
Hispanic 22.3 74.8 28.7 6.2 4.8 21.7
Other 24.6 76.7 31.2 9.4! 7.9! 20.8
Grade
6th 36.6 68.2 36.9 7.6 4.7! 32.3
7th 35.0 81.0 30.0 14.2 2.9 31.7
8th 30.4 79.4 24.8 10.4 4.0 27.0
9th 28.1 81.7 28.0 5.1 5.0 21.0
10th 24.9 80.1 23.3 5.4 4.4! 21.2
11th 23.0 80.3 26.9 4.5! 7.2 14.5
12th 19.9 80.0 24.9 4.4! 8.5 12.7
Urbanicity
Urban 26.0 76.9 28.4 6.5 5.4 23.0
Suburban 28.9 78.5 28.2 8.9 5.2 24.6
Rural 29.0 83.6 25.7 7.6 3.0! 23.8
Sector
Public 28.6 79.4 27.5 8.3 4.9 24.4
Private 22.7 73.9 31.5 4.2! 18.0

CYBERBULLIES . Justin W. Patchin and Sameer Hinduja report in Bullies Move beyond the Schoolyard (Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, vol. 4, no. 2, 2006) that with the advent of the Internet and the increased use of cell phones among students, bullies have found a new way to taunt their victims: cyberbullying, which is also called digital bullying or Internet bullying. Instead of abusing their victims at school, on the playground, or en route to and from school, bullies are now able to taunt their victims day and night via current technology. Victims report receiving hateful and hurtful instant messages, e-mails, and text messages on their cell phones. Use of such technologies allows the perpetrators to be anonymous, if they so choose.

Some students have become the victims of hate-filled Web sites that discuss why the bullies and his or her friends do not like that certain individual. Visitors to such sites are allowed to add their insults and gossip as well. In some instances, visitors have rallied to the defense of the victim and slammed the bully. Through the use of camera phones, bullies have even taken sensitive photos of students in locker rooms, in restrooms, or while being intimidated. Then the bullies pass them around, either via e-mail or on Web sites. Researchers point out that electronic bullying can be done anywhere and does not involve the bully having any personal contact, especially eye contact, with the victim.

Parents have experienced difficulty in getting the Web sites removed by service providers, who suggest that they are not in the business of censorship and that the content is protected under the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech. Some parents have decided to file lawsuits to get the content taken down. Due to their age and lack of understanding of the law, bullies often do not realize that they are legally responsible for what they put in print.

In Research Summary: Cyberbullying Victimization (2005, http://www.cyberbullying.us/cyberbullying_victimization.pdf), Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin find

that in 2005, 34.4% of adolescent respondents had experienced cyberbullying. More than one out of 10 (12.6%) reported they had been physically threatened, and 4.8% were frightened for their safety as a result. The researchers explain that most cyberbullying occurs in chat rooms (55.6%) or through text messaging (48.9%). Victims of cyberbullying reported feeling frustrated (34%), angry (30.6%), and sad (21.8%); only a third (35%) were not bothered by the experience. According to Janis Wolak, Kimberly Mitchell, and David Findelhor of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at the University of New Hampshire, in Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years Later (2006, http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/CV138.pdf), the percentage of youth who admitted making rude or nasty comments to someone on the Internet had doubled from 14% in 2000 to 28% in 2005.

In one highly publicized case, 13-year-old Megan Meier committed suicide after she was cyberbullied through the social networking Web site MySpace. She befriended a stranger, a boy named Josh Evans, through the site. However, the Josh Evans MySpace account had been created by a group of people headed by Lori Drew, the mother of a former friend of Meier's. Josh Evans began sending Meier increasingly hurtful messages and posted bulletins about her. In October 2006 Meier hanged herself in her bedroom. In May 2008 a federal grand jury indicted Drew on one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress. Drew was convicted in November 2008 of three misdemeanors but acquitted of felony conspiracy charges.

PREVENTION PROGRAMS . Schools throughout the country have implemented antibullying programs aimed at bringing the subject out in the open. Antibullying efforts are not only geared toward bullies but also at the students and teachers who do not do enough to stop such aggression from occurring. Some victims claim there are teachers who allow bullying to occur, even encourage it. Others say they are afraid to tell teachers because the educators just ignore it and tell the victims to toughen up. Still other victims are ashamed that they cannot stop the bullies so they retreat into themselves and internalize it.

One successful antibullying program, the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (October 21, 2008, http://www.clemson.edu/olweus/), teaches students, parents, and school staff to work together to address the issue. By discussing bullying and its effects, people learn the consequences of bullying on individuals and on the school environment. Rules and plans are developed and enforced. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) notes that the Olweus program is successful in elementary and junior high schools. According to the article New Approach to Combating Bullies (CBS News, December 10, 2003), the European schools that use the program have cut bullying by 30% to 70%.

Crimes against Teachers

Teachers sometimes fall victim to crimes at school. According to Dinkes et al., the percentage of teachers threatened with injury or physically attacked declined between the 199394 and 200304 school years. In 200304, 7% of teachers were threatened with injury by a student in their school. (See Figure 9.4.) Teachers in city schools were more likely than teachers in other schools to be threatened with injury. Twelve percent of teachers in city schools were threatened in 200304, compared to 6% of suburban teachers and 5% of rural teachers. Dinkes et al. report that 4% of public school teachers and 2% of private school teachers said they were actually physically attacked by students from school during the 12 months preceding the survey.

Weapons in School

Violence at school makes students feel vulnerable and intimidated. Sometimes it makes them want to carry weapons to school for self-protection. The Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 required states to pass laws forcing school districts to expel any student who brings a firearm to school. Dinkes et al. indicate that in 2005, 6.5% of high school students reported they had carried a weapon (a gun, knife, or club) on school property in the last 30 days, down from 11.8% of students in 1993 but higher than in 2003. (See Table 9.5.) A much higher percentage of males (10.2%) than females (2.6%) reported carrying a weapon on school property. The percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon anywhere decreased from 22.1% in 1993 to 17.1% in 2003 before rising again to 18.5% in 2005. Eaton et al. state that in 2007, 18% of students had carried a weapon during the past 30 days, and 5.2% had carried a gun.

According to Dinkes et al., males were more likely than females to carry weapons on school property in all years reported, moving from a high of 17.9% in 1993 to a low of 8.9% in 2003. They were also more likely to carry weapons anywhere, although this dropped from 34.3% in 1993 to 26.9% in 2003 before rising again to 29.8% in 2005. Females were far less likely than their male peers to carry weapons on school property (5.1% in 1993 and 2.6% in 2005) or anywhere else (9.2% in 1993 and 7.1% in 2005). (See Table 9.5.)

Various reasons could explain why students are carrying fewer weapons to school. Enhanced security measures at school, such as metal detectors and locker searches, added in the wake of the highly publicized school shootings in the 1990s, could be partially responsible. Another reason could be the stricter punishment given to those found with guns in school. Many schools have adopted zero-tolerance

 

rules, resulting in the immediate expulsion of someone who is found breaking those guidelines.

For some students, obtaining guns is fairly easy. The OJJDP notes that young people attempt various methods to secure guns, including stealing them from cars, houses, apartments, stores and pawnshops, and family members. They also buy guns from family members, drug dealers or addicts, stores, gang members, family friends, and others.

WEAPON USE ON SCHOOL PROPERTY . The percentage of students who report being threatened with or injured by a weapon while at school remained fairly steady between 1993 and 2005. Approximately 7.9% of students in grades nine through 12 reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property within the past 12 months in 2005. (See Table 9.6.) This figure was a slight increase from 1993, when 7.3% of students reported being threatened or injured by a weapon. Between 1993 and 2005 the percentage remained in the 7% to 9% rangeno clear pattern of improvement or worsening can be seen.

Male students received considerably more weapons threats and injuries in all years surveyed between 1993 and 2005 than did female students. Among students from different ethnic and racial backgrounds, the victimization rate was highest among Pacific Islanders in 2005 (14.5%), down from a high of 24.8% in 2001. (See Table 9.6.) Native American students (9.8%) and Hispanic students (9.8%) also had fairly high victimization rates. Asian-American students were the least likely to be threatened by or injured with a weapon in 2005 (4.6%).

The youngest students were the most likely to report being threatened by or injured with a weapon. More than one out of 10 (10.5%) ninth graders reported being threatened or injured with a weapon in 2005, compared to 8.8% of 10th graders, 5.5% of 11th graders, and 5.8% of 12th graders. (See Table 9.6.) Similar patterns were observed in the other years of the survey as well. It may be that younger students are viewed as more vulnerable to intimidation and therefore are more likely to be targets of students carrying weapons.

HAZING

Like bullying, hazing involves humiliating someone into doing something that he or she would not do normally. In some instances, the hazing act is silly and harmless. However,

 
TABLE 9.5 Percentage of students in grades 912 who reported carrying a weapon at least 1 day during the previous 30 days, by selected student characteristics, selected years 19932005
Student or school characteristic Anywhere On school property
1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005
Not available.
!Interpret data with caution.
aAmerican Indian includes Alaska Native, black includes African American, Pacific Islander includes Native Hawaiian, and Hispanic includes Latino. Respondents who identified themselves as being of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of their race.
bThe response categories for race/ethnicity changed in 1999 making comparisons of some categories with earlier years problematic. In 1993, 1995, and 1997, Asian students and Pacific Islander students were not categorized separately and students were not given the option of choosing more than one race.
Notes: On school property was not defined for survey respondents. The term anywhere is not used in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey questionnaire; students are simply asked how many days they carried a weapon during the past 30 days. Population sizes from the Digest of Education Statistics, 2005 and 2002 for students in grades 912 are 13,093,000 students in 1993; 13,697,000 in 1995; 14,272,000 in 1997; 14,623,000 in 1999; 15,061,000 in 2001; 15,723,000 in 2003; and 16,286,000 (projected) in 2005.
SOURCE: Rachel Dinkes, Emily Forrest Cataldi, and Wendy Lin-Kelly, Table 14.1. Percentage of Students in Grades 912 Who Reported Carrying a Weapon at Least 1 Day during the Previous 30 Days, by Location and Selected Student and School Characteristics: Various Years 19932005, in Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2007, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, and U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2007, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/iscs07.pdf (accessed November 12, 2008)
Total 22.1 20.0 18.3 17.3 17.4 17.1 18.5 11.8 9.8 8.5 6.9 6.4 6.1 6.5
Sex
Male 34.3 31.1 27.7 28.6 29.3 26.9 29.8 17.9 14.3 12.5 11.0 10.2 8.9 10.2
Female 9.2 8.3 7.0 6.0 6.2 6.7 7.1 5.1 4.9 3.7 2.8 2.9 3.1 2.6
Race/ethnicitya
White 20.6 18.9 17.0 16.4 17.9 16.7 18.7 10.9 9.0 7.8 6.4 6.1 5.5 6.1
Black 28.5 21.8 21.7 17.2 15.2 17.3 16.4 15.0 10.3 9.2 5.0 6.3 6.9 5.1
Hispanic 24.4 24.7 23.3 18.7 16.5 16.5 19.0 13.3 14.1 10.4 7.9 6.4 6.0 8.2
Asian b b b 13.0 10.6 11.6 7.0 b b b 6.5 7.2 6.6! 2.8!
American Indian 34.2 32.0 26.2 21.8 31.2 29.3 25.6 17.6! 13.0! 15.9 11.6! 16.4 12.9 7.2
Pacific Islander b b b 25.3 17.4 16.3! 20.0! b b b 9.3 10.0! 4.9! 15.4!
More than one race b b b 22.2 25.2 29.8 26.7 b b b 11.4 13.2 13.3! 11.9
Grade
9th 25.5 22.6 22.6 17.6 19.8 18.0 19.9 12.6 10.7 10.2 7.2 6.7 5.3 6.4
10th 21.4 21.1 17.4 18.7 16.7 15.9 19.4 11.5 10.4 7.7 6.6 6.7 6.0 6.9
11th 21.5 20.3 18.2 16.1 16.8 18.2 17.1 11.9 10.2 9.4 7.0 6.1 6.6 5.9
12th 19.9 16.1 15.4 15.9 15.1 15.5 16.9 10.8 7.6 7.0 6.2 6.1 6.4 6.7
Urbanicity
Urban 18.7 15.8 15.3 17.0 7.0 7.2 6.0 5.6
Suburban 16.8 17.0 17.4 16.5 8.7 6.2 6.3 6.4
Rural 22.3 22.3 23.0 18.9 11.2 9.6 8.3 6.3

in the early twenty-first century, parents and educators have become concerned that hazings are getting more and more aggressive and violent. Such hazings, which often occur as initiations to a school or social club, are considered a rite of passage to some, just horseplay to others, and degrading and devastating to various victims. Some athletic teams claim that hazing is done to toughen up younger playersto help them bond with the team. However, unlike bullying, hazing is often done with the consent of its victims. For example, by succumbing to peer pressure and wanting to be part of the group or clique, many students allow themselves to be subjected to humiliating acts that they do not report.

Hazings, however, can go too far and the victims can be seriously harmed. Some victims have even died. Hazings usually involve older students (veterans) initiating young classmates (newcomers) into the club. The situation can quickly turn violent when the older students gang up on the younger students, who have no idea what has been planned or what they should expect. Researchers note that students will do things in a mob situation that they would never do on their own.

Several cases of brutal hazings received significant news coverage in 2003, one involving a high school football team and the other concerning senior and junior high school girls. The football incident took place at a training camp over the summer. At camp, several players were allegedly sexually abused with pine cones, golf balls, and broomsticks. Three players were charged in the incident and appeared before a judge, who was to decide if they should stand trial as juveniles or adults. The judge ordered the decision sealed.

The incident involving the teenage school girls occurred in what was supposed to be a powder puff football game at a local park. Instead, the younger girls were allegedly beaten, kicked, shoved, and pelted with a variety of objects and liquids, including garbage, mud, paint, animal intestines, feces, and urine. Five girls were taken to the hospital as a result. Fifteen students, who were charged with misdemeanors, were identified through witnesses and a videotape that someone made of the melee. Thirty-two were suspended from school. Even though the girls were underage, alcohol was present. Police considered charging some of the girls' parents for providing the alcohol.

 
TABLE 9.6 Percentage of students in grades 912 who reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months, by selected student characteristics, selected years 19932005
Student or school characteristic 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005
Not available.
!Interpret data with caution.
aAmerican Indian includes Alaska Native, black includes African American, Pacific Islander includes Native Hawaiian, and Hispanic includes Latino. Respondents who identified themselves as being of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of their race.
bThe response categories for race/ethnicity changed in 1999 making comparisons of some categories with earlier years problematic. In 1993, 1995, and 1997, Asian students and Pacific Islander students were not categorized separately and students were not given the option of choosing more than one race.
Notes: On school property was not defined for survey respondents. Population sizes from the Digest of Education Statistics, 2005 and 2002 for students in grades 912 are 13,093,000 students in 1993; 13,697,000 in 1995; 14,272,000 in 1997; 14,623,000 in 1999; 15,061,000 in 2001; 15,723,000 in 2003; and 16,286,000 (projected) in 2005.
SOURCE: Rachel Dinkes, Emily Forrest Cataldi, and Wendy Lin-Kelly, Table 4.1. Percentage of Students in Grades 912 Who Reported Being Threatened or Injured with a Weapon on School Property during the Previous 12 Months, by Selected Student and School Characteristics: Various Years, 19932005, in Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2007, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, and U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2007, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/iscs07.pdf (accessed November 12, 2008)
Total 7.3 8.4 7.4 7.7 8.9 9.2 7.9
Sex              
Male 9.2 10.9 10.2 9.5 11.5 11.6 9.7
Female 5.4 5.8 4.0 5.8 6.5 6.5 6.1
Race/ethnicitya              
White 6.3 7.0 6.2 6.6 8.5 7.8 7.2
Black 11.2 11.0 9.9 7.6 9.3 10.9 8.1
Hispanic 8.6 12.4 9.0 9.8 8.9 9.4 9.8
Asian b b b 7.7 11.3 11.5 4.6
American Indian 11.7 11.4! 12.5! 13.2! 15.2! 22.1 9.8
Pacific Islander b b b 15.6 24.8 16.3 14.5!
More than one race b b b 9.3 10.3 18.7 10.7
Grade              
9th 9.4 9.6 10.1 10.5 12.7 12.1 10.5
10th 7.3 9.6 7.9 8.2 9.1 9.2 8.8
11th 7.3 7.7 5.9 6.1 6.9 7.3 5.5
12th 5.5 6.7 5.8 5.1 5.3 6.3 5.8
Urbanicity              
Urban 8.7 8.0 9.2 10.6
Suburban 7.0 7.4 9.0 8.8
Rural 5.6! 8.3 8.1 8.2

More recent incidences of hazing capturing media attention were on college campuses. According to Elaine Korry, in A Fraternity Hazing Gone Wrong (November 14, 2005, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5012154), in February 2005 a young man attending Chico State University died in a fraternity hazing ritual, where fraternity pledges were forced to do calisthenics in raw sewage while drinking massive quantities of water. The young man died of water intoxication. Felony criminal charges were filed against the fraternity brothers involved in the incident. Other incidences, as reported by StopHazing.org (http://www.stophazing.org/news/index.htm), include a young male student beaten in late 2006 by seven University of South Carolina students who were later arrested, and a 2007 case at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), where six students were hospitalized after being forced to drink dangerously high levels of alcohol to join the school's rugby team. Eight RIT rugby players faced misdemeanor charges following the incident.

Various researchers contend that hazing incidents are underreported. This occurs for several reasons:

  • The victim believes hazing is an unpleasant, but a necessary part of joining an organization
  • The victim is threatened into remaining silent
  • The victim is ashamed and wants to forget that the incident occurred
  • The victim assumes everyone has to endure such acts
  • The victim does not want to involve parents, school officials, or police because that would bring more trouble from the hazers

Some school administrators, coaches, and parents also play a role in encouraging students to refrain from reporting the incidents by saying that they, too, had to endure such rituals. However, many schools are developing antihazing programs. Besides criminal charges being filed in courts, parents of students victimized by hazings have brought lawsuits against schools and the perpetrators of such events.

AVOIDANCE AND FEAR

Edward Gaughan, Jay D. Cerio, and Robert A. Myers of Alfred University find in Lethal Violence in Schools:

 
TABLE 9.7 Percentage of high school students who did not go to school because of safety concerns, by sex, race/ethnicity, and grade, 2007
Category Female Male Total
% % %
Note: Respondents felt unsafe on at least 1 day during the 30 days before the survey.
*Non-Hispanic.
SOURCE: Danice K. Eaton,Table 17. Percentage of High School Students Who Did Not Go to School Because They Felt Unsafe at School or on Their Way to or from School, by Sex, Race/Ethnicity, and GradeUnited States, Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2007, in Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance United States, 2007, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, vol. 57, no. SS-4, June 6, 2008, http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/pdf/yrbss07_mmwr.pdf (accessed November 5, 2008)
Race/ethnicity
White* 4.2 3.7 4.0
Black* 6.3 6.8 6.6
Hispanic 9.7 9.6 9.6
Grade
9 7.4 5.8 6.6
10 6.0 4.8 5.4
11 3.9 5.5 4.7
12 4.3 5.3 4.8
Total 5.6 5.4 5.5

A National Study (August 2001, http://www.alfred.edu/teenviolence/docs/lethal_violence_in_schools.pdf) that concern about violence is prevalent in school. Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed believed there are kids at my school who I think might shoot someone. According to the researchers, 20 percent of respondents have heard rumors that another student plans to shoot someone, and 20 percent have also overheard another student actually talking about shooting someone at school. Another 8% acknowledged wanting to shoot someone at school themselves. Finally, only about half of the survey participants said they would inform an adult if they overheard someone's plans to shoot another person.

Some students continue to worry about their safety at school. In 2007, 5.5% of students reported missing one or more days of school in the last 30 days because they believed it was too unsafe at school or going to and from school. (See Table 9.7.) Approximately equal percentages of female students (5.6%) and male students (5.4%) reported this experience. This response to their fear was much higher among Hispanic students (9.6%) and African-American students (6.6%) than it was among white students (4%). Younger children reported not going to school because of safety concerns more than did older children; 6.6% of ninth graders, 5.4% of 10th graders, 4.7% of 11th graders, and 4.8% of 12th graders reported skipping school because of safety concerns in the previous month.

Dinkes et al. also address the issue of fear of attack or harm at school or en route to and from school. The researchers report that in 2005, 6.2% of students aged 12 to 18 reported being afraid of attack or harm at school during the previous six months; this was down dramatically from 11.8% of students in 1995. (See Table 9.8.) In 2005 females (6.6%) were slightly more likely to be afraid of harm than were males (5.9%). Hispanic (10.1%) and African-American (9%) students were more likely than white students (4.5%) to feel afraid of attack at school. Younger students were more likely than older students to fear attack or harm at school. Urban students (10.2%) were far more likely than rural (5.1%) or suburban (4.7%) students to report being afraid of attack or harm. Fewer students were afraid of attack or harm away from school than they were at school (5.1% and 6.2%, respectively).

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT: PERSISTENTLY DANGEROUS SCHOOLS

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was passed by Congress in 2001 and signed into law by President George W. Bush (1946-) in January 2002. As a reautho-rization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the NCLB mandated sweeping changes to the law defining and regulating the federal government's role in kindergarten through 12th-grade education. According to the U.S. Department of Education, in Four Pillars of NCLB (July 1, 2004, http://www.ed.gov/nclb/overview/intro/4pillars.html), the four principles are:

  • Stronger accountability for results
  • Increased flexibility and local control
  • Expanded options for parents
  • An emphasis on teaching methods that have been proven to work

Under the NCLB, schools are required to demonstrate adequate yearly progress toward statewide proficiency goals. Those that do not make progress face corrective action and restructuring measures. Reporting of progress is public, so parents can stay informed about their school and school district. Schools that make or exceed adequate yearly progress are eligible for awards. The ultimate goal is that all children will have a quality education by the 201314 school year.

Unsafe School Choice Option

Among the various changes that the NCLB required was a provision mandating that states work on making schools safer. The Department of Education explains in Questions and Answers on No Child Left Behind (November 17, 2004, http://www.ed.gov/nclb/freedom/safety/creating.html):

Under Title IV of ESEA as reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act, states are required to establish a uniform management and reporting system to collect information on school safety and drug use among young people. The states must include incident reports by school officials

 
TABLE 9.8 Percentage of students ages 1218 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the previous 6 months, by location and selected student characteristics, selected years 19952005
Student or school characteristic At school Away from school
1995 1999 2001 2003 2005 1995 1999 2001 2003 2005
Not available.
!Interpret data with caution.
Other includes American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, and, from 2003 onward, more than one race. For this report, non-Hispanic students who identified themselves as more than one race were included in the other category. Respondents who identified themselves as being of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of their race. Due to changes in racial/ethnic categories, comparisons of race/ethnicity across years should be made with caution.
Note: At school includes the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and, from 2001 onward, going to and from school. For the 2001 survey, the wording was changed from attack or harm to attack or threat of attack. Includes students who reported that they sometimes or most of the time feared being victimized in this way. Fear of attack away from school was not collected in 1995. In 2005, the unit response rate for this survey did not meet NCES statistical standards; therefore, interpret the data with caution. Population sizes for students ages 1218 are 23,325,000 in 1995; 24,614,000 in 1999; 24,315,000 in 2001; 25,684,000 in 2003; and 25,811,000 in 2005.
SOURCE: Rachel Dinkes, Emily Forrest Cataldi, and Wendy Lin-Kelly, Table 17.1. Percentage of Students Ages 1218 Who Reported Being Afraid of Attack or Harm during the Previous 6 Months, by Location and Selected Student and School Characteristics: Various Years, 19952005, in Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2007, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, and U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2007, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/iscs07.pdf (accessed November 12, 2008)
Total 11.8 7.3 6.4 6.1 6.2 5.7 4.6 5.4 5.1
Sex                    
Male 10.8 6.5 6.4 5.3 5.9 4.1 3.7 4.0 4.5
Female 12.8 8.2 6.4 6.9 6.6s 7.4 5.6 6.8 5.7
Race/ethnicity*                    
White 8.1 5.0 4.9 4.1 4.5 4.3 3.7 3.8 4.2
Black 20.3 13.5 8.9 10.7 9.0 8.7 6.3 10.0 7.2
Hispanic 20.9 11.7 10.6 9.5 10.1 8.9 6.5 7.4 6.1
Other 13.5 6.7 6.4 5.0 6.3 5.4 6.6 3.9 5.9!
Grade                    
6th 14.3 10.9 10.6 10.0 9.5 7.8 6.3 6.8 5.7
7th 15.3 9.5 9.2 8.2 9.1 6.1 5.5 6.7 7.5
8th 13.0 8.1 7.6 6.3 6.9 5.5 4.4 5.3 4.9
9th 11.6 7.1 5.5 6.3 5.7 4.6 4.5 4.3 3.8
10th 11.0 7.1 5.0 4.4 5.3 4.8 4.2 5.3 4.6
11th 8.9 4.8 4.8 4.7 4.5 5.9 4.7 4.7 4.1
12th 7.8 4.8 2.9 3.7 3.3 6.1 3.3 4.9 5.3
Urbanicity                    
Urban 18.4 11.6 9.7 9.5 10.2 9.1 7.4 8.1 6.6
Suburban 9.8 6.2 4.8 4.8 4.7 5.0 3.8 4.4 4.5
Rural 8.6 4.8 6.0 4.7 5.1 3.0 3.0 4.0 4.6
Sector                    
Public 12.2 7.7 6.6 6.4 6.5 5.8 4.6 5.4 5.1
Private 7.3 3.6 4.6 3.0 3.8 5.0 5.1 4.7 4.7

and anonymous student and teacher surveys in the data they collect. This information is to be publicly reported so that parents, school officials and others who are interested have information about any violence and drug use at their schools. They can then assess the problems at their schools and work toward finding solutions. Continual monitoring and reports will track progress over time.

To hold schools accountable for ensuring student safety, the NCLB requires states to create a definition of persistently dangerous schools. States must permit students to have public school choice if their school consistently falls into this category. In addition, student victims of violent crime are also allowed public school choice even if the school is not considered persistently dangerous.

PERSISTENTLY DANGEROUS SCHOOLS: GEORGIA'S EXAMPLE . To illustrate what some states have done to fulfill the NCLB requirements pertaining to persistently dangerous schools, this section focuses on the Georgia Department of Education's (GDOE) efforts. According to the GDOE, in Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO) (2008, http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/aypnclb.aspx?PageReq=AboutUSCO), Georgia defines persistently dangerous schools as:

Any school in which for three consecutive years:
At least 1 student is found by official tribunal action to have violated a school rule related to a violent criminal offense (including aggravated battery, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated sodomy, armed robbery, arson, kidnapping, murder, rape, & voluntary manslaughter) either on campus or at a school-sanctioned event;
At least 2% of the student body or 10 students, whichever is greater, have been found to have violated school rules related to other identified criminal offenses, including non-felony drugs, felony drugs, felony weapons, terroristic threats;
Any combination of [the above].

The GDOE further outlines what happens as a consequence of a school being labeled persistently dangerous:

When a school meets the criteria for three consecutive years, local education agencies (local school districts, herein referred to as LEAs) must within ten school days notify parents of each student attending the school that the state has identified the school as persistently dangerous.
Within 20 school days from the time that the LEA learns that the school has been identified as persistently dangerous, the LEA must give students the opportunity to transfer to a safe public school, including a safe public charter school, within the LEA.
LEAs must adopt a policy that facilitates the transfer of students who are victims of violent criminal offenses. This policy shall provide that the transfer shall occur within ten school days of the commission of the violent criminal offense, and to the extent possible, shall allow victims to transfer to a school that is making adequate yearly progress and has not been identified as being in school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring.

If deemed persistently dangerous, a school will need to show significant improvements to regain its place on the safe school list. Georgia has specific requirements that such schools must follow, which include taking corrective measures. After a year of showing that it is no longer dangerous, a school can reapply to the GDOE. When it filed its report in 2003, the GDOE indicated that no Georgia schools were deemed persistently dangerous.

Reporting Violence and Crime at School

The National School Safety and Security Services notes in School Crime Reporting and School Crime Underreporting (February 10, 2008, http://www.schoolsecurity.org/trends/school_crime_reporting.html) that the unsafe school requirement of the NCLB concerns educators, parents, and police. Some believe schools will be even more hesitant to report crimes so that they will not be labeled as persistently dangerous. They suggest that by falling into this designation, these schools will undoubtedly lose enrollment and school funds. As such, schools may begin to underreport such crimes so that they maintain a clean rating.

The National Association of School Resource Officers asked its members in 2004 what effects the NCLB would have on school administrators reporting school-based crimes, and Kenneth S. Trump reported the findings in School Safety Left Behind? School Safety Threats Grow as Preparedness Stalls and Funding Decreases (February 2005, http://www.schoolsecurity.org/resources/2004%20NASRO%20Survey%20Final%20Report%20NSSSS.pdf). Most (54%) of those surveyed believed it would result in decreased reporting of crimes at schools. The vast majority (86%) said the number of crimes on school property were underreported to law enforcement.

Dinkes et al. indicate that many crimes, even violent crimes, committed at school are not reported to the police. During the 200506 school year, 77.7% of public schools experienced one or more violent crimes but just 37.7% reported violent crimes to the police. (See Table 9.9.) Violent incidents included physical attacks, fights with or without weapons, threats of physical violence with or without weapons, rape, sexual battery (other than rape), and robbery with or without weapons. Low-reporting trends also occurred with thefts. Even though 46% of public schools experienced one or more thefts, just 27.9% reported them to the police.

Proportionally, schools were more likely to report seriously violent incidents to the police, presumably due to the gravity of such offenses. However, even some serious violent crimes were not reported. In 200506, 17.1% of public schools experienced one or more serious violent crimes and only 12.6% reported any serious violent crimes to the police. (See Table 9.9.)

 
TABLE 9.9 Percentage of public schools experiencing and reporting incidents of crime that occurred at school, number of incidents, and the rate per 1,000 students, by type of crime, 19992000, 200304, and 200506
Type of crime Experienced various tvpes of crime Reported to police
19992000 200304 200506 19992000 200304 200506
Percent of schools Number of incidents Rate per 1,000 students Percent of schools Number of incidents Rate per 1,000 students
Percent of schools Percent of schools Percent of schools Percent of schools
Not available.
# Rounds to zero.
! Interpret data with caution.
aTheft/larceny (taking things worth over $10 without personal confrontation) was defined for respondents as the unlawful taking of another person's property without personal confrontation, threat, violence, or bodily harm. Included are pocket picking, stealing a purse or backpack (If left unattended orno force was used to take It from owner), theft from a building, theft from a motor vehicle or of motor vehicle parts or accessories, theft of bicycles, theft from vending machines, and all other types of thefts.
bThe questionnaire wording for possession of a knife or sharp object differed between survey administrations. In 19992000 and 200506, the question asked about possession of a knife or sharp object. In 200304, the question was changed to refer to possession of a knife or sharp object with Intent to harm.
Note: Responses were provided by the principal or the person most knowledgeable about crime and safety issues at the school. At school was defined for respondents to include activities that happen In school buildings, on school grounds, on school buses, and at places that hold school-sponsored events or activities. Respondents were Instructed to respond only for those times that were during normal school hours or when school activities or events were In session, unless the survey specified otherwise. Population size of public schools Is 82,000 in 19992000, 80,500 In 200304, and 83,200 in 200506. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Estimates of number of incidents and schools are rounded to the nearest 100.
SOURCE: Rachel Dinkes, Emily Forrest Cataldi, and Wendy Lin-Kelly, Table 6.1. Percentage of Public Schools Experiencing and Reporting Incidents of Crime That Occurred at School, Number of Incidents, and the Rate per 1,000 Students, by Type of Crime: Various School Years, 19992000, 20032004, and 20052006, in Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2007, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, and U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2007, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/iscs07.pdf (accessed November 12, 2008)
Total 86.4 88.5 85.7 2,191,000 45.8 62.5 65.2 60.9 763,000 16.0
Violent incidents 71.4 81.4 77.7 1,489,400 31.2 36.0 43.6 37.7 353,600 7.4
Physical attack or fight without a weapon 63.7 76.7 74.3 897,700 18.8 25.8 35.6 29.2 205,400 4.3
Threat of physical attack without a weapon 52.2 53.0 52.2 532,600 11.1 18.9 21 19.7 116,500 2.4
Serious violent Incidents 19.7 18.3 17.1 59,100 1.2 14.8 13.3 12.6 31,700 0.7
Rape or attempted rape 0.7 0.8 0.3 300 # 0.6 0.8 0.3 300 #
Sexual battery other than rape 2.5 3.0 2.8 4,200 0.1 2.3 2.6 2.6 3,800 0.1
Physical attack or fight with a weapon 5.2 4.0 3.0 7,000 0.1 3.9 2.8 2.2 3,600 0.1
Threat of physical attack with a weapon 11.1 8.6 8.8 24,800 0.5 8.5 6.0 5.9 9,800 0.2
Robbery with a weapon 0.5! 0.6 0.4 600! # 0.3! 0.6 0.4 600! #
Robbery without a weapon 5.3 6.3 6.4 22,100 0.5 3.4 4.2 4.9 13,600 0.3
Thefta 45.6 46.0 46.0 242,700 5.1 28.5 30.5 27.9 119,400 2.5
Other Incidents 72.7 64.0 68.2 458,900 9.6 52.0 50.0 50.6 290,000 6.1
Possess firearm/explosive device 5.5 6.1 7.2 12,300 0.3 4.5 4.9 5.5 10,100 0.2
Possess knife or sharp objectb 42.6 15.9 42.8 90,000 1.9 23.0 12.1 25.0 54,500 1.1
Distribution of Illegal drugs 12.3 12.9 11.4 12.4
Possession or use of alcohol or illegal drugs 26.6 29.3 22.2 26
Distribution, possession, or use of illegal drugs 25.9 117,000 2.4 22.8 100,500 2.1
Distribution, possession, or use of alcohol 16.2 46,800 1.0 11.6 33,600 0.7
Sexual harassment 36.3 14.7
Vandalism 51.4 51.4 50.5 192,800 4.0 32.7 34.3 31.9 91,400 1.9

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Crime and Violence in the Schools." Growing Up: Issues Affecting America's Youth. 2009. Encyclopedia.com. 29 Sep. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Crime and Violence in the Schools." Growing Up: Issues Affecting America's Youth. 2009. Encyclopedia.com. (September 29, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-1335600015.html

"Crime and Violence in the Schools." Growing Up: Issues Affecting America's Youth. 2009. Retrieved September 29, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-1335600015.html

Crime and Violence in the Schools

Chapter 9
Crime and Violence in the Schools

School is supposed to be a safe haven where young people can go to learn the basics of mathematics, literature, science, and other subjects, without fearing for their safety, feeling intimidated, or being harassed. Although school administrators and teachers work toward making the environment safe and secure, crime and violence do find their way into the hallways and classrooms and onto school grounds. Despite media emphasis on topics such as school shootings, fatal violence at schools is relatively low. Nonfatal crime, however, occurs in far greater numbers, sometimes even more frequently at school than away from school.

Safety is and will continue to be a concern at schools. A rash of school shootings and bomb threats that occurred in the 1990s, and that continue to occur in the 2000s, brought increasing attention to school safety issues and what must be done to protect students; two particularly troubling incidences are the shootings at Colorado's Columbine High School in 1999 and the more recent tragedy on the college campus of Virginia Tech in the spring of 2007, in which a student killed thirty-two people and then himself. Various studies on school violence and crime were issued in the late 1990s and early 2000s as researchers examined past trends and tried to predict patterns for the future. Surveys range from how many children bring weapons to school to how many children are injured in fights, are afraid to go to school, or are subjected to disciplinary actions. Educators, school administrators, parents, and students themselves remain vigilant in striving to make schools safe places where youth are able to learn and prepare for the future.

How much crime and violence exist at schools today? Has it increased or decreased in recent years? What effect did the Columbine High School shootings have on students and public opinion in general? Is there a danger that students, educators, and school officials will underreport school crime and violence to police?

VIOLENT DEATHS AT SCHOOL

During the 2004–05 school year there were forty-eight school-associated violent deaths in elementary and secondary schools, including twenty-one homicides and seven suicides. (See Table 9.1.) The most school-associated deaths (including staff, students, and nonstudents) in any year of the study was fifty-seven, which occurred during both the 1992–93 and 1997–98 school years. Still, the 2004–05 number was significantly higher than the thirty-five deaths in each of the previous two school years.

Between July 1, 1992, and June 30, 2005, some 582 school-associated violent deaths occurred across the United States, including 316 homicides of school-age children. Despite the understandable fear generated by the media coverage of events, the possibility of being shot at school is minimal. As Rachel Dinkes et al. note in Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2006 (December 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/iscs06.pdf), "In each school year, youth were over 50 times more likely to be murdered and almost 150 times more likely to commit suicide when they were away from school than at school." However, Americans were shocked by the rash of school shootings in the 1990s and some were afraid to send their children to school. The shootings at Columbine High School, in particular, weighed heavily on many students' and parents' minds.

Columbine High School

The tragedy began around 11:10 a.m. on April 20, 1999, as the senior Eric David Harris arrived at the student parking lot at Columbine High School in Littleton, a suburb of Denver, Colorado. A short time later, Dylan Bennet Klebold, Harris's friend and classmate, arrived. Carrying two large duffel bags, they walked together to the school cafeteria. Each of the bags contained a twenty-pound propane bomb, which was set to detonate at exactly 11:17 a.m. Harris and Klebold looked for an inconspicuous place to leave their bomb-concealing bags among the hundreds of other backpacks and bags there. After choosing a spot, Harris and Klebold returned to the parking lot to wait for the bombs to detonate.

TABLE 9.1
Number of school-associated violent deaths by location, 1992–2005
Year Total student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deathsa Homicides of youth ages 5-18 Suicides of youth ages 5-18
Homicides at schoolb Total homicidesc Suicides at schoolb Total suicidesd
—Not available.
aSchool-associated violent deaths include a homicide, suicide, legal intervention (involving a law enforcement officer), or unintentional firearm-related death in which the fatal injury occurred on the campus of a functioning elementary or secondary school in the United States, while the victim was on the way to or from regular sessions at school or while the victim was attending or traveling to or from an official school-sponsored event. Victims include students, staff members, and others who are not students, from July 1, 1992, through June 30, 2005.
bYouth ages 5-18 from July 1, 1992, through June 30, 2005.
cYouth ages 5-18 from July 1, 1992, through June 30, 2004.
dYouth ages 5-18 in the calendar year from 1992 to 2003.
eData are preliminary and subject to change.
Notes: "At school" includes on school property, on the way to or from regular sessions at school, and while attending or traveling to or from a school-sponsored event.
Source: Rachel Dinkes et al., "Table 1.1. Number of School-Associated Violent Deaths, Homicides, and Suicides of Youth Ages 5-18, by Location: 1992–2005," in Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2006, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, and U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/iscs06.pdf (accessed March 5, 2007)
1992–9357342,68961,680
1993–9448292,87971,723
1994–9548282,65471,767
1995–9653322,51261,725
1996–9748282,18911,633
1997–9857342,05661,626
1998–9947331,76241,597
1999–2000e36131,53781,415
2000–01e30111,46641,493
2001–02e40161,46861,400
2002–03e35181,51591,331
2003–04e35191,43731,285
2004–05e48217

Part of their plan was aimed at diverting the Littleton Fire Department, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, and other emergency personnel away from the high school as the pair stormed the school. To achieve this, they had planted pipe bombs three miles southwest of the high school set to explode and start grass fires. As the explosions began, Harris and Klebold prepared to reenter the school, this time via the west exterior steps. That location is the highest point on campus and allows a view of the student parking lots and the cafeteria's entrances and exits. Both Harris and Klebold, dressed in black trench coats, concealed 9mm semiautomatic weapons from view. As they approached, the pair pulled out shotguns from a duffel bag and opened fire toward the west doors of the school, killing seventeen-year-old Rachel Scott.

After entering the school, they roamed the halls, library, and cafeteria, among other areas, killing twelve other victims, including a teacher, before finally killing themselves. In the process they also injured twenty-three other students physically and many others emotionally. The details of the event are outlined in The Columbine High School Shootings: Jefferson County Sheriff Department's Investigation Report (May 15, 2000), by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. Since that time, more documents and videotapes have been made available to the victims' families, the media, and others as well.

Investigations after the Columbine shootings focused on incidents in the boys' past that might have indicated the potential for such violent behavior. Among the people most surprised by the shootings were Klebold's family. Tom Klebold, Dylan's father, told investigators that his son had never showed any interest in guns. The Klebolds told authorities that Dylan had been accepted at the University of Arizona and had planned to study computer science. Klebold's friends and teachers described him as a nice, normal teenager. However, authorities also learned that Klebold and Harris were often subjected to harassment and bullying from other students. Much discussion of this fact was reported by the media, which prompted various research organizations to look into the effects of bullying on juveniles. Some wondered if the ridicule from other students had prompted Harris and Klebold to seek revenge.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Investigates School Shooters

Previous school shooting incidents had prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to spend two years researching this phenomenon. In The School Shooter: A Threat Assessment Perspective (1999, http://www.fbi.gov/publications/school/school2.pdf), Mary Ellen O'Toole of the FBI asserts that the profile of a school shooter cannot be determined, nor is it possible to create a checklist of the warning signs indicating the next juvenile who will bring lethal violence to school. O'Toole's intent, however, is to assist school personnel and others in assessing threats and to keep any planned violence from occurring.

O'Toole uses a four-pronged approach in assessing "the totality of the circumstances" known about a student in four major areas: the student's personality, family dynamics, school dynamics, and social dynamics. O'Toole states, "If an act of violence occurs at a school, the school becomes the scene of the crime. As in any violent crime, it is necessary to understand what it is about the school which might have influenced the student's decision to offend there rather than someplace else."

According to O'Toole, the FBI has established the following factors in making this determination:

  • The student's attachment to school: The student appears to be "detached" from school, including other students, teachers, and school activities.
  • Tolerance for disrespectful behavior: The school does little to prevent or punish disrespectful behavior between individual students or groups of students.
  • Inequitable discipline: Discipline is inequitably applied (or has the perception of being inequitably applied) by students and/or staff.
  • Inflexible culture: The school's culture is static, unyielding, and insensitive to changes in society and the changing needs of newer students and staff.
  • Pecking order among students: Certain groups of students are officially or unofficially given more prestige and respect than others.
  • Code of silence: Few students feel they can safely tell teachers or administrators if they are concerned about another student's behavior or attitudes. Little trust exists between students and staff.
  • Unsupervised computer access: Access to computers and the Internet is unsupervised and unmonitored. Students are able to use the school's computers to play violent computer games or to explore inappropriate Web sites, such as those that promote violent hate groups or give instructions for bomb-making.

Despite the factors that might indicate a school would be more likely to be the site of a deadly incident, O'Toole emphasizes again in "School Shootings: What You Should Know" (October 2006, http://www.fbi.gov/page2/oct2006/schoolshootings100606.htm) that there might be nothing that can be done to prevent a violent incident from occurring. However, she states that school personnel should be vigilant, paying attention to students' moods and behaviors and taking all threats seriously.

SECURITY AND DISCIPLINE

After Columbine, as students, teachers, and parents became more worried about school safety, U.S. schools began implementing security measures to try to prevent future violent incidents. According to Dinkes et al., in the 2003–04 school year 83% of public schools locked some doors and monitored unlocked doors during school hours, 98% required visitors to check in, and 1% required students to pass through a metal detector each day. Security cameras were used in monitoring 28% of primary schools, 42% of middle schools, and 60% of secondary schools. More security measures tended to be used in high schools: 13% of all high schools performed random metal detector checks on students, 59% randomly used dogs to detect drugs, and another 28% used other random sweeps to check for drugs. Critics of increased surveillance in schools contend that bullying, stalking, and harassment present the real risk to students and believe that stronger counseling and early intervention programs are urgently needed.

In fact, efforts to decrease violence in schools have had mixed results. Dinkes et al. find that victimizations declined from 73 per 1,000 students in 2003 to 55 per 1,000 students in 2004. However, the number of homicides of youth at school in the 2004–05 school year was actually higher than in 2000–01 (21 and 11, respectively). (See Table 9.1.) In 2004 students were the victims of about 1.4 million nonfatal crimes at school, including 582,800 violent crimes—107,400 of which were serious violent crimes such as rape, sexual assault, and aggravated assault. In addition, 10% of male students and 6% of female students reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property. What follows is a closer look at these statistics.

Disciplinary Problems and Actions

Schools contend with a wide range of disciplinary problems that can affect the safety and positive educational experience of students and staff alike. These include bullying, gang activities, verbal abuse of teachers, disrespectful acts against teachers, widespread disorder in the classroom, cult or extremist group activities, and racial tension. The National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education reviews such disciplinary problems in its School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS). Its 2003–04 survey finds that 27% of public schools experienced problems with student bullying. (See Figure 9.1.) Bullying was a particular problem in middle schools; 42% of middle schools reported bullying was a problem. Undesirable gang activities were a problem in 17% of public schools, and student disrespect for teachers was a problem in 19% of public schools. Gang activities were most prevalent at high schools (41%), whereas disrespect for teachers occurred most often in middle schools (32%).

Student verbal abuse of teachers was reported in 11% of public schools, including 18% of middle schools and 17% of high schools. (See Figure 9.1.) Three percent of public schools reported disciplinary problems with undesirable cult or extremist group activities, and another 3% reported widespread disorder in classrooms. Relatively few public schools (2%) reported problems with student racial tensions.

One of the ways that schools attempt to deal with safety issues is to take serious disciplinary action against students committing crimes and violent acts. Dinkes et al. note that almost half (46%) of public schools took at least one serious disciplinary action against a student in the 2003–04 school year. Three quarters (74%) of these actions involved out-of-school suspensions lasting five days or more, 21% involved transfers to specialized schools, and 5% were removals with no services for the remainder of the school year.

These serious disciplinary actions were taken for a variety of offenses. About a third (32%) of public schools took serious disciplinary actions in response to physical attacks or fights. (See Figure 9.2.) Another 22% took these actions in response to insubordination; 21% were taken in response to the distribution, possession, or use of illegal drugs; and 9% were taken in response to the distribution, possession, or use of alcohol. Another 17% were taken in response to the use or possession of a weapon other than a firearm, and 4% were taken in response to the use or possession of a firearm or explosive device.

NONFATAL CRIMES

Between 1992 and 2004 the rate of nonfatal crimes against students between the ages of twelve and eighteen at school (in the building, on school property, and en route to and from school) has generally declined. (See Figure 9.3.) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) data show that although thefts often occur more frequently at school than they do away from school, the reverse is true of violent crimes, including those that are serious violent crimes, such as sexual assault, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery. In 2004 the number of nonfatal crimes against students at school had decreased to 1,445,800, including 107,400 serious violent crimes. (See Table 9.2.)

Some students are more likely to be victimized at school than are others. In 2004 males experienced a higher rate of crime than females did in general (57 and 52 per 1,000 students, respectively), although females experienced a higher rate of theft (35 per 1,000) than did males (31 per 1,000). (See Table 9.2.) In general, younger students had a higher rate of victimization than did older students; in 2004, 64 per 1,000 students aged twelve to fourteen experienced nonfatal crimes at school, compared with 46 per 1,000 students aged fifteen to eighteen. White students (60 per 1,000) and African-American students (60 per 1,000) were more likely to experience nonfatal crimes at school than were Hispanic students (39 per 1,000).

Physical Fights, Injuries, and Forcible Rape

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—2005," 35.9% of students nationwide reported being in one or more physical fights anywhere—not necessarily at school—during the last twelve months in 2005. (See Table 9.3.) Male students were more likely to report this behavior (43.4%) than female students (28.1%). A higher proportion of African-American students (43.1%) and Hispanic students (41%) acknowledged fighting than did white students (33.1%). The proportions of students fighting, however, decreased as students got older. Ninth graders (43.5%) fought the most, followed by tenth graders (36.6%), eleventh graders (31.6%), and twelfth graders (29.1%).

Dinkes et al. report that whereas 35.9% of students acknowledged physically fighting, only 13.6% of students fought on school property. More male students (18.2%) than female students (8.8%) engaged in fights on school property, and more Hispanic students (18.3%) and African-American students (16.9%) than white students (11.6%) reported this behavior. The incidence of fighting on school grounds decreased by age in a similar pattern to physical fighting in general.

About 3.6% of students noted that they had been injured in a physical fight in 2005 and required treatment by a doctor or nurse one or more times in the last twelve months, including 4.8% of male students and 2.4% of female students. (See Table 9.3.) African-American students (5.4%) and Hispanic students (5.3%) reported a higher percentage of injuries than did white students (2.4%).

More students reported physical injury at the hands of a date than in physical fights. Overall, in 2005, 9.2% of students said that they had been physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend on purpose (hit, slapped, or otherwise physically hurt) one or more times in the last twelve months, including 9.3% of female students and 9% of male students. (See Table 9.3.) African-American students (11.9%) were most likely to be hurt by a dating partner, followed by Hispanic students (9.9%) and white students (8.2%). In "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance," the CDC also finds that the higher the grade level, the higher the percentage of students were getting hurt by a dating partner—7.4% of ninth graders, 8.7% of tenth graders, 9.9% of eleventh graders, and 11.1 % of twelfth graders reported having been intentionally hurt by a dating partner in the past twelve months in 2005.

The CDC asked students if they had ever been forced to have sexual intercourse, or had been forcibly raped. Overall, 7.5% of students acknowledged being forcibly raped—10.8% of female students and 4.2% of male students. (See Table 9.3.) African-American students were the most likely to report being victimized in this way (9.3%), followed by Hispanic students (7.8%) and white students (6.9%). The oldest high schoolers were the most likely to have experienced forced sexual intercourse in the past twelve months (9%), compared with 6.1% of ninth graders. These results highlight the high level of sexual and dating violence experienced by high school students.

Bullies and Bullying

Most people can recall certain individuals or a group of children at school being identified as bullies. Such behaviors are not new to schools. Bullies harass certain kids they know will not fight back, including pushing students against lockers and taking their lunch money or other personal possessions; pulling gags to humiliate others and cause extreme embarrassment; shoving others out of their way; threatening violence or setting up derogatory Web sites about other students; sending threatening or insulting text messages; and disrupting class and making threatening gestures, even toward teachers. Jill F. DeVoe and Sarah Kaffenberger of the American Institutes for Research indicate in Student Reports of Bullying: Results from the 2001 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey (July 2005, http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2005/2005310.pdf) that some studies divide these bullying behaviors into two categories: direct and indirect. Direct bullying behaviors include physical and verbal attacks and harassment. Indirect bullying behaviors include subtle actions that might be hard for those not directly involved to recognize. These would include psychological activities, such as those previously mentioned, as well as obscene gestures, hurtful facial expressions, and turning friends against each other.

TABLE 9.2
Rate of student-reported nonfatal crimes against students ages 12-18 at school and rate of crimes per 1,000 students, by selected characteristics, 2004
Student characteristic Number of crimes Rate of crimes per 1,000 students
Total Theft Violent Serious violenta Total Theft Violent Serious violenta
!Interpret data with caution.
*Reporting standards not met.
aSerious violent crimes are also included in violent crimes.
bOther includes American Indian, Alaska Native, and Asian or Pacific Islander. Respondents who identified themselves as being of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of their race.
Notes: Serious violent crimes include rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes include serious violent crimes and simple assault. Total crimes include violent crimes and theft. "At school" includes inside the school building, on school property, or on the way to or from school. Population size for students ages 12-18 is 26,372,000 in 2004. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding and missing data on student characteristics. Estimates of number of crimes are rounded to the nearest 100.
Source: Rachel Dinkes et al., "Table 2.2. Number of Student-Reported Nonfatal Crimes against Students Ages 12-18 at School and Rate of Crimes per 1,000 Students, by Selected Student Characteristics: 2004," in Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2006, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, and U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/iscs06.pdf (accessed March 5, 2007)
At school
    Total 1,445,800 863,000 582,800 107,400 55 33 22 4
Sex
Male776,800416,400360,400 58,8005731274
Female669,000446,600222,400 48,7005235174
Age
12-14812,200433,200379,000 65,0006434305
15-18633,600429,800203,800 42,400!4631153!
Race/ethnicityb
White951,700550,000401,700 77,8006035255
Black236,600132,400104,200 17,300!6034264!
Hispanic194,900133,700 61,200     *392712*
Other62,60046,900 15,700!     *382910!*
Urbanicity
Urban443,600239,700203,900 41,400!6233286!
Suburban745,600488,800256,800 55,2005133174
Rural256,600134,500122,100     *573027*
Household income
Less than $15,000103,90037,500 66,400     *451629*
$15,000-29,999154,40077,400 77,000     *412121*
$30,000-49,999238,100152,500 85,600     *503218*
$50,000-74,999346,000178,900167,00033,400!8444418!
$75,000 or more397,200281,700115,50026,800!6244184!

During the late 1990s bullying at schools became a major issue of concern for parents, educators, police, lawmakers, and students as increasing numbers of people perceived that bullying had become more aggressive and hurtful. In addition, a rash of school shootings shocked the nation in the 1990s. Many of the school shooters, mainly middle school and high school white males, complained of being bullied, victimized, and harassed frequently. They said that they had grown tired of being picked on and struck back. In fact, DeVoe and Kaffenberger find that students who had been bullied were more likely than other students to carry weapons to school (4% and 1%, respectively). However, most of the victims of school shootings are not the bullies who have harassed the shooters, but average students caught in the cross fire of angry classmates.

DEFINITION AND CHARACTERISTICS OF BULLYING

In Educational Forum on Adolescent Health: Youth Bullying (May 3, 2002, http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/39/youthbullying.pdf), Missy Fleming and Kelly J. Towey of the American Medical Association explain that bullies are most often males, although girls do engage in bullying behaviors as well. Boys are most likely to use physical and verbal abuse, frequently on a one-on-one basis. Girls typically use verbal and psychological tactics. Female bullies often refrain from one-on-one contact, preferring to work in groups. This might include circulating a "slam book" about another person, which is a notebook containing derogatory remarks about the victim written by the bullying group, or e-mailing embarrassing pictures taken by cell phones in locker rooms to a large group of girls. Male victims of bullying are typically bullied by other males, but female victims may be bullied by either male or female students. In some instances mixed groups will work together to harass other kids.

TABLE 9.3
Percentage of high school students who experienced violence through a physical fight, dating, or forced sexual intercourse, by sex, race/ethnicity, and grade, 2005
Category In a physical fighta Injured in a physical fighta, b Dating violenced Forced to have sexual intercoursee
Female Male Total Female Male Total Female Male Total Female Male Total
% % % % % % % % % % % %
aOne or more times during the 12 months preceding the survey.
bInjuries had to be treated by a doctor or nurse.
cNon-Hispanic.
dHit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend during the 12 months preceding the survey.
eWhen they did not want to.
Source: Adapted from "Table 8. Percentage of High School Students Who Were in a Physical Fight and Who Were Injured in a Physical Fight, by Sex, Race/Ethnicity, and Grade," and "Table 10. Percentage of High School Students Who Experienced Dating Violence and Who Were Ever Physically Forced to Have Sexual Intercourse, by Sex, Race/Ethnicity, and Grade," in "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2005," Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, vol. 55, no. SS-5, June 9, 2006, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS5505.pdf (accessed February 25, 2007)
Race/ethnicity
Whitec24.741.233.11.73.12.48.58.08.210.83.16.9
Blackc37.748.943.13.57.45.412.011.811.911.57.19.3
Hispanic32.549.541.03.27.55.39.010.99.99.46.47.8
Grade
 937.249.643.53.45.84.67.77.07.48.73.56.1
1027.645.236.61.94.33.19.77.88.710.73.87.2
1125.038.231.61.94.03.09.410.49.911.64.27.9
1220.338.029.12.34.23.210.711.411.112.75.39.0
   Total 28.1 43.4 35.9 2.4 4.8 3.6 9.3 9.0 9.2 10.8 4.2 7.5

Fleming and Towey note that bullies look for situations where they can gain power over someone else through intimidation and threats. Sometimes they work alone; other times they work in groups. Some bullies surround themselves with weaker kids who act as henchmen. Bullies seek out situations to harass others in places such as playgrounds and school hallways that are not being supervised by adults. In this way there are no adult witnesses to either stop the act or report it to school authorities.

According to Fleming and Towey, bullies are typically impulsive, have difficulty controlling anger, are easily frustrated, fail to follow rules, and view violence in a positive light. Individual risk factors include a lack of warmth from parents, a lack of parental supervision, and harsh, corporal discipline or child maltreatment. In addition, some schools have higher rates of bullying than do others because there is inadequate adult supervision or because teachers and staff have indifferent or accepting attitudes toward bullying.

In general, Fleming and Towey explain that victims of bullies are passive victims. They are quiet people, cautious, sensitive, and insecure, with few friends to step in and help them out of a bullying situation. They have difficulty standing up to people during confrontations, so bullies perceive them to be safe and easy targets. Male victims tend to be physically smaller and weaker than their peers. Any children who have been victims of child maltreatment are also more likely to be victimized by bullies. However, it is important to note that any student can become a victim of bullying, and the fault lies with the bully, not with the victim.

As the prevalence of bullying increases and more parents and educators grow concerned, various studies are being conducted to learn more about bullies, victims, and the frequency of such occurrences. Dinkes et al. report that in 2005, 28.1% of twelve- to eighteen-year-olds reported being bullied at school during the previous six months—27.1% of males and 29.2% of females. (See Table 9.4.) According to DeVoe and Kaffenberger, bullying appears to be on the rise; four years earlier, in 2001, only 14% of twelve- to eighteen-year-olds reported being bullied at school during the previous six months.

TABLE 9.4
Percentage of students ages 12-18 who reported being bullied at school during the previous 6 months, by location, injury, and selected student and school characteristics, 2005
Student or school characteristic Total Location of bullying Students who were injureda
Inside school Outside on school grounds School bus Somewhere else
!Interpret data with caution.
‡Reporting standards not met.
aInjury includes bruises or swelling; cuts, scratches, or scrapes; black eye or bloody nose; teeth chipped or knocked out; broken bones or internal injuries; knocked unconscious; or other injuries. Only students who reported that their bullying incident constituted being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on were asked if they suffered injuries as a result of the incident.
bOther includes American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, and more than one race. For this report, non-Hispanic students who identified themselves as more than one race were included in the other category. Respondents who identified themselves as being of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of their race.
Notes: "At school" includes the school building, on school property, on a school bus, or going to and from school. In 2005, the unit response rate for this survey did not meet National Center Education Statistics standards; therefore, interpret the data with caution. Population size for students ages 12-18 is 25,811,000 in 2005. Location totals may sum to more than 100 because students could have been bullied in more than one location.
Source: Rachel Dinkes et al., "Table 11.2. Percentage of Students Ages 12-18 Who Reported Being Bullied at School during the Previous 6 Months, by Location of Bullying, Injury, and Selected Student and School Characteristics: 2005," in Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2006, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, and U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/iscs06.pdf (accessed March 5, 2007)
   Total 28.1 79.0 27.8  8.1 4.9 24.0
Sex
Male27.177.628.5 8.74.430.6
Female29.280.427.0 7.55.317.7
Race/ethnicityb
White30.080.627.9 7.64.724.4
Black28.577.325.210.84.3!25.9
Hispanic22.374.828.7 6.24.821.7
Other24.676.731.2 9.4!7.9!20.8
Grade
 6th36.668.236.9 7.64.7!32.3
 7th35.081.030.014.2 2.931.7
 8th30.479.424.810.4 4.027.0
 9th28.181.728.0 5.1 5.021.0
10th24.980.123.3 5.44.4!21.2
11th23.080.326.9 4.5!7.214.5
12th19.980.024.9 4.4!8.512.7
Urbanicity
Urban26.076.928.4 6.55.423.0
Suburban28.978.528.2 8.95.224.6
Rural29.083.625.7 7.63.0!23.8
Sector
Public28.679.427.5 8.34.924.4
Private22.773.931.5   ‡4.2!18.0

In 2005 white students reported the most problems with bullies (30%). (See Table 9.4.) Hispanic students (22.3%) and African-American students (28.5%) reported slightly less trouble. Reports of being bullied diminished with age; 36.6% of sixth graders but only 19.9% of twelfth graders reported being victimized by bullies.

DeVoe and Kaffenberger present survey results of students aged twelve to eighteen who reported being bullied at school. They find that factors in the school environment affected the incidence of bullying. Students who said there were gangs at school were more likely than other students to report being bullied (21% and 13%, respectively). Likewise, students who reported security guards or police officers in their schools were less likely than other students to report being bullied (13% and 16%, respectively). Hall monitoring by staff was also associated with fewer students being bullied (14% and 18%, respectively).

EFFECTS OF BULLYING/BEING BULLIED

According to DeVoe and Kaffenberger, bullied students are more likely to engage in a variety of behaviors than students who have not been bullied, including fearing attack, truancy from school or skipping classes, not participating in after school activities, carrying weapons, and engaging in physical fights. Students might be afraid to attend school and practice avoidance behaviors such as finding the shortest routes to school or to different places within the school in an attempt to prevent an attack. Being victimized by a bully may also lead to aggressive and/or antisocial behavior.

In the news release "Bullies, Victims at Risk for Violence and Other Problem Behaviors" (April 14, 2003, http://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/bullies.cfm), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) notes that "both children who bullied and their victims were more likely than youth who had never been involved in bullying to engage in violent behaviors themselves." The NICHD indicates that boys who acknowledged bullying others at school at least once each week had an increased level of carrying a weapon to school in the last month (43.1%), carrying a weapon in general (52.2%), being involved in frequent physical fighting (38.7%), and being injured in fighting (45.7%). Male bullies who attacked their victims away from school were even more likely to engage in these behaviors. The NICHD concludes, "It appears that bullying is not an isolated behavior, but a sign that children may be involved in more violent behaviors."

CYBERBULLIES

In "Bullies Move beyond the Schoolyard" (Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 2006), Justin W. Patchin and Sameer Hinduja report that with the advent of the Internet and the increased use of cell phones among students, bullies have found a new way to taunt their victims: cyberbullying, also called digital bullying or Internet bullying. Instead of abusing their victims at school, on the playground, or en route to and from school, bullies are now able to taunt their victims day and night via today's technology. Victims report receiving hateful and hurtful instant messages, e-mails, and text messages on their cell phones. Use of such technologies allows the perpetrators to be anonymous, if they so choose.

Some students have become the victims of hate-filled Web sites that discuss why the bullies and his or her friends do not like that certain individual. Visitors to such sites are allowed to add their insults and gossip as well. In some instances visitors have rallied to the defense of the victim and slammed the bully. Through the use of picture phones, bullies have even taken sensitive photos of students in locker rooms, in rest rooms, or while being intimidated. Then the bullies pass them around, either via e-mail or on Web sites. Researchers point out that electronic bullying can be done anywhere and does not involve the bully having any personal contact, especially eye contact, with the victim.

Parents experience difficulty in getting the Web sites removed by service providers, who suggest that they are not in the business of censorship and that the content is protected under the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech. Some parents file lawsuits to get the content taken down. Because of their age, bullies often do not realize that they are legally responsible for what they put in print.

In "Research Summary: Cyberbullying Victimization" (2005, http://www.cyberbullying.us/cyberbullying_victimization.pdf), Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin find that 34.4% of adolescent respondents had experienced cyberbullying. More than one out of ten (12.6%) reported they had been physically threatened, and 5% were frightened for their safety as a result. Hinduja and Patchin report that most cyberbullying occurs in chat rooms (55.6%) or through text messaging (48.9%). Victims of cyberbullying reported feeling frustrated, angry, afraid, and sad; only a third (35%) were not bothered by the experience.

PREVENTION PROGRAMS

Schools throughout the country have implemented antibullying programs aimed at bringing the subject out in the open. Antibullying efforts are not only geared toward bullies but also at the students and teachers who do not do enough to stop such aggression from occurring. Some victims claim that there are teachers who allow bullying to occur, even encourage it. Others say they are afraid to tell teachers because the educators just ignore it and tell the victims to toughen up. Still other victims are ashamed that they cannot stop the bullies and will retreat into themselves and internalize it.

One successful antibullying program, the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (June 13, 2005, http://www.clemson.edu/olweus/), teaches students, parents, and school staff to work together to address the issue. By discussing bullying and its effects, people learn the consequences of bullying on individuals and on the school environment. Rules and plans are developed and enforced. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) notes that the Olweus program is successful in elementary and junior high schools. According to the article "New Approach to Combating Bullies" (CBS News, December 10, 2003), the European schools that use the program have cut bullying by 30% to 70%.

Crimes against Teachers

Teachers sometimes fall victim to crimes at school. Jill F. DeVoe et al. report in Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2005 (November 2005, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/iscs05.pdf) that on average, between 1999 and 2003, 183,400 crimes were committed against teachers each year, including 118,800 thefts, 64,600 violent crimes, and 7,400 serious violent crimes. The average annual rate of crimes was 39 per 1,000 teachers, including 25 thefts, 14 violent crimes, and 2 serious violent crimes per 1,000 teachers. Male teachers had a higher annual rate of crime (43 per 1,000) than did female teachers (38 per 1,000).

Proportionally, DeVoe et al. note that white teachers (41 per 1,000) experienced the most victimizations annually in the 1999–2003 period, followed by Hispanic teachers (38 per 1,000) and African-American teachers (24 per 1,000). High school teachers were more likely to be victimized (58 per 1,000) than were middle/junior high school teachers (41 per 1,000) or elementary school teachers (29 per 1,000). Proportionally, teachers at urban schools were far more likely to be victimized (46 per 1,000) than teachers in suburban and rural schools (33 and 31 per 1,000, respectively).

Dinkes et al. report that during the 2003–04 school year, 7% of public school teachers said students from school had threatened them with injury during the last twelve months. However, the rate was far lower at private schools—just 2%. (See Figure 9.4.) Central city public school teachers reported the highest rate of threats (12%), compared with urban fringe (6%) and rural (5%) public school teachers. Dinkes et al. also note that 4% of public school teachers and 2% of private school teachers said they were actually physically attacked by students from school during the twelve months preceding the survey.

Weapons in School

Violence at school makes students feel vulnerable and intimidated. Sometimes it makes them want to carry weapons to school for self-protection. The Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 required states to pass laws forcing school districts to expel any student who brings a firearm to school. Dinkes et al. report that in 2005, 6.5% of high school students reported they had carried a weapon (a gun, knife, or club) on school property in the last thirty days, down from 11.8% of students in 1993 but higher than in 2003. (See Table 9.5.) Dinkes et al. also note that the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon anywhere decreased from 22.1% in 1993 to 17.1% in 2003 before rising again to 18.5% in 2005.

Males were more likely than females to carry weapons on school property in all years reported, moving from a high of 17.9% in 1993 to a low of 8.9% in 2003. They were also most likely to carry weapons anywhere, although this dropped from 34.3% in 1993 to 26.9% in 2003 before rising again to 29.8% in 2005. Females were far less likely than their male peers to carry weapons on school property (5.1% in 1993 and 2.6% in 2005) or anywhere else (9.2% in 1993 and 7.1% in 2005). (See Table 9.5.)

There are various reasons students are carrying fewer weapons to school. Enhanced security measures at school, such as metal detectors and locker searches, added in the wake of the highly publicized school shootings in the 1990s, are partially responsible. Another reason is the stricter punishment given to those found with guns in school. Many schools have adopted zero-tolerance rules, resulting in the immediate expulsion of someone who is found breaking those guidelines.

TABLE 9.5
Percentage of students in grades 9-12 who reported carrying a weapon at least 1 day during the previous 30 days, by selected student characteristics, selected years 1993–2005
Student or school characteristic Anywhere On school property
1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005
—Not available.
!Interpret data with caution.
aAmerican Indian includes Alaska Native, black includes African American, Pacific Islander includes Native Hawaiian, and Hispanic includes Latino. Respondents who identified themselves as being of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of their race.
bThe response categories for race/ethnicity changed in 1999 making comparisons of some categories with earlier years problematic. In 1993, 1995, and 1997, Asian students and Pacific Islander students were not categorized separately and students were not given the option of choosing more than one race.
Notes: "On school property" was not defined for survey respondents. The term "anywhere" is not used in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey questionnaire; students are simply asked how many days they carried a weapon during the past 30 days. Population sizes from the Digest of Education Statistics, 2005 and 2002 for students in grades 9-12 are 13,093,000 students in 1993; 13,697,000 in 1995; 14,272,000 in 1997; 14,623,000 in 1999; 15,061,000 in 2001; 15,723,000 in 2003; and 16,286,000 (projected) in 2005.
Source: Rachel Dinkes et al., "Table 13.1. Percentage of Students in Grades 9-12 Who Reported Carrying a Weapon at Least 1 Day during the Previous 30 Days, by Location and Selected Student and School Characteristics: Various Years, 1993–2005," in Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2006, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, and U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/iscs06.pdf (accessed March 5, 2007)
   Total 22.1 20.0 18.3 17.3 17.4 17.1 18.5 11.8  9.8 8.5  6.9  6.4  6.1  6.5
Sex
Male34.331.127.728.629.326.929.817.914.312.511.010.2 8.910.2
Female9.28.37.06.06.2 6.7 7.1 5.1 4.93.7 2.8 2.9 3.1 2.6
Race/ethnicitya
White20.618.917.016.417.916.718.710.9 9.07.8 6.4 6.1 5.5 6.1
Black28.521.821.717.215.217.316.415.010.39.2 5.0 6.3 6.9 5.1
Hispanic24.424.723.318.716.516.519.013.314.110.4 7.9 6.4 6.0 8.2
Asianbbb13.010.611.6 7.0   b   bb 6.5 7.2 6.6! 2.8!
American Indian34.232.026.221.831.229.325.617.6!13.0!15.911.6!16.412.9 7.2
Pacific Islanderbbb25.317.416.3!20.0!   b   bb 9.310.0! 4.9!15.4!
More than one racebbb22.225.229.826.7   b   bb11.413.213.3!11.9
Grade
9th25.522.622.617.619.818.019.912.610.710.2 7.2 6.7 5.3 6.4
10th21.421.117.418.716.715.919.411.510.47.7 6.6 6.7 6.0 6.9
11th21.520.318.216.116.818.217.111.910.29.4 7.0 6.1 6.6 5.9
12th19.916.115.415.915.115.516.910.8 7.67.0 6.2 6.1 6.4 6.7
Urbanicity
Urban18.715.815.317.0 — — —7.0 7.2 6.0 5.6 —
Suburban16.817.017.416.5 — — —8.7 6.2 6.3 6.4 —
Rural22.322.323.018.9 — — —11.2 9.6 8.3 6.3 —

For some students, obtaining guns is fairly easy. The OJJDP notes that young people attempt various methods to secure guns, including stealing them from cars, houses, apartments, stores and pawnshops, and family members. They also buy guns from family members, drug dealers or addicts, stores, gang members, family friends, and others.

WEAPON USE ON SCHOOL PROPERTY

The percentage of students who report being threatened with or injured by a weapon while at school remained fairly steady between 1993 and 2005. About 7.9% of students in grades nine to twelve reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property within the past twelve months in 2005. (See Table 9.6.) This figure was a slight increase from 1993, when 7.3% of students reported being threatened or injured by a weapon. Between 1993 and 2005 the percentage remained in the 7% to 9% range—no clear pattern of improvement or worsening can be seen.

Male students received considerably more weapons threats and injuries in all years surveyed between 1993 and 2005 than did female students. (See Table 9.6.) Among students from different ethnic and racial backgrounds, the victimization rate was highest among Pacific Islanders in 2005, at 14.5%, down from a high of 24.8% in 2001. Native American students (9.8%) and Hispanic students (9.8%) also had fairly high victimization rates. Asian students were the least likely to be threatened by or injured with a weapon in 2005 (4.6%).

The youngest students were the most likely to report being threatened by or injured with a weapon. More than one out of ten (10.5%) ninth graders reported being threatened or injured with a weapon in 2005, compared with 8.8% of tenth graders, 5.5% of eleventh graders, and 5.8% of twelfth graders. (See Table 9.6.) Similar patterns were observed in other years as well. It may be that younger students are viewed as more vulnerable to intimidation and are therefore more likely to be targets of students carrying weapons.

TABLE 9.6
Percentage of students in grades 9-12 who reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months, by selected student characteristics, selected years 1993–2005
Student or school characteristic 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005
—Not available.
!Interpret data with caution.
aAmerican Indian includes Alaska Native, black includes African American, Pacific Islander includes Native Hawaiian, and Hispanic includes Latino. Respondents who identified themselves as being of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of their race.
bThe response categories for race/ethnicity changed in 1999 making comparisons of some categories with earlier years problematic. In 1993, 1995, and 1997, Asian students and Pacific Islander students were not categorized separately and students were not given the option of choosing more than one race.
Notes: "On school property" was not defined for survey respondents. Population sizes from the Digest of Education Statistics, 2005 and 2002 for students in grades 9-12 are 13,093,000 students in 1993; 13,697,000 in 1995; 14,272,000 in 1997; 14,623,000 in 1999; 15,061,000 in 2001; 15,723,000 in 2003; and 16,286,000 (projected) in 2005.
Source: Rachel Dinkes et al., "Table 4.1. Percentage of Students in Grades 9-12 Who Reported Being Threatened or Injured with a Weapon on School Property during the Previous 12 Months, by Selected Student and School Characteristics: Various Years, 1993–2005," in Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2006, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, and U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/iscs06.pdf (accessed March 5, 2007)
   Total 7.3  8.4  7.4  7.7  8.9 9.2  7.9
Sex
Male9.210.910.2 9.511.511.6 9.7
Female5.4 5.8 4.0 5.8 6.56.5 6.1
Race/ethnicitya
White6.3 7.0 6.2 6.6 8.57.8 7.2
Black11.211.0 9.9 7.6 9.310.9 8.1
Hispanic8.612.4 9.0 9.8 8.99.4 9.8
Asianbbb 7.711.311.5 4.6
American Indian11.711.4!12.5!13.2!15.2!22.1 9.8
Pacific Islanderb   b   b15.624.816.314.5!
More than one raceb   b   b 9.310.318.710.7
Grade
 9th9.4 9.610.110.512.712.110.5
10th7.3 9.6 7.9 8.2 9.19.2 8.8
11th7.3 7.7 5.9 6.1 6.97.3 5.5
12th5.5 6.7 5.8 5.1 5.36.3 5.8
Urbanicity
Urban — 8.7 8.0 9.210.6 —
Suburban — 7.0 7.4 9.08.8 —
Rural — 5.6! 8.3 8.18.2 —

HAZING

Like bullying, hazing involves humiliating someone into doing something that he or she would not do normally. In some instances, the hazing act is silly and harmless. However, in the early twenty-first century, parents and educators have become concerned that hazings are getting more and more aggressive and violent. Such hazings, which often occur as initiations to a school or social club, are considered a "rite of passage" to some, just "horseplay" to others, and degrading and devastating to various victims. Some athletic teams claim that hazing is done to toughen up younger players—to help them bond with the team. But unlike bullying, hazing is often done with the consent of its victims. For example, succumbing to peer pressure and wanting to be part of the group or clique, many students will allow themselves to be subjected to humiliating acts that they don't report.

Hazings, however, can go too far and the victims can be seriously harmed. A few victims have even died. Hazings usually involve older students (veterans) initiating young classmates (newcomers) into the club. The situation can quickly turn violent when the older group gangs up on the younger group, who has no idea what has been planned or what they should expect. Researchers note that students will do things in a mob situation that they would never do on their own.

Several cases of brutal hazings received significant news coverage in 2003, one involving a high school football team and the other concerning senior and junior high school girls. The football incident took place at a training camp over the summer. At camp, several players were allegedly sexually abused with pine cones, golf balls, and broomsticks. Three players were charged in the incident and appeared before a judge, who was to decide if they should stand trial as juveniles or adults. The judge ordered the decision sealed.

The incident involving the teenage school girls occurred in what was supposed to be a "powder puff" football game at a local park. Instead, the younger girls were allegedly beaten, kicked, shoved, and pelted with a variety of objects and liquids, including garbage, mud, paint, animal intestines, feces, and urine. Five girls were taken to the hospital as a result. Fifteen students, who were charged with misdemeanors, were identified through witnesses and a videotape that someone made of the melee. Thirty-two were suspended from school. Although the girls were underage, alcohol was present. Police considered charging some of the girls' parents for providing the alcohol.

More recent incidences of hazing capturing media attention were on college campuses. According to Elaine Corry in "A Fraternity Hazing Gone Wrong" for NPR (November 14, 2005, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5012154), in February 2005 a young man attending Chico State University in California died in a fraternity hazing ritual, where fraternity pledges were forced to do calisthenics in raw sewage while drinking massive quantities of water. The young man died of water intoxication. Felony criminal charges were filed against the fraternity brothers involved in the incident. Other incidences, as reported by StopHazing.org (http://www.stophazing.org/news/index.htm), include a young male student beaten in late 2006 by seven University of South Carolina students who were later arrested, and a 2007 case at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York where six students were hospitalized after being forced to drink dangerously high levels of alcohol in order to join the school's rugby team. Eight RIT rugby players faced misdemeanor charges in the latter incident.

Various researchers contend that hazing incidents are underreported. This occurs for several reasons: 1) The victim believes that hazing is an unpleasant, but a necessary part of joining an organization; 2) the victim is threatened into remaining silent; 3) the victim is ashamed and wants to forget the incident occurred; 4) the victim assumes everyone has to endure such acts; or 5) the victim doesn't want to involve parents, school officials, or police because that would bring more trouble from the hazers. Some school administrators, coaches, and parents also play a role in encouraging students to refrain from reporting the incidents saying that they, too, had to endure such rituals. Many schools, however, are developing antihazing programs. In addition to criminal charges being filed in courts, parents of students victimized by hazings have brought lawsuits against schools and the perpetrators of such events.

AVOIDANCE AND FEAR

Edward Gaughan, Jay D. Cerio, and Robert A. Myers of Alfred University, in Lethal Violence in Schools: A National Study (August 2001, http://www.alfred.edu/teenviolence/), find that concern about violence is prevalent in school. Some 37% of those surveyed believed that there are "kids at my school who I think might shoot someone." According to Gaughan, Cerio, and Myers, "20 percent of respondents have heard rumors that another student plans to shoot someone, and 20 percent have also overheard another student actually talking about shooting someone at school." Another 8% acknowledged wanting to shoot someone at school themselves. Finally, only about half of the survey participants said they would inform an adult if they overheard someone's plans to shoot another person.

TABLE 9.7
Percentage of high school students who did not go to school because of safety concerns, by sex, race/ethnicity, and grade, 2005
Category Did not go to school because of safety concerna
Female Male Total
% % %
aOn ≥ 1 of the 30 days preceding the survey.
bNon-Hispanic.
Source: Adapted from "Table 14. Percentage of High School Students Who Were in a Physical Fight on School Property, Who Did Not Go to School Because They Felt Unsafe at School or on Their Way to or from School, and Who Had Their Property Stolen or Deliberately Damaged on School Property, by Sex, Race/Ethnicity, and Grade," in "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2005," Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, vol. 55, no. SS-5, June 9, 2006, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS5505.pdf (accessed February 25, 2007)
Race/ethnicity
Whiteb4.93.94.4
Blackb9.28.28.7
Hispanic9.710.710.2
Grade
 98.17.37.7
107.35.36.3
114.94.54.7
124.55.14.9
    Total 6.35.76.0

Some students continue to worry about their safety at school. In 2005, 6% of students reported missing one or more days of school in the last thirty days because they believed it was too unsafe at school or going to and from school. (See Table 9.7.) More female students (6.3%) than male students (5.7%) reported this experience. This response to their fear was much higher among Hispanic students (10.2%) and African-American students (8.7%) than it was among white students (4.4%). Younger children reported not going to school because of safety concerns more than did older children; 7.7% of ninth graders, 6.3% of tenth graders, 4.7% of eleventh graders, and 4.9% of twelfth graders reported skipping school because of safety concerns in the previous month.

The NCVS also addresses the issue of fear of attack or harm at school or en route to and from school. Dinkes et al. report that in 2005, 6.2% of students aged twelve to eighteen reported being afraid of attack or harm at school during the previous six months; this was down dramatically from 11.8% of students in 1995. (See Table 9.8.) In 2005 females were slightly more likely to be afraid of harm (6.6%) than were males (5.9%). Hispanic (10.1%) and African-American (9%) students were more likely than white students (4.5%) to feel afraid of attack at school. Younger students were more likely than older students to fear attack or harm at school. Urban students (10.2%) were far more likely than suburban (4.7%) or rural (5.1%) students to report being afraid of attack or harm. Fewer students were afraid of attack or harm away from school than they were at school (5.1% and 6.2%, respectively).

TABLE 9.8
Percentage of students ages 12-18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm during the previous 6 months, by location and selected student characteristics, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2005
Student or school characteristic At school Away from school
1995 1999 2001 2003 2005 1995 1999 2001 2003 2005
—Not available.
!Interpret data with caution.
*Other includes American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, and, from 2003 onward, more than one race. For this report, non-Hispanic students who identified themselves as more than one race were included in the other category. Respondents who identified themselves as being of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of their race. Due to changes in racial/ethnic categories, comparisons of race/ethnicity across years should be made with caution.
Notes: "At school" includes the school building, on school property, on a school bus, and, from 2001 onward, going to and from school. For the 2001 survey, the wording was changed from "attack or harm" to "attack or threat of attack." Includes students who reported that they sometimes or most of the time feared being victimized in this way. Fear of attack away from school was not collected in 1995. In 2005, the unit response rate for this survey did not meet National Center of Education Statistics standards; therefore, interpret the data with caution. Population sizes for students ages 12-18 are 23,325,000 in 1995; 24,614,000 in 1999; 24,315,000 in 2001; 25,684,000 in 2003; and 25,811,000 in 2005.
Source: Rachel Dinkes et al., "Table 16.1. Percentage of Students Ages 12-18 Who Reported Being Afraid of Attack or Harm during the Previous 6 Months, by Location and Selected Student and School Characteristics: Various Years, 1995–2005," in Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2006, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, and U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/iscs06.pdf (accessed March 5, 2007)
   Total 11.8 7.3 6.4 6.1 6.2 5.7 4.6 5.4 5.1
Sex
Male10.86.56.45.35.94.13.74.04.5
Female12.88.26.46.96.67.45.66.85.7
Race/ethnicity*
White8.15.04.94.14.54.33.73.84.2
Black20.313.58.910.79.08.76.310.07.2
Hispanic20.911.710.69.510.18.96.57.46.1
Other13.56.76.45.06.35.46.63.95.9!
Grade
 6th14.310.910.610.09.57.86.36.85.7
 7th15.39.59.28.29.16.15.56.77.5
 8th13.08.17.66.36.95.54.45.34.9
 9th11.67.15.56.35.74.64.54.33.8
10th11.07.15.04.45.34.84.25.34.6
11th8.94.84.84.74.55.94.74.74.1
12th7.84.82.93.73.36.13.34.95.3
Urbanicity
Urban18.411.69.79.510.29.17.48.16.6
Suburban9.86.24.84.84.75.03.84.44.5
Rural8.64.86.04.75.13.03.04.04.6
Sector
Public12.27.76.66.46.55.84.65.45.1
Private7.33.64.63.03.85.05.14.74.7

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT: PERSISTENTLY DANGEROUS SCHOOLS

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was passed by Congress in 2001 and signed into law by President George W. Bush in January 2002. A reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, it mandated sweeping changes to the law defining and regulating the federal government's role in kindergarten through twelfth-grade education. According to the Department of Education (March 6, 2007, http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/states/index.html), the law is based on four basic education reform principles:

  • Better accountability and assessment
  • Flexibility to improve teaching and learning
  • More options for parents via choice and charter schools
  • Increasing the budget

The NCLB requires that schools demonstrate "adequate yearly progress" toward statewide proficiency goals. The schools that fail to improve will receive corrective action and restructuring measures. Reporting of progress is public, so parents can stay informed about their school and school district. Schools that make or exceed adequate yearly progress are eligible for awards. The ultimate goal is that all children will have a quality education by the 2013–14 school year.

Unsafe School Choice Option

Among the various changes that the NCLB requires is a provision mandating that states work on making schools safer. The Department of Education (November 17, 2004, http://www.ed.gov/nclb/freedom/safety/creating.html) notes:

Under Title IV of ESEA as reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act, states are required to establish a uniform management and reporting system to collect information on school safety and drug use among young people. The states must include incident reports by school officials and anonymous student and teacher surveys in the data they collect. This information is to be publicly reported so that parents, school officials and others who are interested have information about any violence and drug use at their schools. They can then assess the problems at their schools and work toward finding solutions. Continual monitoring and reports will track progress over time.

To hold schools accountable for ensuring student safety, the NCLB requires states to create a definition of persistently dangerous schools. States must permit students to have public school choice if their school consistently falls into this category. In addition, student victims of violent crime are also allowed public school choice even if the school is not considered persistently dangerous.

PERSISTENTLY DANGEROUS SCHOOLS: GEORGIA'S EXAMPLE

To illustrate what some states have done to fulfill the NCLB requirements pertaining to persistently dangerous schools, this section focuses on the Georgia Department of Education's (GDOE) efforts. According to the GDOE (2007, http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/aypnclb.aspx?PageReq=About USCO), Georgia defines persistently dangerous schools as:

Any school in which for three consecutive years:

At least 1 student is found by official tribunal action to have violated a school rule related to a violent criminal offense (including aggravated battery, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated sodomy, armed robbery, arson, kidnapping, murder, rape, and voluntary manslaughter) either on campus or at a school-sanctioned event;

At least 2% of the student body or 10 students, whichever is greater, have been found to have violated school rules related to other identified criminal offenses, including non-felony drugs, felony drugs, felony weapons, terroristic threats;

Any combination of [the above]

The GDOE further outlines what happens as a consequence of a school being labeled persistently dangerous:

When a school meets the criteria for three consecutive years, local education agencies (local school districts, herein referred to as LEAs) must within ten school days notify parents of each student attending the school that the state has identified the school as persistently dangerous.

Within 20 school days from the time that the LEA learns that the school has been identified as persistently dangerous, the LEA must give students the opportunity to transfer to a safe public school, including a safe public charter school, within the LEA.

LEAs must adopt a policy that facilitates the transfer of students who are victims of violent criminal offenses. This policy shall provide that the transfer shall occur within ten school days of the commission of the violent criminal offense, and to the extent possible, shall allow victims to transfer to a school that is making adequate yearly progress and has not been identified as being in school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring.

If deemed persistently dangerous, a school will need to show significant improvements to regain its place on the safe school list. Georgia has specific requirements that such schools must follow, which include taking corrective measures. After a year of showing that it is no longer dangerous, a school can reapply to the GDOE. When it filed its report in 2003, the GDOE indicated that no Georgia schools were deemed persistently dangerous.

Reporting Violence and Crime at School

The National School Safety and Security Services, in "School Crime Reporting and School Crime Underreporting" (2007, http://www.schoolsecurity.org/trends/school_crime_reporting.html), notes that the unsafe school requirement of the NCLB concerns some educators, parents, and police. Some believe that schools will be even more hesitant to report crimes so that they will not be labeled as persistently dangerous. They suggest that by falling into this designation, such schools will undoubtedly lose enrollment and school funds. As such, schools may begin to underreport such crimes so that they maintain a clean rating.

The National Association of School Resource Officers asked its members in 2004 what impact the NCLB would have on school administrators reporting school-based crimes, and Kenneth S. Trump reported the findings in School Safety Left Behind? School Safety Threats Grow as Preparedness Stalls and Funding Decreases (February 2005, http://www.schoolsecurity.org/resources/2004%20NASRO%20Survey%20Final%20Report%20NSSSS.pdf). Most of those surveyed (54%) believed it would result in decreased reporting of crimes at schools. The vast majority (86%) said that the number of crimes on school property were underreported to law enforcement.

Dinkes et al. show that many crimes, even violent crimes, committed at school are not reported to the police. During the 2003–04 school year, 81% of public schools experienced one or more violent crimes, but just 44% reported violent crimes to the police. (See Figure 9.5.) Violent incidents included physical attacks, fights with or without weapons, threats of physical violence with or without weapons, rape, sexual battery (other than rape), and robbery with or without weapons. Low-reporting trends also occurred with thefts. Even though 46% of public schools experienced one or more thefts, just 31% reported them to the police.

Proportionally, schools were more likely to report seriously violent incidents to the police, presumably because of the gravity of such offenses. However, even some serious violent crimes were not reported. In the 2003–04 school year, 18% of public schools experienced one or more serious violent crimes, and only 13% reported any serious violent crimes to the police. (See Figure 9.5.)

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Crime and Violence in the Schools." Growing Up: Issues Affecting America's Youth. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. 29 Sep. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Crime and Violence in the Schools." Growing Up: Issues Affecting America's Youth. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. (September 29, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3049400015.html

"Crime and Violence in the Schools." Growing Up: Issues Affecting America's Youth. 2008. Retrieved September 29, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3049400015.html

Facts and information from other sites