These days, students have more to worry about than getting good grades or fitting in with their peers. The sad truth is that crime and violence have become common in schools today. In some cases, schools have even become a place of death, if the recent history of school shootings is anything to go by.
The latest student crime statistics likewise show that students all over the country are exposed to a wider variety of crimes and threats. These statistics can help policymakers and school authorities make more informed decisions and craft more effective solutions to reduce violence and crime in schools.
General Statistics on Student Crime
A 2018 report published jointly by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center of Education Statistics classified school crime into two categories: non-fatal victimizations (rape, teacher and student victimization, bullying, fights, possession of weapons and illegal substances) and violent deaths.
These student crime statistics show that both types of crime continue to run rampant in schools today. These instances of violence and instability may be exacerbated by the fact that 4.5 million children ages three to 17 have been diagnosed with behavioral problems, based on these education statistics.
- In 2017 alone, students ages 12–18 experienced 827,000 non-fatal victimizations at school. (Bureau of Justice, 2017)
- More than 3,434 threats and incidents of violence occurred in American K-12 schools during the 2018–2019 school year. (Educator’s School Safety Network)
- At least 374 incidents of violence were reported in the 2018–2019 school year, an increase of 34%. (Educator’s School Safety Network)
- However, schools experienced a 9.5% decrease in threats in 2018–2019 compared to the previous year. (Educator’s School Safety Network)
- A majority of parents—74%—of children enrolled in elementary and high school think schools have become less safe. (APNORC)
Student Crime Statistics by Location
- Students from urban areas experienced the largest decrease in gang activity at school, from 29% in 2001 to 11% in 2017. (Bureau of Justice, 2017)
- More schools located in towns reported incidents of theft (44%) compared to schools in cities, suburbs, and rural areas. (Youth Today)
- In contrast, more city-based schools reported vandalism (40%) compared to schools in towns, suburbs, and rural areas. (Youth Today)
Source: Educator's School Safety Network
Public Schools vs Private Schools Statistics
Public and private schools are often pitted against each other, not only in terms of quality of education but also concerning school safety. While violence can occur at any type of school, school safety statistics show that private schools often offer more safety to students.
- During the 2017–2018 school year, US public schools experienced an estimated 962,300 violent incidents and 476,100 non-violent incidents. (National Center of Education Statistics)
- Around 71% of public schools experienced at least one violent incident, while 65% of these schools reported at least one nonviolent incident. (National Center of Education Statistics)
- Of the 134 school shootings that occurred from 2000 to 2018, eight occurred in private schools while 122 took place in public schools. (Cato Institute)
- Nearly half of public school students report gang activity at their school, while only 2% of private school students do. (Seattle PI)
Violent Threats and Arrests Statistics
According to these school violence statistics, students today encounter a wide variety of factors that threaten their safety, not just active shooters. For instance, violent events that students experience in school include large-scale student fights, aggressive figures, such as trespassers and disruptive parents, attempted abductions, and assault.
- 18% of violent incidents at schools occurred without a gun. (Educator’s School Safety Network)
- During the 2018–2019 school year, 87% of violent threats came from students, an increase from 81% in the previous school year. (Educator’s School Safety Network)
- The most common threats recorded in the 2018–2019 school year were unspecified threats of violence (47.4%), shooting threats (28.2%), and bomb threats (16.9%). (Educator’s School Safety Network)
- 54% of specified threats were related to a school shooting, while bomb threats accounted for 32% of these threats. (Educator’s School Safety Network)
- Likewise, in 2017, 6% of students in grades 9 to 12 reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months. (NCES, 2017)
- Juvenile arrests for all offenses went down 11% in 2018 compared to juvenile arrests made in 2017. (FBI)
- In 2018, juveniles accounted for 19.7% of arrests for arson. (FBI)
- Moreover, nearly 60% of these juvenile arrests for arson were under the age of 15. (FBI)
- 85% of all violent incidents at schools for the 2018–2019 school year were perpetrated by students. (Educator’s School Safety Network)
- Physical fights among students in the 9th to 12th grade went down from 33% to 24% from 2001 to 2017. (FBI, 2017)
- Generally, fights on school property decreased from 13% to 9% from 2001 to 2017. (FBI, 2017)
- In 2017, 6% of students, ages 12 to 18, were called hate-related words at school. (Bureau of Justice, 2017)
according to tracked data for school year 2018–2019
Source: Educator's School Safety Network Designed by
School Shootings and Gun Violence Statistics
These days, students are no strangers to gun violence. Gun violence affects 3 million students at school each year and it’s just one factor driving student stress statistics to alarming levels.
In 2020, there have been six shooting incidents so far at US schools. The most recent shooting incident involving a student occurred in January in Antioch, California, where a 16-year-old male student was shot and killed in Deer Valley High School.
Aside from incidents with active shooters, students also experience threats of injury from firearms.
- In 2019, the US saw a total of 45 school shootings, averaging almost one school shooting per school week. (CNN)
- Based on publicly available data on school shooting incidents from 1970 to present, 173 school shooters were 17-year-olds. (Center for Homeland Defense and Security)
- American schools experienced 37 active-shooter incidents between 2000 and 2017, an average of two or three incidents per year. (New York Times, 2017)
- According to federal deaths in schools statistics, 67 people have been killed and 86 wounded in school shootings from 2000 to 2017. (New York Times, 2017)
- All 37 active shooters at elementary and secondary schools were male. (NCES)
- Of the 15 shootings at post-secondary institutions as of 2017, 13 of the active shooters were male, and the remaining two were female. (NCES, 2017)
- From 1994 to 2018, 95% of school-associated youth homicides with multiple victims were caused by firearm-related injuries. (CDC)
- Active shooter events account for only 6% of all violent incidents in schools. (Educator’s School Safety Network)
Source: Center for Homeland Defense and Security
Crimes on College Campuses
Thanks to the Clery Act, US colleges and universities receiving financial aid from federal programs must disclose and disseminate a public annual security report to employees and students. This report typically includes statistics on campus crime from the previous three calendar years. Crime figures detailed in the report cover four main categories: criminal offenses, VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) offenses, hate crimes, and arrests and referrals for disciplinary actions.
Under the fourth category, for instance, this annual report must include statistics on drug abuse violations committed by students. These reports are especially important to provide more transparency into college drug abuse statistics today.
Source: Association of American Universities
Preventive Measures for Student Crimes
Due to the high incidence of crime and violence in schools in the US, various organizations have committed to help schools and school systems improve preparedness and overall safety. To achieve these goals, many schools have implemented strategies such as improved student supervision and school hardening, which involves purchasing advanced surveillance equipment and bullet-proofing technologies.
Similarly, implementing preventive measures for on-campus student crime may also put additional pressure on universities to look for alternative funding.
- Some schools (35%) used an out-of-school suspension of at least five days to discipline students found in possession of weapons other than firearms or explosive devices. (NCES)
- More schools located in cities (50%) and suburbs (49%) reported having a threat assessment team for the 2017 to 2018 school year, compared to schools in towns (38%) and rural areas (34%). (NCES)
- 92% of schools have written plans for dealing with scenarios with active shooters. (NCES)
- 35% of charter schools had security personnel present at least once a week, compared to 21% of traditional public schools. (NCES)
- Aside from active shooter events, 4.5% of tracked incidents of gun presence at schools involved shots being fired on school grounds. (Educator’s School Safety Network)
- Meanwhile, 63% of teachers strongly oppose receiving special training to carry guns in school. (Gallup)
- 27% of registered voters in the US strongly support the notion of teachers being equipped with concealed firearms to respond in the event of a school shooting. (Morning Consult)
- The three factors that schools report to have the biggest impact on crime prevention measures were: inadequate funds (36%), lack of alternative placements or programs for disruptive students (34%), and district policies on disciplining special education (19%). (NCES)
Effects of Student Crimes
Crimes in schools have various negative effects, not the least of which is fear in students and teachers and school staff as well. In many cases, student crimes also increase schools’ operating costs, as schools have to allocate funds for protection. Likewise, a high incidence of crime in schools also affects enrollment and teacher retention rates.
Given the impact of these effects on schools, it becomes more important than ever for schools to strengthen safety strategies and implement more effective contingency plans for violent incidents.