In the United States, an estimated 50 million students are enrolled in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. Another 15 million students attend colleges and universities across the country. While U.S. schools remain relatively safe, any amount of violence is unacceptable. Children, parents, teachers, and administrators and the public expect schools to be safe havens of learning. Acts of violence disrupt the learning process and have a negative effect on students, the school itself, and the broader community (CDC, 2016).
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2015):
- I n 2014, among students ages 12–18, there were about 850,100 nonfatal victimizations at school, which included 363,700 theft victimizations and 486,400 violent victimizations (simple assault and serious violent victimizations).
- In 2014, students ages 12–18 experienced 33 nonfatal victimizations per 1,000 students at school and 24 per 1,000 students away from school.
- Between 1992 and 2014, the total victimization rate at school declined 82 percent, from 181 victimizations per 1,000 students in 1992 to 33 victimizations per 1,000 students in 2014. The total victimization rate away from school declined 86 percent, from 173 victimizations per 1,000 students in 1992 to 24 victimizations per 1,000 students in 2014.
- In 2014, students residing in rural areas had higher rates of total victimization at school (53 victimizations per 1,000 students) than students residing in suburban areas (28 victimizations per 1,000 students).
Violence in the school impacts students and teachers. Approximately 9% of teachers report that they have been threatened with injury by a student from their school; 5% of school teachers reported that they had been physically attacked by a student from their school (CDC, 2015).
In 2011, 18% of students ages 12–18 reported that gangs were present at their school during the school year (CDC, 2015).
In a 2013 nationally representative sample of youth in grades 9-12 (CDC, 2015):
- 8.1% reported being in a physical fight on school property in the 12 months before the survey.
- 7.1% reported that they did not go to school on one or more days in the 30 days before the survey because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from school.
- 5.2% reported carrying a weapon (gun, knife or club) on school property on one or more days in the 30 days before the survey.
- 6.9% reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property one or more times in the 12 months before the survey.
- 19.6% reported being bullied on school property and 14.8% reported being bullied electronically during the 12 months before the survey.
School associated violent deaths are rare, but do occur (CDC, 2015):
- 11 homicides of school-age youth ages 5 to 18 years occurred at school during the 2010-2011 school year.
- Of all youth homicides, less than 1% occur at school, and this percentage has been relatively stable for the past decade.
In New York State, each school district is required to submit Violent and Disruptive Incident Reports (VADIR) for each school building on an annual basis. The report for 2014-2015 can be found at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/irs/school_safety/school_safety_data_reporting.html.
Results from the 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) (Kann, et al., 2016), an annual survey of high school students conducted by the CDC, indicated that many high school students are engaged in priority health-risk behaviors associated with the leading causes of death among persons aged 10–24 years in the United States.
During the 30 days before the survey,
- 41.5% of high school students nationwide among the 61.3% who drove a car or other vehicle during the 30 days before the survey had texted or e-mailed while driving,
- 32.8% had drunk alcohol, and 21.7% had used marijuana.
During the 12 months before the survey:
- 15.5% had been electronically bullied,
- 20.2% had been bullied on school property, and
- 8.6% had attempted suicide.
Many high school students are engaged in sexual risk behaviors related to unintended pregnancies and STIs, including HIV infection. Nationwide,
- 41.2% of students had ever had sexual intercourse,
- 30.1% had had sexual intercourse during the 3 months before the survey (i.e., currently sexually active), and
- 11.5% had had sexual intercourse with four or more persons during their life.
Among currently sexually active students,
- 56.9% had used a condom during their last sexual intercourse.
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