Fed Report on School Crime

Through the 2007-08 school year, there were 43 school-associated violent deaths among school-age kids (5-18) on American campuses. During that same time, 85 percent of the campuses reported at least one violent crime, theft, or other crime on campus. That amounted to about two million crimes.

These numbers are from the recently released Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2009 from the U.S. Department of Justice, which provides the most detailed statistical look at crime in the nations schools. The survey indicated that in many cases students suffered more crime on school campuses than when they were away from school. For example, students between 12-18 were victims of 1.5 million nonfatal crimes, (theft plus nonviolent crimes) while at school compared to 1.1 million nonfatal crimes off campus.

The report offers an extensive look at violent and non-violent crimes such as theft, campus bullying, graffiti, alcohol and drug use and students carrying weapons. Compared to the previous school year, the number of crimes reported in the 2008 school year was largely unchanged, except for violent deaths, which were down by nearly 26 percent.

Patrick Fiel, public safety advisor for ADT Security Services and a former head of security for Washington, D.C.’s Public Schools, said the report offered some encouraging signs. Nearly all (99 percent) of schools now require visitors to check-in/sign-in before entering a campus. And 90 percent of schools control access to buildings during school hours.

“These are good starts, but we really should see visitor management systems that provide instant background checks on all visitors,” Fiel said. “And I am disappointed that still just over half (55 percent) of the campuses use security cameras, which serve as excellent tools for deterrence, detection and investigation.”

Overall, he said, the report shows that schools are doing fairly well to stay even with campus crime, but need to increase their security efforts to make a serious dent in the statistics.