SCHOOL VIOLENCE NUMBERS RISE SLIGHTLY
The eighth Annual Report on School Crime and Violence indicates that the number of reported incidents increased slightly in the 2000-01 school year, although the number of incidents has remained fairly flat over the past five years with small fluctuations annually.
The number of incidents reported totaled 7,565 or 6.085 acts per 1,000 students. This is up from 7,229 incidents in 1999-2000, or 5.980 incidents per 1,000 students. Five years ago, 1996-97, there were 8,141 reported incidents or 6.724 per 1,000 students.
State Superintendent Mike Ward said that schools generally are very safe places, but that any level of violence or crime is too high.
"Safety has always been a primary goal for schools. In light of the events of Sept. 11, people are especially concerned about security and safety issues, and ensuring that students have a safe and orderly environment for learning is critical in public education," Ward said. "Each year, school staffs are working harder to build that type of environment as a foundation for learning, but these numbers indicate that a great deal of work remains to be done."
State Board of Education Chairman Phillip J. Kirk Jr. said, "This increase is unacceptable. We must work with local schools to make sure that our schools are safe for every child in every school across the state." Kirk added that the increased presence of illegal drugs in schools is of particular concern. "It is imperative that we rid our schools of illegal substances, and we must re-institute the war on drugs throughout society."
Both Ward and Kirk expressed concern that the three highest-incidence acts from the beginning of annual reporting continue to account for 88 percent of all reportable acts. These three acts are Possession of a Weapon, Possession of Controlled Substances and Assault on School Personnel. Possession of a Weapon increased 4 percent between 1999-2000 and 2000-01 to 2,824 incidents. Possession of a Controlled Substance increased 12 percent to 2,803 incidents. Assault on School Personnel decreased 3 percent from 1999-2000 and totaled 1,060 incidents. The decrease in Assaults on School Personnel is the third consecutive annual decrease in this category.
Three crimes that decreased last year exhibited modest increases in 2000-01: possession of a weapon, listed above; assault with serious injury, up 4 percent to 278; and sexual assault, up 8 percent to 206.
On the other hand, two crimes that increased last year exhibited decreases in 2000-01. These were assault with a weapon, which decreased 14 percent in 2000-01 to 134, and sexual offense, which decreased 20 percent to 85. It is positive that these improved numbers involve more serious versions of crimes. For example, one improved number was in the category of sexual offense rather than in the category of sexual assault.
No homicides or deaths by reasons other than natural causes were reported. One rape and two kidnappings were reported.
When schools are considered by grade level, elementary schools reported increases of 12.3 percent in the overall reported crimes. High school incidents increased 5.4 percent, and middle schools posted a smaller increase of 1.5 percent. Given the recent emphasis in schools on recognizing and intervening at the first warning signs of violence and crime, and immediately documenting such acts, it is possible that the increased numbers reflect a more concerted effort to detect and report crimes on school property.
A total of 739 students were victims of school crime or violent acts in 2000-01. At the same time, 1,063 school staff were victims. The number of student victims declined by 8.5 percent and the number of staff victims declined by 6.34 percent over 1999-2000.
A total of 5,664 regular students were reported as offenders, while 2,260 exceptional students were identified as offenders.
Most of the incidents reported were serious enough to report to local law enforcement. The most common consequence of these acts to the offenders was suspension from school for 10 days or less.
Charts are attached to provide local school district numbers by incident type.
For more information, please contact Dr. Elsie Leak, Director, Division of School Improvement, NC Department of Public Instruction, 919.807.3911.
Table 1 Reported Statewide Incidents/Acts by School Levels (pdf, 52kb)
Table 6a Total Number of Incidents/Acts for Each LEA (pdf, 8kb)
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About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.
For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.