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NEWS RELEASES 2004-05 :: NOVEMBER 3, 2004


The 2003-04 Annual Report on School Crime and Violence shows increases in the number of acts reported by local school districts, yet nearly one-half (46 percent) of all schools reported no acts of crime or violence. Another 40 percent of schools reported five or fewer acts.

There were 9,800 reportable acts of crime and violence for a rate of 7.371 acts per 1,000 students statewide. In 2002-03, there were 8,548 reportable acts of crime and violence for a rate of 6.581 per 1,000 students.

State education leaders note that there has been a concerted effort over the past several years to improve reporting by standardizing definitions, clarifying what should be included in the report, providing statewide training, and streamlining the process for submission of data.

State Superintendent Patricia Willoughby said that schools continue to be extremely safe places for young people. "Our number one goal is for public schools to provide a safe teaching and learning environment. This is the first step for helping students achieve their potential. This year's numbers indicate a need for more detailed analysis of the causes behind the increase."

State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee also expressed concern in the increase in school violence numbers. "School safety is a top priority. We know that the best way to address safety issues is with a coordinated effort between educators, parents and the public school community."

The annual report tracks 17 reportable offenses, three of which were added in 2002 by the State Board of Education: bomb threats, possession of alcoholic beverages and burning of school buildings. About 40 percent of all local school systems experienced a decline in the number of reportable offenses, three school systems experienced no change, and 57 percent of school systems experienced an increase.

As in the past, the four most frequently occurring incidents account for most of the reported acts of violence or crime on public school grounds. Accounting for 91 percent of all reported acts are: possession of a controlled substance in violation of law the law (3,848); possession of a weapon excluding firearms and powerful explosives (3,402), possession of an alcoholic beverage (841), and assault on school personnel not resulting in serious injury (834).

Ten categories of incidents actually declined in number of reported acts in 2003-04. The total number of occurrences for each reportable act is listed below. Categories marked with an asterisk experienced an increased in 2003-04.

Possession of a controlled substance in violation of law 3,848*
Possession of a weapon excluding firearms and powerful explosives 3,402*
Possession of alcoholic beverage 841*
Assault on school personnel not resulting in serious injury 834
Assault resulting in serious injury 192
Bomb threat 191
Assault involving use of a weapon 121*
Possession of a firearm or powerful explosives 116*
Sexual assault not involving rape or sexual offense 116
Sexual offense 60
Robbery without a dangerous weapon 47
Burning of school building 24
Taking indecent liberties with a minor 3
Kidnapping 2*
Death by other than natural causes 1*
Rape 1
Robbery with a dangerous weapon 1

As in previous years, the number and frequency of acts is the lowest in elementary schools (grades pre-K-5) and highest at the high school level. There were a total of 9,439 offenders identified in the report whose acts affected 997 victims. Although the number of offenders increased in 2003-04, the number of victims decreased. This decrease is attributed to the increase in the number of certain types of acts, namely possessions.

Charts are attached to provide local school district numbers by incident and act. An incident is defined as the event itself and an act reflects the number of people involved.

For more information, please contact NC DPI's School Improvement Director Marvin Pittman at 919.807.3911, or by email,

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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.