The Prevalence of Violence in American SchoolsOK, so boiling it down:
Public policy-makers, school administrators, police officials, and parents continue to search for explanations for the targeted violence that occurred at Columbine High School and other schools across the country, and seek assurance that similar incidents will not be repeated at educational institutions in their communities. While the quest for solutions to the problem of targeted school violence is of critical importance, reports from the Department of Education, the Justice Department, and other sources indicate that few children are likely to fall prey to life-threatening violence in school settings.
To put the problem of targeted school-based attacks in context, from 1993 to 1997, the odds that a child in grades 9-12 would be threatened or injured with a weapon in school were 7 to 8 percent, or 1 in 13 or 14; the odds of getting into a physical fight at school were 15 percent, or 1 in 7.7 In contrast, the odds that a child would die in school–by homicide or suicide–are, fortunately, no greater than 1 in 1 million. In 1998, students in grades 9-12 were the victims of 1.6 million thefts and 1.2 million nonfatal violent crimes, while in this same period 60 school-associated violent deaths were reported for this student population.
The findings of the Safe School Initiative’s extensive search for recorded incidents of targeted school-based attacks underscore the rarity of lethal attacks in school settings. The Department of Education reports that nearly 60 million children attend the nation’s 119,000+ schools. The combined efforts of the Secret Service and the Department of Education identified 37 incidents of targeted school-based attacks, committed by 41 individuals over a 25-year period.
Nevertheless, the impact of targeted school-based attacks cannot be measured in statistics alone. While it is clear that other kinds of problems in American schools are far more common than the targeted violence that has taken place in them, the high profile shootings that have occurred in schools over the past decade have resulted in increased fear among students, parents, and educators. School shootings are a rare, but significant, component of the problem of school violence. Each school-based attack has had a tremendous and lasting effect on the school in which it occurred, the surrounding community, and the nation as a whole. In the wake of these attacks, fear of future targeted school violence has become a driving force behind the efforts of school officials, law enforcement professionals, and parents to identify steps that can be taken to prevent incidents of violence in their schools.
Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative: Implications for the Prevention of School Attacks in the United States - 2004
- Odds of a high school student being threatened or injured with a weapon in school: 7 to 8 percent
- Odds of a high school student getting into a physical fight at school: 15 percent
- Odds of high school student being the victim of in-school theft: 2.7 percent
- Odds of a high school student being the victim of a non-fatal violent crime: 2 percent
That number needs to be zero.