Update: You can see the 1940-1990 chart on page 3 of
Policy Study No. 234, January 1998
School Violence Prevention:
Strategies to Keep Schools Safe (Unabridged)
by Alexander Volokh with Lisa Snell
The topic of school safety has come up in a couple of Facebook threads I follow, which sparked a Google quest for a news story I read at least 10 years ago, reporting that in some urban schools children were developing PTSD from the violence they experienced at school. These children were essentially living in a chronic state of terror.
I haven't been able to track that story down, but I did find a Reason Foundation report on violence in schools (Strategies to Keep Schools Safe) that includes this [now deleted] chart.
And this passage, from the Reason brief, is close to what I recall reading:
Many students believe restrooms are unsafe, and some have persistent health problems because they are afraid to use restrooms. In one elementary school, students watched a lot of television because they were afraid of going outside; the fears they report range from being abducted to being caught in a drive-by shooting. Seventeen percent of those surveyed in a November 1994 Starch Roper poll want to change schools, and 7 percent have stayed home or skipped classes because they are afraid of violence. The Justice Department estimated in 1993 that 160,000 children occasionally miss school because of intimidation or fear of bodily harm.The school-safety issue is one of the reasons I support charter schools. Charters radiate an image of safety and calm -- so much so that when a violent incident occurs inside a charter school, the headline is: Guns in Charter Schools Challenge Perception of Safety. You don't see that headline for an incident of gun violence inside a traditional public school.
Charter schools have also been found to produce higher parent satisfaction (though not in this study), and I think those two findings are likely to be related.
M., the lady who works with Andrew, lives in the Bronx and recently entered her 5-year old in the lottery for charter schools there. I've now forgotten the odds against winning a seat in a charter school (M's family did not win, and her daughter will be entering the regular public schools come fall) but they were huge. I'll ask when I see her again. Chalkbeat says 28%, but I know M. thought they were much lower than that, in part because siblings of children already enrolled take precedence.
Anyway, my point is only that I suspect urban parents choose charter schools much the same way suburban parents choose suburban schools: charters have a reputation for quality, deserved or not, and you can count on your children being safe.
Meanwhile, over in my neck of the woods, an incredible story of a college professor dealing with the threat of violence: Was this student dangerous? by Julie Schumacher