The State of Violence in Schools

Incidents Programs
Organizations Studies, Reports, Statistics
Prevention Teaching Students Tolerance

As a teacher, you are probably aware of the state of violence in your school. What may surprise you is that since 1994, the National Crime Victimization Reports indicate that violent crimes within United States Schools have been slowly on the decline. This is largely due to the fact that teacher resources about how to recognize, handle and report violent crimes have been increased ten fold. In many school districts across the US, teachers are required to attend seminars, training, and continuing education to help keep their school system safe. Additionally, teachers have been given more tools for reporting violent crime and consequences for students involved in serious violence have been raised considerably.

Unfortunately, the media paints a dismal picture of the state of violence in schools. However if you take a closer look at statistics from the U.S. Department of Education over the past 15 years, you will notice that efforts to keep schools peaceful have paid off. In 1992, there were 42 homicides in US schools. In 2009, only 1 homicide on schools grounds during school hours was reported. General violent acts in schools have been reduced from 3,284 in 1993 to 1,011 in 2007. Incidences of bullying and gang activity were at all time lows in 2007/2008 and according to surveys, children feel safer at school now than at any time over the past decade. Over the span of 15 years, research indicates that the state of violence in schools is improving. Unfortunately, there are still areas that teachers, administrators, and school personnel need to address.

One area where little improvement has been seen is in the percentage of students who are punished or expelled for bringing weapons or firearms on schools grounds. Children at the high school level are more at risk, and it is estimated that around 9% of all boys and 3% of girls at the secondary level of education are still bringing 'weapons' to school. Because of this, there is still an average of 10 males and 5 females injured at school each year by a classmate's weapon. This number has remained steady over the past 15 years and seems to indicate that despite enhanced teacher resources students are still ignoring disciplinary threats that result to carrying weapons on school grounds.

As a teacher, it is vital to keep your senses open and listen to what is being said in the classroom. For each weapon offense, it is estimated that at least 20 students within the school know prior to an injury that a student at school is carrying the weapon. Every comment made by students should be taken seriously and schools need to remain acutely diligent about thoroughly checking on allegations of weapons at schools. Additionally, providing lesson plans to be utilized within the classroom to help raise awareness for students about the dangers of weapons at school should be consistently offered by teachers and administrators.

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System reports that weapon possession among students at school is often due to bullying or threats that were made on the school grounds. In order to reduce the emergence of violence in schools, students must be taken seriously and parents involved in all disciplinary action that stems from threats, bullying and even school yard discrepancies. By notifying local law enforcement of altercations that occur on school grounds or in the classroom - teachers can become an immeasurable force in helping to reduce crime at school.

The state of violence in schools as reported by varying agencies such as U.S. Department of Education show that effort to raise awareness for teachers and students is having a positive impact on the level of safety at schools. Elementary and Middle School teachers experience 50% less violence as opposed to those working in high school environments. By seeking training materials, adding awareness training, teacher worksheets and incorporating these efforts into the student body even more advances can be experienced.

More Resources On School Violence

  2. Center for the Prevention of School Violence
  3. Coming To Terms with Violence in Our Schools
  4. Keys To Safer Schools
  5. National School Safety Center
  6. School Safety Profiler
  7. Teaching Anger Control Through Teamwork (ACCT)