Publication Date:

Sep 23, 2018

Key facts about safety at school

• The percentage of youth ages 12 to 18 who feared an attack at school, or on the way to and from school, declined from 12 percent in 1995 to 3 percent in 2015.
• In 2015, Hispanic students were more likely to fear attack at school than non-Hispanic white students (4.8 and 2.8 percent, respectively).
• In 2015, sixth and seventh graders (4.6 and 4.2 percent, respectively) were more likely than their older peers to report fearing for their safety at school or on the way to and from school (2.1 and 2.6 percent, respectively, for tenth and eleventh graders).
• In 2015, students in urban areas (4.0 percent) were slightly more likely to report fearing attacks at school or while traveling to and from school than students in suburban or rural areas (3.1 and 3.0 percent, respectively).

Trends in safety at school

The percentage of youth ages 12 to 18 who feared attack at school, or on their way to and from school, fell by half from 1995 to 2001, from 12 percent to 6 percent. This proportion then remained steady through 2005, before decreasing to 3 percent in 2015 (Appendix 1).

Differences by race and Hispanic origin*

In 2015, a higher percentage of Hispanic students reported fearing attack at school than non-Hispanic white or black students. In 1995, 21 percent of Hispanic and 20 percent of non-Hispanic black youth feared attack, compared with 8 percent of white youth. In 2001, the proportions were 11, 9, and 5 percent, respectively. These proportions decreased to 4.8, 3.4, and 2.8, respectively, in 2015 (Appendix 1).

*Hispanic students may be of any race. However, estimates for white and black students in this report do not include Hispanic students.

Differences by age

In 2015, students in higher grades were less likely than their younger peers to report fearing for their safety at school or on the way to and from school. Two percent of tenth graders and 3 percent of eleventh graders reported fearing for their safety, compared with 4.6 percent of sixth graders and 4.2 percent of seventh graders (Appendix 1).

Differences by location

In 2015, students in urban areas were slightly more likely to report fearing attacks at school or while traveling to and from school (4.0 percent), compared to students in suburban or rural areas (3.1 and 3.0 percent, respectively). However, the difference has declined since 2011, when students in urban areas were twice as likely to report fearing attacks (Appendix 1).

Other estimates

State and local estimates

Estimates for a related indicator (whether a student stayed home from school for at least one day in the last 30 days because he or she felt unsafe at school, or on their way to or from school) are available for selected states and metropolitan areas from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) at https://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline/App/Results.aspx.

Data and appendices

Data source

U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). Digest of Education Statistics: 2016 [Table 230.70] (NCES 2017-094). Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d16/tables/dt16_230.70.asp.

Raw data source

U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey.
http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=dcdetail&iid=245

Appendices

Appendix 1. Percentage of Students Ages 12 to 18 Who Feared Attack or Harm at School or on the Way to and from School: Selected Years, 1995–2015

Background

Definition

Students were asked whether, during the current school year, they had feared being attacked at school or on the way to or from school. Prior to 2007, students were asked if they had feared being attacked at school, or on the way to or from school, in the last six months, but cognitive testing showed results are comparable across all years.

Citation

Child Trends. Unsafe at School. Bethesda, MD: Author. Retrieved from https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/unsafe-at-school.