REPORTED SCHOOL CRIME AND VIOLENCE DROPS IN SIX HIGH-INCIDENCE CATEGORIES
The third annual statewide report on School Violence shows that the number of reported incidents decreased in 8 of 13 categories, with marked decreases in four categories. Overall reported incidents totaled 8,173 for all grade levels for 1995-96 compared to 8,100 for 1994-95.
On a statewide basis 7.152 reportable acts were committed on a per-1,000 student basis, which is equivalent to .71 percent of the year-end reported membership of 1,156,885 students.
The greatest decrease shown in the latest report was possession of a firearm, which has declined by more than 50% since 1993-94, which can be attributed to strengthened laws, policies and interventions, according to Dennis Stacey, chief of the NC Department of Public Instruction's Safe Schools Team.
The six high-incidence categories that showed decreases over the previous year are: assault resulting in serious injury (313 incidents, down from 569); possession of a firearm (206, down from 305); robbery (195, down from 325); sexual assault (190, down from 319); assault with a weapon (161 incidents, down from 241); and sexual offense (146, down from 168). These decreases mostly occurred at the middle school level.
The three most frequently occurring acts continue to be possession of a controlled substance, possession of a weapon (other than a firearm) and assault on a school employee, which together account for 85% of all acts committed, up from 76% the previous year.
Stacey notes that possession of a controlled substance (2,753 reported incidents) has edged out possession of a weapon (2,751) as the act most often reported statewide, and mostly because of increases at the high school level. The number of reported assaults on a school employee for '95-'96 was 1,443.
The annual report on school violence resulted from the Governor's Task Force on School Violence and the Safe Schools Act, passed by the NC General Assembly in 1993. The Safe Schools Act mandates that the State Board of Education issues an annual report, based on reports from all school systems of incidents of specified violence/crime on school property. This third report marks the first time individual schools reported their data; previously, each school district provided only system wide numbers.
Schools are required to report incidents of assault resulting in serious personal injury; assault (not resulting in serious injury) on school officials, employees and volunteers; armed robbery and robbery; assault involving use of a weapon; indecent liberties with a minor; kidnapping; possession of a weapon, a firearm or a controlled substance in violation of the law; rape; sexual assault; sexual offense; and homicide. The report does not include all disruptive, violent or criminal acts. For instance, vandalism and student fights that do not involve serious injury are not included.
"The violence report can help schools plan and direct intervention and prevention efforts more effectively," says Stacey, adding that planning for a safe school should be a part of the School Improvement Plan now required of every school. "This information can also be a rallying point for more multi-agency efforts and collaboration in reducing the incidents of disruption, crime and violence in schools, and creating schools in which people feel safe and secure."
He warned against comparisons among schools or school districts. "A high number of reported incidents, for example, may be indicative of a school or school system that has implemented comprehensive security measures, whereas another school or school system with a low number of reported incidents may not have implemented such measures and is therefore less likely to detect some incidents. Also, interpretation, detection, documentation and reporting of specified acts and incidents continue to vary across schools and school districts.
The report also shows statewide arrests increased by 188 over 1994-95 and represents 30% of all (8,322) reported student offenders, compared to 26% in 1994-95.
In a new analysis of 13 more urbanized school districts, these urban districts showed a greater average number of all reportable acts (9.45 per 1,000 students) than did non-urban districts (6.10 per 1,000 students). Some of the strategies schools reported using to deal with curbing school violence are school check-in policies and procedures; educating students to combat disputes, crime and violence; cooperation with law enforcement; crisis management systems; comprehensive discipline policies and programs; mechanical and human detection or surveillance systems; staff training; and parent involvement.
High schools, compared to elementary and middle schools, are more likely to use portable, two-way voice communication equipment; patrols by law enforcement and staff; improved lighting; school resource officers; and contact of parents of students in trouble.
More common elementary and middle grades strategies include parent involvement in school, and educating students to combat disputes, crime and violence.
(For additional information, contact your local school system, or Dennis Stacey at 919.807.3946.)
|INCIDENT||REPORTED # OF OCCURRENCES|
|Possession of substance||2753||2221||1587|
|Possession of weapon||2751||2660||2302|
|Assault on school employee||1443||1271||873|
|Possession of firearm||206||305||448|
|Assault with weapon||161||241||214|
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.