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Many Students Give Schools Low Marks on Safety

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More than a third of junior high and high school students think their schools do only a "fair" or "poor" job of protecting their buildings from crime and violence, a national poll out last week has found.

Even more students believe their schools fail to provide adequate safety outside the school building, according to the study, "Violence in America's Public Schools: The Family Perspective."

The survey is part of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company's annual "Survey of the American Teacher" series and elaborates on last year's teacher survey on school violence. Louis Harris & Associates Inc. conducted the new poll last spring, surveying 1,011 parents and 2,578 students.

Over all, 26 percent of students in elementary through high school and 21 percent of the parents said their schools' safety rated fair or poor.

More than four in 10 students from grades 3 through 12 said their schools do a fair or poor job of providing safe grounds outside the building. And more than half of high school and junior high students gave their schools those low marks for keeping grounds safe.

Most students said they do not worry very much or at all about their own safety in school. However, one in five said that they were somewhat or very worried, and that weapons were the greatest concern.

Threats From Guns

While the vast majority of students told the pollsters they have never been threatened with a gun, 5 percent said they had been, at least once. African-American students and those who get poor grades were more likely than other students to have been attacked that way.

More parents than students--two in five--said they worry somewhat or very much about their children's safety in school.

The most successful ways to stop or reduce violence? Suspend or expel students when they are violent and have security guards or police in and around the school, according to the junior and senior high school students.

The violence-prevention technique that drew the worst marks for success from those students was the use of walk-through or hand-held metal detectors.

Students seem more blase than their parents about graffiti or broken doors and windows in school. Two-thirds of parents said it contributes to their concerns about safety, while only 32 percent of students agree.

Four in ten students in grades 7 through 12 said that because of violence or the threat of violence, they do not trust other students. More than half of students who have been the victims of violence said they do not trust their peers.

Copies of the survey are available at no charge by writing MetLife, The American Teacher Survey 1994, P.O. Box 807, Madison Square Station, New York, N.Y. 10159-0807. Telephone orders will not be accepted.

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