Study Tracks Violent Deaths At School or Related Activities

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Someone dies violently at a school or on a school-related outing an average of once a week in the United States, a federal report says.

Between 1992 and 1994, 105 people died at schools or during school-associated activities, researchers say in the government's first published report on the scope of school-related violent deaths. Eighty percent of those deaths were homicides; the remainder were suicides.

Seventy-six of the victims were students, 12 were school staff members, and the remainder were not associated with the school, according to the study published in the June 12 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Two-thirds of the 105 deaths were traced to personal disagreements or gang activity. And guns were used in 77 percent of the deaths, the report says. The deaths occurred at 101 schools in 25 states and were twice as common in urban schools compared with suburban areas. (See chart, this page).

Less Than 1 Percent

To conduct the three-year study, researchers at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta gathered school crime data from the U.S. Department of Education, the National School Safety Center in Westlake Village, Calif., local police departments, and various information databases.

The researchers found that most of these school-related deaths occurred in a classroom, a school hallway, or a school parking lot rather than off school grounds. The report considers deaths to be school-associated if they occur on a school campus, on the way to or from regular sessions at the school, or traveling to or from an official school-sponsored event.

But the authors emphasize in the study that schools, overall, are one of the least likely places for school-age children to die violently.

Previous studies have reported that teenagers are more likely to die by murder than by any other means. But less than 1 percent of the 6,050 homicides and suicides among 5- to 19-year-olds in 1992 were school-related, the study says.

Even a small number of such incidents is disturbing, William Modzeleski, the director of the safe- and drug-free-schools program at the Education Department and an author of the report, said last week.

"One death in a school is too high," Mr. Modzeleski said. "This is a place where kids are supposed to be safe."

Vol. 15, Issue 39

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