Data: Schools Have Gotten Safer Over Time

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U.S. schools have significantly increased security measures and preparation for events like school shootings in the last 20 years, the newest federal data show.

Meanwhile, rates of student victimization at school have continued to decline, fewer students have brought weapons to school, and fewer students report fear of harm in school, according to a federal report released late last month.

Fewer students report having access to an unlocked gun in the most recent data, and, contrary to popular perception, rates of violent deaths at school have not trended significantly upward in recent years.

"Our nation's schools should be safe havens for teaching and learning free of crime and violence," says Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2017, an annual report released by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. "Any instance of crime or violence at school not only affects the individuals involved but also may disrupt the educational process and affect bystanders, the school itself, and the surrounding community."

The newly released data take on particular relevance as local, state, and federal policymakers seek to improve school safety following the Feb. 14 shooting in a Parkland, Fla., high school where 17 students and educators were killed.

Since that shooting, newly passed state and federal bills have provided increased funding for violence prevention measures, like training teachers to identify threatening student behavior, and physical school security measures, like metal detectors.

But federal data show many schools are already equipped with such measures, and some safety experts have urged schools to focus instead on prevention and student supports.

President Donald Trump appointed U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to chair a school safety commission that will explore a variety of issues and approaches to school safety.

"While there are positive trends from the annual report on crime and school safety, we know there is more we must do," DeVos said in a statement.

Vol. 37, Issue 26, Page 7

Published in Print: April 11, 2018, as Schools Have Gotten Safer Over Time
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