In 1996, 10 of every 1,000 students ages 12 through 18, or a total of 255,000 children, were victims of serious violent crimes at school or as they traveled to and from it.1 During the 199697 school year, U.S. schools reported 4,000 rapes or other types of sexual battery, 11,000 physical attacks or fights involving the use of weapons, and 7,000 robberies.2
Current research shows a decline in school crime and a reduction in the number of guns being carried to school.3 Despite a recent wave of high-profile incidents of violence committed in schools across the United States, statistics show that violent crime particularly homicideis relatively rare in our schools.4 Although the number of school-based multiple-homicide events has increased, there still is less than one chance in a million of a school-related violent death.5
In 1994, congressional legislation established National Education Goals for public schools across the Nation. Because crime and violence in schools are so disturbing, one of these goals states that by the year 2000, all schools in America will be free of drugs and violence and the unauthorized presence of firearms and alcohol, and offer a disciplined environment that is conducive to learning.6 To achieve this objective, school administrators, parents, criminal justice officials, and community leaders have been called together to develop policies to ensure that every school provides children with a safe and secure place to learn.
State lawmakers have responded by enacting various laws directed at resolving
the multifaceted crime issues in our schools. Legislation establishing
gun-free school safety zones, enhanced penalties for offenses committed
on school grounds, anonymous crime reporting hotlines, and antiviolence
curricula for students and school employees are only a few of the measures
adopted in the quest to reduce school violence and other disruptive acts.