Special Feature: School Safety
Schools across the country are relatively safe places. Today's students are less likely to be threatened or injured with a weapon at school than they were 10 years ago.
But educators and public safety officials continue to be challenged with threats to schools and student safety that come from both adults and minors. Ensuring that schools are safe environments for students requires a shared commitment from states, school boards, and communities.
School officials have become more concerned about student safety, in part as a result of high-profile school shootings. School security measures have increased since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 with nearly 100 percent of schools serving 12- to 18-year-olds using at least one safety or security measure. This includes locked doors, security cameras, hallway supervision, controlled building access, metal detectors, and locker checks. However, school use of these measures varies by factors such as population served and location.
Following the tragedy at Columbine, the Secret Service partnered with the Department of Education on a study that examined 37 incidents of targeted violence at schools. One of the key findings from this study is that prior to most attacks, the student responsible for the attack had informed others of their plans, but those who were told rarely reported their concerns to an adult. This finding highlights the importance of creating safe school climates to increase the likelihood that students will speak up in order to prevent an attack.
Bullying continues to affect a large number of students. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics, 21 percent of students ages 12 to 18 reported being bullied in school.
Often dismissed as "kids being kids," bullying creates a climate of fear in schools, on playgrounds, and in neighborhoods. Victims of bullying suffer from a wide range of psychological and school-related problems, including depression, anxiety, poor school performance, and absenteeism.
To help school leaders make decisions when implementing school safety programs, the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) CrimeSolutions.gov has rated programs that focus on school safety. Additionally, NIJ's Comprehensive School Safety Initiative is a research-focused initiative with the goal of developing knowledge about the root causes of school violence, developing strategies for increasing school safety, and rigorously evaluating these strategies through pilot programs.
To learn more, visit the following pages for information and resources produced or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs and other federal sources: