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Campus Safety

Special Feature

Overview

a picture of a college campus lawn with trees and students and a building in the background

The circumstances that lead to violence in schools are complex and far ranging, often the culmination of months and years of individual experiences.

For victims of violence on campus, the outcomes can be devastating. Those affected by violence in schools have been shown to exhibit loneliness, depression, truancy, poor academic performance, and violent behavior.

Instead, schools should be a safe haven for teaching and learning, free of crime and violence for all students.

According to the BJS Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2019 report, the overall number of reported on-campus crimes at colleges and universities in the United States have dropped since the early 2000s, decreasing by 31 percent between 2001 and 2017.

However, the number of reported forcible sex offenses on college campuses is on the rise, increasing from 2,200 in 2001 to 10,400 in 2017, a 372 percent increase.

Sexual assault on college campuses is a concern for students, policymakers, administrators, and parents. For victims of sexual assault on campus, the devastating effects can last a lifetime. In addition to the immediate trauma, sexual assault victims can suffer from long-term mental health effects that include depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A 2017 report supported by the Office on Violence Against Women presents a campus model to address sexual assault through strengthening victim services, enacting effective strategies for holding offenders accountable, and introducing prevention education and awareness.

To police college campuses, a majority of four-year colleges and universities in the United States use sworn police officers to provide law enforcement services.

Among schools that enrolled more than 2,500 students during the 2011–12 school year, about 75 percent were using armed officers, a seven percent increase from the 2004–05 school year. Nearly all campuses had a mass notification system that used email, text messages, or other methods to alert and instruct students, faculty, and staff in emergency situations.

Additionally, programs such as the BJA-funded National Center for Campus Public Safety exist to support campus officials in creating safer and stronger campus communities.

To learn more about crime and safety on campus, visit the following pages for additional resources from the Office of Justice Programs and other federal sources: