Public opinion on school safety is often shaped by high-profile tragedies. For educators, law enforcement personnel, and others working to keep our schools safe, issues such as crime, bullying, and mental health resources are also important components of school safety planning.
According to the Report on Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2021, criminal victimization of students ages 12-18 – including theft, rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault – has declined since 2009. (Victimization rates dropped from 51 per 1,000 students in 2009 to 30 per 1,000 students in 2019.) Changes to school procedures related to the pandemic coincided with a further 60-percent decrease from 2019 to 2020 in the student victimization rate – down to 11 per 1,000 students in 2020.
In terms of bullying, the report states that during the 2019-20 school year, about 22 percent of students ages 12-18 reported being bullied in school. A higher percentage of female students (25 percent) reported being bullied than male students (19 percent). In 2019, about 16 percent of students in grades 9-12 reported being bullied electronically through texts or social media.
Research supported by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) found that combining mental health and behavioral support services to students in need can be more effective than providing one or both services separately.
Tip lines have become a common option for gathering information on threats to student or school safety. Preliminary findings from several NIJ-funded studies on how schools identify, report, and respond to threats show that tip lines can be a useful violence-prevention tool when coupled with investments in technology, training, and a systematic approach to responding to tips.
SchoolSafety.gov offers actionable recommendations to create a safe and supportive learning environment in which students can thrive and grow. The site covers critical areas of interest for school staff and school district personnel, including mental health, emergency planning, bullying, and cybersecurity.
To help school leaders make decisions when implementing new programs, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Model Programs Guide provides ratings of programs that focus on various aspects of school safety, including bullying, school violence, and school climate (the quality of school life). School-focused programs can be found under most of the topics in this guide.
For more school safety resources, visit the following pages: