School violence is a problem in both public and private schools. In this article you can find school violence statistics, more about types of school violence, and causes of school violence. Help prevent and stop school violence.

We like to think of our schools not only as centers of learning but also safe havens where are children are safe and well. Unfortunately, this does not always turn out to be the case.

Types of School Violence

The National Center for Education Statistics has some standard categories for differentiating types of school violence. They include the following:

• Violent Death
• Serious Violent Incident
• Violent Incident
• Theft or Larceny
• Other

Serious violent incidents and violent incidents both include the following:

• rape or attempted rape
• sexual battery other than rape
• physical attack or fight with or without a weapon
• threat of physical attack with or without a weapon
• robbery with or without a weapon

Theft/larceny (by definition, taking items with a value greater than $10 without a personal confrontation) includes:

• pocket picking
• stealing an unattended purse or backpack or taking it without confronting the owner - theft from a building
• theft from a motor vehicle
• theft of motor vehicle parts or accessories
• theft of bicycles,
• theft from vending machines
• other types of thefts

Other incidents include:

• possession of a firearm or explosive device
• possession of a knife or sharp object
• distribution, possession, or use of illegal drugs or alcohol
• vandalism

Discipline problems include:

• bullying
• sexual harassment
• hate crimes
• gang and cult activity

Rates of School Violence

Here are some of the most important facts about school violence from the 2007 report by NCES:

  • Children ages 5-18 were the victims of 1534 homicides in 2004-05, 21 of these at school.
  • There was a sharp decrease in the number of homicides that occurred at schools after the 1998-99 school year, when there were 33, and since then, there have been less than 22 in every year.
  • Students ages 12-18 were the victims of around 1.5 million thefts and violent crimes at school and 1.2 million away from school in 2005.
  • Theft and violent crime victimizing students aged 12-18 at school has been decreasing since 1993 to about half of the 1993 figures in 2005.
  • Four percent of students aged 12-18 reported being the victims of theft, violent incidents, or seriously violent incidents at school in 2005. Most of the crimes were thefts.
  • Eight percent of students in grades 9-12 reported have been threatened or injured with a weapon at school in 2005. Ninth graders were nearly twice as likely to have been threatened or injured as 11-12 graders.
  • In 2003-04 (the most recent year for which the report offers data), 7 percent of teachers reported being threatened with injury by a student and 3 percent reported having been physically attacked.
  • In the 2005-06 school year, it was reported by 24 percent of public schools that there were daily or weekly incidents of bullying and by 18 percent that there were daily or weekly incidents of students displaying disrespect for teachers.
  • Twenty-four percent of students in 2005 reported gangs at their schools and 25 percent reported that drugs were available to them at school

Causes of School Violence

Research reports are divided on the causes of school violence. Some refer to family situations. They say that when students are likely to live in poverty, witness drug abuse at home, have parents arrested and/or sent to prison, etc., then its surprising how many students behave well, rather than that some of them are violent.

Access to weapons seems a clear cut cause or contributor to school violence. Crimes with guns and knives wouldn't take place without the students having access to those weapons.

Media studies are sometimes contradictory, but some show that exposure to either real-world violence or violent live-action television shows or violent cartoons increases children's aggression. Some studies have also implicated violent movies and video games.

The presence of gangs at schools is another element that is presented as a cause for violence. For the U.S. government statistics on school violence, a gang is defined as a loose association of three or more persons who take on signs of a joint identity and individually or collectively engage in violent or other illegal behavior.


National Center for Eduation Statistics: Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2007

Constitutional Rights Foundation

Written by Mary Elizabeth