Once typically regarded as a very safe place for children, schools have been experiencing an uptick in crime, which the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics recently charted in its "Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2011." The report shows that those earning a criminal justice degree or online criminal justice degree may be increasingly focused on school crime in the future.
The department compiled the report results based on data from the National Crime Victimization Survey, Youth Risk Behavior Survey, School Survey on Crime and Safety, and the School and Staffing Survey. The report examined crimes that occurred in school and as students were en route to or from school.
Among the key findings include that 33 students, staff and non-students were killed in acts of violence from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010. Twenty-five were homicides, five were suicides and three were the result of law enforcement intervention. Also in 2010, 31 percent of students in grades nine to 12 reported being involved in a physical fight anywhere, and 11 percent said they'd been in a fight at school.
The report's numbers are substantial, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are about 50 million students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade across the country.
"While U.S. schools remain relatively safe, any amount of violence is unacceptable," the CDC said on its website. "Parents, teachers and administrators expect schools to be safe havens of learning. Acts of violence can disrupt the learning process and have a negative effect on students, the school itself and the broader community."
School violence typically has been of the physical and verbal kind, but in recent years, cyberbullying has skyrocketed to one of the most frequent forms of abuse. Many children report being harassed on social media websites or sent threatening text messages on their mobile devices.
The BJS study found that 6 percent of students aged 12 to 18 were the victims of cyber-bullying in 2009, with about 3 percent of students saying they received harassing text messages.
"Measuring progress toward safer schools requires establishing good indicators of the current state of school crime and safety across the nation and regularly updating and monitoring these indicators; this is the aim of 'Indicators of School Crime and Safety,'" the study's authors said in the summary.