School violence has gotten worse over the past ten years due to a number of factors. The U.S. Department of Education reported in 2012 that nearly 6,300 students were expelled from American schools for carrying firearms in 1997. Of these expulsions, 58% of them were for carrying handguns and 17% were for shotguns. Nationally, from 2004 through the year 2008, there has been an increase in juvenile arrests for murder and manslaughter (non-negligent) of 19%. In 2008, in the U.S. alone, there were 16,270 homicides. One in ten of these were under aged juveniles and over half of these murders were the results of arguments the youths had previously had with their victims. Learn about School Violence Statistics Now!
In 2009, 63 out of every 1,000 school-aged youth in the United States reported being victims of some sort of school violence. Eighty-five percent of public schools reported at least one act of violence or crime-related activity during the 2007-2008 school year. Overall, there some 1.5 million acts of violence related to school campus activity and aimed at school-aged youth, and there were 1.1 million school-aged kids who were victims of violence outside of school.
THE “GANG” FACTOR
There is no doubt that gang violence plays a part in this. About 23% of schools report a gang presence in their school district which they are working daily to eradicate. There also seems to be a strong correlation between inner city schools and a heightened possibility of school violence in areas where gangs are present and active. This involved an increased number of physical threats made by such students, many of which led to actual physical attacks.
HOW BULLYING FITS IN
A good question to ask as we scrutinize this data on school violence is how bullying fits in. Because, whether we want to believe it or not, much of these school violence incidents start with a simple act of bullying. A situation can begin as a bullying incident, then escalate to criminal behavior fairly easily if it is not dealt with adequately or handled right. Often the bully will resort to following the person home from school, writing threatening emails or other messages via text or instant message, or calling them on the phone when they do not want them to.
To see some of the correlation between bullying and school violence, we should look at the statistics on bullying. In 2007, 32% of students (1 in 3) reported being the victim of some type of bullying behavior. Of these, 79% said the bullying incidents occurred at school, 23% on school grounds and 12% on the bus or another location. Of the bullied students, 21% said the bullying involved some sort of ridicule or condescending behavior on the part of the perpetrators. Of the people who were the victims of bullying, 18% said this involved having rumors spread about them. About 11% said they were physically attacked, such as being shoved or pushed, tripped, or other physical aggression. About 9% reported injuries as a result. There are also other results from bullying such as being excluded from sports or other extracurricular activities and 4% were coerced into doing something they didn’t want to do and in some cases their property was intentionally destroyed.
When you stop and look at what this really involves, you can start to pick apart the specific acts and see that they constitute criminal offenses. On the school campus, when kids are younger, we tend to look over such acts and try to work with them in an amicable fashion. We try to communicate to them that we know they are “learning” and give them a chance to improve. There is nothing wrong with this, but the truth is many of these so called bullying behaviors are criminal acts, such as: harassment, stalking, terroristic threatening, criminal mischief, assault, and many more. Depending upon the severity of the actions and the consequences, even a juvenile could be detained by authorities if there is a serious injury, theft, threat, or other crime that occurs either on or off the school campus.
BOYS vs. GIRLS BULLYING STYLES
While both boys and girls are guilty of bullying and aggressive behaviors, there are some specific difference in general in which they bully. Boys tend to be more physically aggressive, such as hitting, punching, kicking, and other physical acts, while girls tend to bully with more social techniques, like ostracizing, social media smear campaigns, gossip and the like. Even though females and males differ in their approach, it should be stressed to both genders that there is no difference in the seriousness of the offenses or how they were carried out in that they are both instances of bullying and cannot be tolerated.
OFF CAMPUS VIOLENCE vs. ON CAMPUS
Another important point to make is that when these bullying acts occur on campus, it is primarily within the jurisdiction of the school. This means that, except in the case of serious acts, the school may handle it according to the circumstances and in the way they see fit. Sometimes all that it requires is a conference with the bully’s parents and victim’s parents to get to the bottom of the problem. But if the acts carry over to “off campus,” such as with following the victim home (stalking behaviors), harassment on the phone or text messaging, etc. then it can become a legal issue rather quickly. Even gossip and rumors can create an issue of slander or libel, which is a serious civil violation when someone’s reputation is called into question or ruined, and they can even seek high civil penalties, including hefty fines for pain and suffering and defamation damage from such acts.
When discussing school violence statistics, we cannot leave out the most applicable kind of bullying that is occurring today: cyber bullying. Around 4% of all students in 2007 reported being bullied and this figure has risen steadily since then. It is estimated in 2014 it will be at least twice this. This type of bullying is increasing daily and is occurring on so many levels due to the instant easy access kids have to media and technology, the vast array of social media, and the way someone can have such anonymity online and often never get caught. Parents and schools needs to be even more proactive into this new form of bullying and criminal acts due to the dangers to the victims and their reputations today. It can also be a legally “grey” area due to the fact that this often occurs off campus and becomes the jurisdiction of law enforcement, rather than schools. However, if the person doing the cyber bullying can be identified, through the use of ISP provider information or parent input, the person can be arrested or questioned by local authorities for the acts, and the school is fully within its rights to report and act on disciplinary policies in such matters.
Making the point with kids both at home and at school that all forms of bullying are plain WRONG will go a long way toward discouraging them. Another thing that needs to be in place is to have active involvement of parents and counselors in a systematic, planned anti-violence campaign at school which honors a “no tolerance” policy on bullying in any form.
OTHER STATISTICS ON SCHOOL VIOLENCE
Racial statistics on school violence and bullying show that a higher percentage of white students (around 34%), reported being bullied at school that Asian students (18%) or Hispanic students (27%). It is important to remember, as alluded to before, that when we think of bullying, we should automatically think of school violence statistics. This is because both bullying and being bullied are commonly associated with violence-related behaviors including fighting, assault, carrying weapons, and murder.
Other statistics we should note are that 2% of students reported some sort of unwanted contact, including being insulted or threatened via instant messaging. Of the students who were cyber bullied, 73% reported that it was an ongoing thing, occurring at least once or twice during a school year, with 21% saying it occurred at least once or twice a month, and 5% reporting such attacks once or twice per week. But perhaps the most interesting and most significant statistic is the fact that only 30% of students who were bullied in any way reported it. And even fewer reported it to school officials if it happened to someone else. With so few people doing nothing when the bullying occurs, it’s no wonder the other statistics are rising.
HOW TO STOP IT-TAKE ACTION NOW!
The key to overcoming such harrowing school violence statistics is to do something. We need to work together to empower schools, kids, teachers, and parents to combat bullying when it occurs and EVERY TIME it occurs. Remember that bullies often test the waters to see how someone will react by bullying someone once to see what happens. If they do not get in trouble, they may come back and bully the person again and the pattern begins the vicious cycle. Tell kids to tell the bully the following statement, “I know what you are doing is bullying me and it is against the school rules. If you bother me again, I am going to report you.” By using the term “bullying,” the bully knows you are aware that what they are doing is wrong and that you have the power to do something about it. As a parent, you can do the same. Call the parents of the bully, call your school counselor, join a parent advocacy group. And return to this site regularly for new information. Together,we CAN win the war on bullying.