NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 21, 2004

School violence is rampant because little is done to stop it; meanwhile, concerned parents are paying the price, says economist Walter Williams.

Experts have pointed to poverty, single parenthood and discrimination as causes for kids who are out of control in public schools, but Williams lays the problem at the feet of school officials who tolerate violence.

According to the U.S. Department of Education and National Center for Education Statistics:

  • During the 1999-2000 school year, 1,466,000 violent incidents occurred in schools across the country, including rape, sexual battery, robbery, physical attack with or without a weapon, and the threat of physical attack.
  • Most of the violence occurs in inner-city schools; 50 percent of all violent incidents occurred at just 7 percent of the nation's public schools; over 50 percent of the violent incidents considered "serious" occurred in just 2 percent of the public schools.
  • Between 1996 and 2000, teachers were the victims of approximately 1,603,000 non-fatal crimes at school: there were 1,004,000 thefts from teachers and 599,000 incidents of rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault.

Ironically, when parents whose children are victims of violence choose to keep their children home from school, they are often charged with truancy.

In Camden, N.J., more than 100 parents have removed their children from public schools out of concern for their safety. In many cases, parents are unaware that they have the option of transferring their children to another school. In some school districts, such as Camden, the only option is to transfer a child from one bad school to another, say observers.

Source: Walter E. Williams, "School Violence Toleration,", October 13, 2004, and Lisa Snell, "No Way Out," Reason Magazine, October 2004.

For Snell text


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