NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Education Statistics/Heartland Institute

March 19, 2004

The rate of violent crime against students is almost twice as high in public schools as in private schools. Similarly, teachers in public schools are twice as likely as teachers in private schools to be threatened or physically attacked by students. For student and teacher alike, if schools are not safe, they cannot be places of learning, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics.

Their sixth annual report, covering the school year 1999-2000, found:

  • A higher percentage (1.9 percent) of public school students reported they had been victims of violent crime during the previous six months than private school students (1.0 percent).
  • Among public school students aged 12 to 18 year, 21.6 percent (31.9 percent in urban areas) said there were street gangs present at school -- as compared to 4.9 percent (5.0 percent in urban areas) of private school students reporting similar activity.
  • About 10 percent of public school teachers had been threatened with injury as compared to 4 percent of private school teachers.
  • Likewise, 4 percent of public school teachers had been attacked, while this percentage falls to 2 percent among private school teachers.

The researchers found that 22 students nationwide lost their lives in school-associated homicides (16) or suicides (6). But those grievous statistics tell only a small part of the story. Away from school, 2,124 children ages 5 to 19 were homicide victims during school year 1999-2000, and 1,922 children ages 5 to 19 died by suicide during calendar year 2000.

Source: Joe McTighe, "Private Schools Safer for Teachers and Students," Heartland Institute, January 2004; based upon: "Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2003," National Center for Education Statistics, October 2003.

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