NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Younger Students Becoming More Violent

January 13, 2003

Elementary school principals and safety experts say they are seeing more violence and aggression than ever among their youngest students. Children from kindergarten and first and second grades are said to be launching assaults against their teachers and classmates.

While there are few federal figures available on the subject, state suspension rates for children in the lowest grades testify to the problem.

  • Minnesota schools have suspended nearly 4,000 kindergarteners and first- and second-graders for fighting, disorderly conduct and the like.
  • In Massachusetts, the percentage suspended students in pre-kindergarten through third grade more than doubled between 1995 and 2000 -- even though rates of suspension among high-schoolers dropped in every grade but 12th.
  • In California, the latest figures show that from 1995 to 2001, rates of vandalism and other offenses dropped among elementary school students -- but "crimes against persons," such as assaults, nearly doubled.
  • In 2001-02, schools in Greenville, S.C., suspended 132 first-graders, 75 kindergartners and two pre-schoolers.

Educators blame everything from parents, prenatal medical problems, and an angry society.

Source: Greg Toppo, "School Violence Hits Lower Grades," USA Today, January 13, 2003.

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