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Office of the Secretary

For Immediate Release October 14, 1998
                           October 14, 1998

On Thursday, October 15, President Clinton, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Vice President Gore will host The White House Conference on School Safety: Causes and Prevention of Youth Violence. The centerpiece of this conference is the first Annual Report on School Safety.

Although schools are generally safer today than they were just a few years ago -- and statistics show that students are safer sitting in a classroom than walking down a street -- there is still much more that we can do to improve school safety and security. In particular, the multiple shootings that took place in schools in Pearl, MS, Paducah, KY, Jonesboro, AK, and Springfield, OR, serve as painful reminders that no community is immune from senseless violence -- and that all communities must do their best to prevent such tragedies from ever occurring. The White House Conference on School Safety: Causes and Prevention of Youth Violence provides an opportunity for Americans to learn more about how they can make their own schools and communities safer.

The Findings of the First Annual Report on School Safety

At the conference, President Clinton, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Vice President Gore will discuss the findings of the first Annual Report on School Safety -- a report intended to give parents, principals and policy makers an accurate, yearly snapshot of the school crime, as well as to provide information on what practical steps they can take to make their schools safer.

Major Findings of the Report:

Students less likely to be victimized but more likely to feel unsafe. Although the number of multiple homicide events at schools has increased since 1993 (from 2 to 6 -- and with 4 times as many victims), the overall school crime rate has actually dropped (from 164 crimes per 1,000 students in 1993 to about 128 such crimes in 1996). However, the percentage of students reporting that they felt unsafe at or on their way to school has increased.

Most schools safer than community at large. While the overall level of school and non-school crime is about the same (about 3 million crimes in each setting), students are more than twice as likely to experience serious violent crime while out of school. And the very worst violent victimizations -- murders and suicides

Serious crime and violence concentrated in a small percentage of schools. Only about 10% of public schools report serious or violent crimes to their local police departments. Nearly half -- or 47% -- of schools report less serious or non-violent crimes to police, and 43% report absolutely no crimes at all.

Violence more likely in larger, urban schools and with older students. One third of large schools (1,000+ students) report serious violent crimes to police, compared with less than one tenth of small schools. Also urban schools are twice as likely as rural schools to report serious violent crimes, and middle and high schools are 4 times more likely than elementary schools to report such crimes.

Fist fights and theft the most common crimes. Overall, physical attacks and fights without weapons are the crimes most often reported to police by middle and high schools. Theft is the most common school crime overall. In 1996, less than 10% of crimes against students were of a serious or violent nature.

Other Important Findings:

Fewer weapons in schools. About 6% of high school seniors -- less than in recent years -- are carrying firearms and other weapons to schools. Also, the percentage of seniors intentionally injured -- with or without weapons -- has not changed significantly over the past 20 years.

Gang presence nearly doubled. Between 1989 and 1995, the percentage of students reporting the presence of street gangs in their schools increased from 15% to 28% -- including large increases at urban, suburban and rural schools.

Violence and drugs linked. Students who reported being the victims of violent crimes at schools were more likely to report the availability of drugs at school. The presence of gangs and guns is also related to school crime and the victimization of students.

Teachers often crime victims. On average, 3% of teachers are the victims of violent crimes, and nearly 5% are the victims of theft at school.