|New Report: Violent Crimes Decline in Public Schools|
|posted by: Alix | February 23, 2012, 04:30 PM|
Violent crimes in public schools have been a hot topic in the American discourse for years. From Columbine to Virginia Tech, communities have realized that violent incidents can strike anywhere. Just this past January, Education Matters featured a story on the warning signs of school violence for educators. Although violence in schools remains a threat, a new report illustrates that violent crimes in the nation's schools have declined in recent years, while cyber bulling and youth suicides have risen.
According to the report, the number of violent deaths declined to 33 during the 2009-10 school year. While this number may seem high, it is the lowest number on record since the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice began collecting data in 1992. According to the data, during the previous school year, there were 38 deaths linked to public school violence. Similarly, major thefts and nonfatal violent crimes declined from 1.2 million in 2008 to 828,000 in 2010.
The data has given a false sense of security for students and teachers according to Tom Snyder, project director for the National Center for Education Statistics. "Students perceive schools as being safer than they were." Clearly with the rise of new technologies, the statistics have shifted elsewhere.
Among the increases, cyber bullying and suicides among K-12 students outside of school have gone up during the same 20 year time period. And while the proportion of students ages 12 to 18 who reported being bullied at school has declined from 32 to 28 percent, more say they are being cyber bullied, an increase from 4 to 6 percent in the last year.
"The cyber bullying issue has really moved to center stage and that's probably the next major challenge that school officials and others will have to address," said Ron Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center. Stephens went on to speculate that the increase in suicides is certainly related to the increase in cyber bullying.
Still, despite these current numbers, some experts call the reports misleading and not a true indicator of school violence patterns. The data, based on surveys taken by administrators, can be subject to their own interests. "It's underreported," Veronica Joyner, president of Parents United for Better Schools in Philadelphia said. "Many of the administrators will not report serious incidents because it looks like they're not doing their job at the school and that is part of their evaluation."
While the experts debate the true state of school violence, educators play a unique role in preventing violent crimes. According to Robert Cornuke, a former FBI-trained police investigator, teachers should be on the look-out for warning signs. "If a student threatens peers with angry cursing and always blames others, he should be scrutinized. If a student has continual bouts of depression, listens to songs that promote violence, or is infatuated by violent computer games... we should pay close attention to his actions." When in doubt, speak with your administrators about concerns with students. It's possible your interest can prevent a tragedy.
What do you think about the report findings?