School Crime is Down, Suspension Rate Still High

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U.S. schools are safer than they have ever been, and crime in schools has declined during the past two decades, says the recently published federal report “Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2015.” In 2014, students 12 to 18 experienced 33 victimizations per 1,000 students at school, a decline of 82 percent from 181 per 1,000 in 1992. Between the 1999-2000 and 2013-14 school years, the percentage of public school students who reported bullying occurred at school at least once per week decreased from 29 to 16 percent.

The bad news  writes the U.S. Education Department’s David Esquith for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, is that large numbers of students are losing precious instructional time because they are suspended or expelled, especially African-American and Hispanic students. Among ninth-graders in fall 2009, about 19 percent had been suspended or expelled by the spring of their 11th-grade year. African-American and Hispanic students are suspended more often than their peers. In school year 2011-12, 6 percent of all public school students received an out-of-school suspension. The rate for African-American (15 percent) and Hispanic (6 percent) students was higher than it was for other racial or ethnic subgroups, such as white (4 percent) and Asian (1 percent) students. Esquith says the Education and Justice Departments have published information to help states, districts, and schools in developing practices and strategies to enhance school climate, with a goal of reducing the number of suspensions and expulsions. The package is available at http://1.usa.gov/1gDTBlO.

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