The school year ending now was one of the deadliest in years. Preliminary data show 48 school-related violent deaths from August through June, reports USA Today. That’s more than in the past two school years combined and more than in any year in the past decade. Recent incidents include a suspected murder-suicide involving a cafeteria worker in Salt Lake City and the near-fatal stabbing of a Boston high school senior, whose attacker stabbed himself to death while police pursued him. The 2002-2003 school year saw 16 violent deaths in and around schools, down from 17 the previous year, says National School Safety And Security Services, a Cleveland firm that tracks school violence. That includes any homicide or suicide on school property, on the way to or from school, or while attending or traveling to or from a school-sponsored event. That’s the definition used by the federal government.
Some law enforcement officials and school safety advocates say the focus on terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001, is draining money and attention from efforts to keep schools safe. They are seeing an increase in gang-related school crime that they fear will worsen. “It’s a huge problem,” says criminologist C. Ronald Huff of the University of California-Irvine. He says funding for school-based and community policing is “just being decimated.”