State records show that Broward, Fl., high schools are getting safer because of a significant decline in violent acts in the past four years, the Miami Herald says. Yet the number of violent incidents recorded by outside police agencies at high schools is up almost 50 percent since 2001. The disparity raises questions about how school crime data are collected and analyzed. “I do think schools aren’t as safe as they were five or 10 years ago,” said a veteran teacher John Quillen.
A review of school records showed major flaws. One elementary school reported one fight during the 2003-04 school year after more than 200 the previous year. It’s common practice for schools to underreport crime or have inconsistent standards, said William Lassiter of the Raleigh, N.C.-based Center for the Prevention of School Violence. Police statistics can be unreliable because schools may encourage police officers not to make arrests for fear of bad publicity, he said. “There’s no perfect system.”