In the wake of yet another tragedy, the most recent IES report on school crime and safety is a reminder that it gets better, statistically speaking.

Among the highlights:

“Between 2001 and 2017, the overall percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being victimized at school during the previous 6 months decreased (from 6 to 2 percent). During this period, the percentage of students who reported being victimized at school decreased for both male (from 6 to 3 percent) and female (from 5 to 2 percent) students, as well as for White (from 6 to 2 percent), Black (from 6 to 3 percent), and Hispanic (from 5 to 2 percent) students.”

“Between 2001 and 2017, the percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported that gangs were present at their school during the school year decreased overall (from 20 to 9 percent), as well as for students from urban areas (from 29 to 11 percent), suburban areas (from 18 to 8 percent), and rural areas (from 13 to 7 percent).”

“The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been in a physical fight anywhere in the previous 12 months decreased between 2001 and 2017 (from 33 to 24 percent), as did the percentage of students in these grades who reported having been in a physical fight on school property (from 13 to 9 percent).”

“Between 2001 and 2017, the percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school during the school year decreased from 6 percent to 4 percent.”

All good news, which is only slightly dampened by the low-lights:

“During the 2015–16 school year, 43 percent of public school teachers agreed or strongly agreed that student misbehavior interfered with their teaching, and 38 percent agreed or strongly agreed that student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching.”

Tardiness has been increasing inexorably since Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was released on VHS. However, the increase in distracting misbehavior started in 2007–08. And then there’s this:

“The percentage of public school teachers reporting that they had been physically attacked by a student from their school in 2015–16 (6 percent) was higher than in all previous survey years (around 4 percent in each survey year) except in 2011–12, when the percentage was not measurably different from that in 2015–16.”

Anyway, as I was saying, it gets better, assuming you’re not a teacher—or god forbid, a statistic.

SOURCE: “Indicators of School Crime and Safety,” Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education (2019).

David Griffith is a senior research and policy associate at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, where he helps manage a variety of projects in Fordham’s research pipeline. A native of Portland, Oregon, David holds a bachelor’s degree in politics and philosophy from Pomona College and a master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University. Prior to joining Fordham, he worked as a staffer for Congressman Earl Blumenauer…

View Full Bio