Violent Deaths In or Near Schools Are Rare

~But Communities and Schools Must Heed Threats

December 4, 2001 - by Melinda Kitchell Malico

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, and the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Justice shows that while homicides and suicides in or around elementary and secondary schools are rare, such incidents may be preventable if schools and communities acquaint themselves with student behavior that can precede violent events - and take the proper and recommended steps to head off violent incidents.

"These findings verify that our schools are very safe and that few people become homicide victims in or near schools," said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. "But violence can occur in any school and at any grade level, which is why our schools and communities must develop school-safety and emergency plans that cover crime prevention and response."

"Our schools can do many things to keep our children and their teachers safe, including watching for signals that precede violent outbursts, paying close attention to threats, and learning to recognize and respond to bullying behavior."

The study reveals that more than half of all violent incidents recorded in the study occurred after some type of potential signal came from a young person ­ such as a threat, note or journal entry. And students who committed violence were nearly seven times more likely than victims to have expressed suicidal thoughts or plans or actually attempted suicide. The study also confirms a link between bullying victimization and aggressive behavior, with those bullied by their peers found to be at especially high risk for committing violence. Most violent events occurred during times of transition in schools, during morning arrival times, lunch, or at the end of the school day.

According to the study, the rate of school-associated events that resulted in violent deaths decreased significantly since 1992-93, the first year of the initial study. During the same period, the rate of events in which more than one victim was killed increased significantly.

The new report was conceived jointly by the agencies in order to gather and analyze information about the characteristics and incidences of school-associated violent deaths, data that are not routinely reported to state or federal agencies. The CDC and ED produced the first such systematic review of the data in a 1996 report that looked at school years 1992-93 and 1993-94. This study extends and expands on the previous study, examining the school years 1994-95 through 1998-99.

Bill Modzeleski, director of the U.S. Department of Education's Safe and Drug Free Schools Program, co-authored the report.

Cases were identified using two strategies: a systematic search of newspaper and broadcast media databases and the review of a newspaper clipping service and voluntary reports from state and local education agencies. The two-pronged review identified events that were subsequently confirmed as reliable via telephone interviews with law enforcement (in 97 percent of the cases) or schools (78 percent), or excluded during confirmation interviews.

Among the other findings:

253 victims died in 220 school-associated violent death events between 1994-99; among the victims, 68 percent were students, 7.1 percent were faculty or staff, 4.7 percent were family members of students and 11.9 percent were local residents; among the 279 perpetrators, 36.9 percent were students, 25.8 percent were local residents and 17.9 percent were not directly associated with the school or local community; perpetrators were more likely than victims to have a history of criminal charges, be in a gang, associate with high-risk peers, be considered loners, or use alcohol or drugs; the death rate for male students was more than double that of females; and the death rate for non-Hispanic black students was more than triple that of whites.

Resources are available from the U.S. Department of Education at http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/SDFS/

HEAR JARED'S VOICE - PLAY - From an interview with Pasco School District investagators concerning the assault.  This is a recording of a recording and it isn't real clear, but worth the download effort.  Jared had a real mellow voice.     Note: If you have a slow load wav, wait for it to load entirely and then play again from the start.   5 minutes long.

A Congressman speaks out about bullying, and in support of an anti bullying law in Arizona       "The school ground bully has been around for too long.  His entire success at bullying is predicated upon arrogant disregard to simple decency, and a willingness to brutalize an innocent victim simply because the bully is bigger and stronger and others are afraid to intervene.  It is insidious and calls for society and government to intervene decisively.  This bullying bill is a start.  As you deliberate this bill please reflect on the fact that Government's primary purpose for existence is for the protection of its innocent citizens.   ...Then remember your bully as a child."        Congressman Trent Franks (R) Arizona

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