One in 10 American public schools experienced serious violence last year that included rape and robbery, said a first-of-its-kind survey released this week by the White House.
The incidence of crime was higher at large schools and at those in urban areas, said the survey, which noted that most public schools reported five or fewer crimes by students during 1997.President Clinton was announcing the findings at a White House event to tout his proposals for more closely tracking disciplinary problems in schools and reducing school violence.
In remarks to education leaders, law enforcement officials and members of Congress, Clinton also was announcing $17.5 million in new financing for school safety projects. The money, from the Justice Department's community policing and school safety program, will pay for anti-crime partnerships among law enforcement agencies, schools and community groups.
School safety is a central feature of Clinton's broader push for education improvements, including national achievement standards, additional federal spending to modernize school buildings and extra money to hire 100,000 more teachers to reduce classroom size.
The survey on school crime was produced by the Education Department's National Center for Education and Statistics and counted only crimes at schools or school-sponsored events that were reported to police.
It was based on responses to questionnaires sent to principals from more than 1,200 elementary, middle and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Among the survey's findings:
- 43 percent of schools reported no incidents of crime in the 1996-97 school year.
- 80 percent of schools reported five or fewer crimes.
- 10 percent of schools reported serious violence crimes. These include an estimated 11,000 physical attacks or fights in which a weapon was used; 7,000 robberies, and 4,000 rapes or other kinds of sexual assault.
- Crime was more common at larger schools. One-third of schools with enrollments of 1,000 or more reported at least one serious violent crime, compared with 4 percent to 9 percent in schools with fewer than 1,000 students.
- Principals rate absenteeism, tardiness and fights as the three most common discipline problems among students.