How big a problem is crime in schools nationwide?
In 2001, students ages 12 through 18 were victims of about 2 million crimes at school, including about 161,000 serious violent crimes (including rape, sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault). Also in 2001, about 29 percent of students in grades 9 through 12 reported that someone had offered, sold or given them an illegal drug on school property.14 While overall school crime rates have declined over the last few years, violence, gangs and drugs are still present, indicating that more work needs to be done.
How can schools be made safer?
Title IV of No Child Left Behind provides support for programs to prevent violence in and around schools; to prevent the illegal use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco by young people; and to foster a safe and drug-free learning environment that supports academic achievement. Most of the funds are awarded to states, which, in turn, award money to districts and community-based organizations for a wide range of drug- and violence-prevention programs. These programs must address local needs as determined by objective data and be grounded in scientifically based prevention activities. They must also involve parents. The effectiveness of these programs must be measured and evaluated continuously.
What is the Gun-Free Schools Act?
The Gun-Free Schools Act requires each state that receives funds under No Child Left Behind to have in effect a state law requiring districts to expel for at least one year any student who brings a firearm to school or possesses a firearm in school. Additionally, it requires districts receiving funds under NCLB to have a policy requiring referral to the criminal justice or juvenile delinquency system for any student who brings a firearm or other weapon to school. These requirements not only remove potentially dangerous students from the school environment but also provide a deterrent, discouraging other students from bringing firearms to school. Over time, this has the potential to make the school environment safer by reducing the number of firearms present in schools. As teachers and students feel safe in their schools, they can focus on learning.