US School Security Statistics Reviewed

By Carlton Purvis, Published Nov 12, 2013, 12:00am EST

Knowing what security schools used and how those measures have changed over the last decade is quite important, especially given the ongoing concerns about school safety and gun violence. Thankfully a recent 211-page report on school crime and safety report includes statistics on deaths in schools, crimes reported on school grounds, gang activity, alcohol abuse by students and safety and security measures, which will be the focus of this note. 

But first, some eye-opening statistics from the report: 

Violence in Schools

  • 1 crime is reported each year for every 25 students enrolled
  • 85 percent of public schools reported at least one crime in the 2009-2010 school year
  • 74 percent of public schools reported violent crimes. 
  • Students ages 12-18 were the victims in ~1.25 million victimizations, almost half (597,000) were violent (2011 alone).
  • Overall, students were subject to more theft and violent crime at school than they were outside of school.
  • From 2010 to 2011, the crime victimization rate of students went from 35 per 1,000 to 49 per 1,000 and seven percent of students reported being threatened with a weapon on school property.
  • In city schools, 10 percent of teachers said they had been threatened with injury. Five percent reported actually being attacked. 
  • 23 percent of schools report bullying on a daily or weekly basis
  • One in three high school students reported being in a physical fight in the last 12 months. 

Death in Schools 

From 2010-2011 there were 25 non-student associated homicides at schools. Eleven of those deaths were of students between the ages of 5-18

Some Things That Decreased

Still alarming but at least decreasing:

  • Gangs: Schools reporting gangs decreased from 22 percent in 2009 to 19 percent in 2011.
  • Drugs: The number of students who say they were offered drugs at school decreased from 32 percent in 1995 to 26 percent in 2011.
  • The number of students who reported being the target of "hate-related words" decreased from 12 percent in 2001 to 9 percent in 2011.
  • Weapons: From 1993 to 2011 the number of students who said they carried a weapon to school in the last 30 days decreased from 22 to 17 percent. 

Cameras Used the Most in High Schools, Large Schools 

Most schools in the United States have some sort of surveillance system - 61 percent - more than triple that reported having systems at the beginning of the decade, according to latest data from Bureau of Justice Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education.

Surveillance cameras were most likely to be found in highschools, more than 84 percent of them reported having surveillance systems. Eighty-one percent of larger schools, with 1,000 or more students, reported having surveillance systems. And the percent of schools that had cameras stayed about the same from rural areas to cities. See the breakdown below: 

Students Are More Aware of the Cameras Than Before Too

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The Education Department surveyed to gauge students' level of awareness of security measures and found that 77 percent of students say they have security cameras at their schools -- a 70 percent increase since 2009. 

Other Security Practices 

The study also included statistics on what schools are using for security. Adding surveillance systems was the fourth most common school security practice. The most common practice overall was limiting access to websites from school computers, probably because it's one of the easier things to do. The most common physical security practice was controlling access to building during school hours.

Trends in School Security 

The chart below shows the trends in security in school over the years. Since 1999, the use of security cameras has more than tripled (from 19 percent of schools to 61 percent), making it the fasting growing security measure in schools, followed by requiring staff to wear picture IDs.  


This section of the report is a good gauge of where schools are willing to spend money when it comes to security. If they're going to spend on tech, then it's going to be surveillance cameras or mass notification systems over metal detectors. It also shows that some of the more common security measures have more to do with changing behaviors (banning texting, restricting access to websites, controlling building access) than buying new gear.  

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