Campus Safety

NCES Data Report Increases in K–12 School Shootings, Cyberbullying

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently released a report titled “Report on Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2021” indicating a significant rise in both school shootings and cyberbullying activity during the last decade. The results report a total of 93 school shootings with casualties at both public and private K–12 schools during the 2020–21 academic year, the highest number in a single year since data collection began, according to a news release. It also reported that cyberbullying rates have doubled in the last ten years, with 8 percent reported in 2009–10 versus 16 percent reported in 2020–21.

“Although the rate of nonfatal violent victimization at school for 12- to 18-year-olds was lower in 2019 than in 2009, there were more school shootings with casualties in 2021 than in any other year since data collection began in the early 2000s, increasing from 11 in 2009 to 93 in 2021,” said Peggy G. Carr, NCES Commissioner. “While the lasting impact of these crime and safety issues cannot be measured in statistics alone, these data are valuable to the efforts of our policymakers, school officials, and community members to identify and implement preventive and responsive measures.”

The results report 43 school shootings with death and another 50 with injuries only during the 2020–21 academic year. “According to the report, school shootings are defined as incidents in which a gun is brandished or fired on school property,” according to the news release. “During the coronavirus pandemic, ‘school shootings’ also included those that happened on school property during remote instruction.”

The results did indicate a decline in other discipline issues in public schools between the 2009–10 and 2019–20 school years. Student bullying is reported to have dropped from 23 percent to 15 percent; student sexual harassment of other students from 3 percent to 2 percent; and student harassment of other students based on gender identity or sexual orientation from 3 percent to 2 percent.

In higher education, the results report that on-campus crimes decreased in that same timeframe from 23 per 10,000 full-time students to 18.7. However, the rate of forcible sexual offenses increased from 1.7 per 10,000 students in 2009–10 to 8 per 10,000 in 2019–20.

The report was developed as a joint effort between NCES, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. It covers topics like school shootings, bullying, criminal victimization, disciplinary problems and actions, weapons and fights, availability and student use of drugs and alcohol, security staff presence, student perceptions of personal safety at school and criminal incidents at higher-education institutions. The full report is available on the NCES website.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].