Highest number of school shootings to date reported in 2020–21, while cyberbullying rates doubled in over a decade
There were a total of 93 school shootings with casualties at public and private elementary and secondary schools during the 2020–21 school year, more than in any other year since data collection began, according to the Report on Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2021. The annual report released this summer by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), within the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), also shows that cyberbullying in public schools increased to 16 percent in 2019–20, versus 8 percent in 2009–10.
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 2000’s, increasing from 11 in 2009 to 93 in 2021. 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.NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr
In the 2020–21 school year, the total of school shooting casualties included 43 school shootings with deaths and 50 school shootings with injuries only. According to the report, school shootings are defined as incidents in which a gun is brandished or fired on school property. During the coronavirus pandemic, “school shootings” also included those that happened on school property during remote instruction.
The incidence of several discipline issues at public schools declined in the decade between the 2009–10 and 2019–20 school years, with lower prevalence of student bullying (15 vs. 23 percent), student sexual harassment of other students (2 vs. 3 percent), and student harassment of other students based on sexual orientation or gender identity (2 vs. 3 percent). In higher education, the rate of criminal incidents on campus declined in that time from 23 per 10,000 full-time-equivalent students to 18.7. The rate of forcible sex offenses on campus increased during that decade from 1.7 per 10,000 students in 2009–10 to 8 per 10,000 students in 2019–20.
The Report on Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2021, which is developed in a joint effort with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), examines topics such as school shootings, criminal victimization, bullying, disciplinary problems and actions, fights, weapons, availability and student use of drugs and alcohol, student perceptions of personal safety at school, the presence of security staff at school, and criminal incidents at postsecondary institutions. This report is a synthesis of key findings from individual school crime and safety indicators, which can be browsed in The Condition of Education Indicator System online. The Report on Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2021 is a compilation of statistical information collected and assembled from other statistical products. For more information on the data sources, visit the NCES website.
NCES plans on releasing new data from the upcoming School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS), the primary source of school-level data on crime and safety for the U.S. Department of Education, which includes a nationally representative cross-sectional survey of about 4,800 public elementary and secondary schools. The survey was released in July.
Criminal victimization experienced by students
Incidents and discipline problems reported by public schools
Discipline, safety, and security practices
Mental health services provided by public schools
Postsecondary campus safety and security
Between 2009 and 2019, the rate of criminal incidents on college campuses decreased from 23.0 to 18.7 incidents per 10,000 full-time-equivalent students. However, the rate of reported forcible sex offenses on campus increased from 1.7 incidents per 10,000 students in 2009 to 8.0 incidents per 10,000 students in 2019.
In 2019, a total of 757 hate crimes were reported on the campuses of postsecondary institutions. More than half of hate crimes at postsecondary institutions were motivated by race or ethnicity.
The full Report on Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2021 may be viewed on the NCES website.