Local News

Educators Vow to Fight Rising Crime, Violence in Durham Schools

Posted December 9, 2007

— Crime and violence in Durham Public Schools increased by more than 12 percent last year, according to a report released last week by the state Department of Public Instruction.

DPS reported 322 crimes, violent acts and other offenses that occurred in the 2006-2007 school year, up from 286 in the 2005-2006 school year. The rate of such offenses per 1,000 students also rose from 9.187 to 10.29.

Administrators expressed concern over the rise and said they will take new initiatives and strengthen existing ones to combat the trend.

"Safety of our students and staff members is the number one priority in Durham Public Schools," Superintendent Carl Harris said in a release.

Officials pointed to three categories that declined: possession of a weapon, down 29 for a total of 131 incidents; possession of a firearm, down one for a total of five incidents; and sexual assault, down two for a total of four incidents.

All other major categories posted increases: assault resulting in serious injury, 11 incidents; assault with a weapon, 17 incidents; assault on school personnel, 20 incidents; bomb threats, 17 incidents; burning of school building, one incident; possession of alcohol, 13 incidents; possession of a controlled substance, 94 incidents; robbery without a dangerous weapon, nine incidents.

Harris said the rise in reported incidents of possession of controlled substance as an example of how enforcement is working.

"An increase in the numbers of controlled substances found is one indication that our safety and security professionals are doing a continually better job where detection is concerned," he said.

Harris asked principals to more actively employ security resources, including use of metal detectors and monitoring of hallways and restrooms while class is in session. Over the coming months, the school system will analyze the data and survey all schools to identify areas needing more support, Harris said.

DPS had already taken some measures to increase school safety this school year, including implementing a district-wide comprehensive discipline plan.

"We must continue to be evermore vigilant in taking measures to ensure the safety of our students and employees," Harris said.

The Positive Behavior Support program – in which a team focuses on improving an individual student's behavior and classroom habits – has been expanded.

Character Education, which aims to teach responsibility and compassion, continued to be in the curriculum. Elementary and middle schoolers are exposed to the Gang Resistance Education and Training Program.

Statewide, the rate of violence and crime at schools per 1,000 students decreased by 0.13 in the 2006-2007 school year. Other major school systems saw increases in crime and discipline problems, including Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools, Johnston County Schools, Orange County Schools and Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools.


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  • frenzeegrrl Dec 10, 2007

    What is really sad about all this is that the good students that want to be there and learn suffer the most.

  • BUCKEYEnNC Dec 10, 2007

    A zero-tolerance policy needs to be in place when it comes to drugs, assault and weapons! You mess up, you're out!

    Raise your kids at home! Kids goes to school to learn!

  • nowon_yuno Dec 10, 2007

    All Durham needs is a few auto plants at it could be Detroit!

  • yougottabekidding Dec 10, 2007

    We do not need Corporal Punishment in our schools, we need Major Pain because we already have General Chaos and the Colonel of Truth has taken a vacation.

    P.S. ryebread, that is sarcasm not meant to be taken as a threat. I am not really endorsing the use of any type of pain in the school system. I am spelling this out so that even you and your CSI loving, engineering degree having self can understand what I was writing.

  • Angry Grrl Dec 9, 2007

    Thanks for sharing those numbers, Durham-Raleigh.

  • playroyzway Dec 9, 2007

    can we end the debate for corporeal punishment in schools? I'm all for cracking down on discipline in the schools, but the idea of bringing back corporeal punishment is ridiculous. It's not used in a majority of homes now, so there's no way it could work in the schools.

  • colliedave Dec 9, 2007

    How about restoring corporal punishment to the school system? But the edjukrats running the system would whine that it would hurt little Jonny's ego. The real problem in the school system is those that run it care more about mainting control than ensuring their students become productive members of society.

  • Durham-Raleigh Dec 9, 2007

    From the N&O: "The rate [of school crime] went up for five school systems in the Triangle. Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools increased to 3.3 from 2.7, Chatham to 6.9 from 5.2, Durham to 10.3 from 9.2, Johnston to 8.5 from 7.1, and Orange to 12.2 from 10.4. The rate went down in Wake, declining tbo 8.9 per 1,000 students from 9.6."

    At the end of the day, there ain't a lot of difference between most of these numbers. Last year Durham's schools had fewer incidents than Wake per capita, but you never heard anything about that.

    Orange Co.'s school crime went up more than Durham's, but you didn't see a story about fighting "Rising Crime, Violence in Orange's Schools."

    Welcome to the WRAL twilight zone.

  • Scarecrow Cow Dec 9, 2007

    Durham residents always complain when people say their city is unsafe, but what else are people supposed to think when reports like this come out every other day?

  • dianadarling Dec 9, 2007

    I have 3 kids in DPS. The problem is that if the principals suspend too many students, the principals are persecuted as targeting a certain segment. So they leave them in school until they are really in trouble and they have reportable incidents. You know you can't have a certain group suspended more than another group even if they cause more of the problem. I will see if my comment makes it up or not. By the way I asked my kids if they felt safe and they all do - all in middle and high school. They said they do not hang around where trouble is.