Local News

Report: N.C. School Violence Down

Posted December 5, 2007 3:43 p.m. EST
Updated December 5, 2007 4:04 p.m. EST

— Violence in North Carolina public schools dropped slightly last year, according to a report presented Wednesday to the state Board of Education.

Coincidentally, the report was released the same day that a student was stabbed by a fellow student at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh and a day after a student fight at Dillard Drive Middle School in Cary that school administrators said had gang overtones.

Schools statewide reported 11,013 acts of crime and violence among the public school system's 1.4 million students last year, or 7.77 acts per 1,000 students, the report said. That was down from 7.9 acts per 1,000 students in 2005-06. The total number of violent acts increased by 54.

Forty percent of North Carolina public schools reported no crimes or violent acts last year, while 72 percent reported five or fewer incidents, the report said.

"Quality teachers and strong academics are important to parents, but school safety ranks No. 1," Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee said in a statement. "The State Board of Education has made safe schools one of its strategic priorities, and we will continue to explore programs that have a positive impact on the learning environment for students and the instructional environment for teachers."

Three categories of incidents continues to be responsible for more than 80 percent of all reported offenses: possession of controlled substance, possession of a weapon excluding firearms and powerful explosives and possession of an alcoholic beverage.

Offenses considered violent represented 4 percent of the incidents reported last year.

The number of incidents involving possession of a controlled substance decreased in 2006-07 after increasing during the three previous years, according to the report.

"I want to see similar declines in all reported areas. Principals, teachers, parents and students need to work together to ensure that our classrooms and school campuses are safe, empowering learning communities," State Superintendent of Education June Atkinson said in a statement.

Four other incident types also decreased last year from 2005-06: bomb threat, assault resulting in serious injury, assault involving use of a weapon and taking indecent liberties with a minor.

Possession of a weapon excluding firearms and powerful explosives is the most reported act at the elementary and middle grade levels, while possession of a controlled substance is the most reported act at the high school level, according to the report.