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Violence in schools


08/15/18



 

Fred Bramante & Janet Wilson

 Listening to national media after every school shooting, it’s easy to conclude that our schools are dangerous places. This is not entirely accurate. 

In America, violence, especially homicides, including at schools, is drastically down. While this may be comforting to hear, parents who lost their children at Columbine, Sandy Hook or Parkland, Florida, will not be assuaged by statistics. We are not implying that there is no real issue around guns and schools. While there are relatively few homicides, when looking at the data, there are approximately 750,000 incidents of violence in our schools annually.
Since the early 1990s the murder and negligent manslaughter rate in the United States has dropped from 24,700 (1991) to 17,250 (2016), a drop of about 30 percent while the U.S. population increased by 28 percent. This means the murder rate has decreased by over 45 percent. 
Is this drastic reduction reflective of other locations, like schools and the workplace? Here’s some perspective.
In 1993 there were 1,074 homicides in America’s workplaces. In 2016 that number dropped to 500, a reduction of a whopping 53.5 percent while the number of American workers increased by nearly 28 percent. Factoring in population, that is a reduction of 63 percent!
While the killing of even one child is tragic, schools also saw a reduction. From 1992 to 1996, there was an annual average of 51.5 homicides in K-12 schools. From 2011 to 2015, the numbers averaged 48.25, a reduction of less than 6 percent. During the same period, the K-12 school population increased by about 12 percent, therefore decreasing the school homicide rate by 18 percent. 
In 2016, with a total population of 323,000,000, America had 17,250 homicides while the workplace had 500 homicides with a workforce of 151,500,000. Schools had an average of 48.2 murders in the last few years with the school population (students and staff) of about 60,000,000. That means that approximately 1 out of every 18,750 Americans will be murdered this year, compared to 1 of every 303,000 workers, and 1 of every 1,260,000 students and school staff.
In other words, Americans are 16 times less likely to be murdered at work than outside of work and 67 times less likely to be murdered at school. If there is solace to be gained from these statistics, it is in the fact that homicides in schools are rare occurrences. Our job is to eliminate them entirely.
Fred Bramante is a past chairman and member of the N.H. State Board of Education. He speaks and consults on education redesign to regional, state and national organizations.
Janet C. Wilson, M.Ed., ATR, is the owner of Inspired Learning Coaching in Amherst, where she provides education advocacy for differently-abled learners. She can be reached at InspiredLearningLLC.net.





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