Why We Do It

Recent statistics tell us that substantial numbers of students are committing suicide, experiencing homelessness and hunger, self-mutilating, and suffering abuse. The Edge is a holistic program reaching out to our youth to break down individual isolation and support educators working to assist students—to help every one of them grow emotionally, thrive socially, graduate, and live a successful life.

The Josephine Institute Center for Youth Ethics has reported that, out of 47,000 high school kids, 47% have been bullied and 50% have been bullies; a significant overlap between the two groups.

The Edge has learned that the answers to problems such as bullying lie with the students themselves. When peer bystanders intervene to stop the victimization, and when bullies begin to exercise empathy, the problems diminish. Many other organizations have developed programs using experienced staff to teach a similar intervention approach, but the vast majorities are prohibitively expensive, and financially strapped school districts simply cannot afford their fees.

The Edge offers, not only a comprehensive program exploring the lives of students, but also provides this community service free of charge to schools, directly benefitting a large number of community schools, and thousands of our kids.

It must be remembered that any instance of crime or violence at school not only affects the individuals involved, but may also disrupt the educational process and affect bystanders, the school itself, and the surrounding community.1

In addition to experiencing loneliness, depression, and adjustment difficulties,2 3 4 5 6 victimized children are more prone to truancy,7 poor academic performance,8 9 dropping out of school,10 11 and violent behaviors.12

Concerns about vulnerability to attacks can detract from a positive school environment13 and classroom disruptions are associated with lower student achievement for the offending student, as well as for that student's classmates.14

For teachers, incidents of victimization may lead to professional disenchantment and even departure from the profession altogether.15 16

The following studies provide the latest glimpse at the depth of our schools’ problems:

Violent School-Associated Deaths

During school year 2009 - 10, there were 1,396 homicides among school-aged youth ages 5 - 18. During calendar year 2010, there were 1,456 suicides of youth ages 5 - 18. (Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2012, Indicator 1)

Nonfatal Student Victimization

In 2011, the National Crime Victimization Survey showed that more victimization was committed against students ages 12 - 18 in school, than away from school. In 2011, students aged 12 - 18 were victims of about 1,246,000 nonfatal victimizations at school, including 648,600 thefts, and 597,500 violent victimizations compared to 965,200 nonfatal victimizations away from school. (Indicator 2)

In the most recent period between 2010 and 2011, total victimization rate against students aged 12 - 18 at school increased from 35 victimizations per 1,000 students to 49 per 1,000, and the rate of theft at school increased from 18 per 1,000 students, to 26 per 1,000. During this same period, the rate of violent victimization at school increased from 17 per 1,000 students, to 24 per 1,000.

School Environment

Bullying is now recognized as a widespread and often neglected problem in schools that has serious implications for victims of bullying and for those who perpetrate the bullying.17

In 2011, about 28 percent of 12- to 18-year-old students reported being bullied at school during the school year (Indicator 11). A higher percentage of females than of males ages 12 - 18 reported that they were made fun of, called names, or insulted (19 vs. 16 percent), were the subject of rumors (24 vs. 13 percent), and were excluded from activities on purpose (6 vs. 5 percent). The percentage of males (9 percent) who reported being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on, was higher than the percentage of females who reported the same bullying problem (7 percent).

In 2011, approximately 9 percent of students aged 12 - 18 reported being cyber-bullied during the school year. (Cyber-bullying is distinct from bullying at school.) Female students reported being the victims of cyber-bullying problems at higher percentages than males. The same percentages of females and males reported being the subject of harassing text messages. (Indicator 11)

In 2011, approximately 19 percent of students attending public schools reported that gangs were present at their school (Indicator 8). Intimidation of staff and students by gang members has a large impact on the educational environment and perception of school safety.18

The percentage of students who reported that drugs were made available to them on school property in 2011 (26 percent) was higher than in 2009 (23 percent). (Indicator 9)

The percentage of students who reported being the target of hate-related words was 9 percent in 2011, and the percentage of students who reported seeing hate-related graffiti at school during the school year was 28 percent in 2011. (Indicator 10)

Fights, Weapons, and Illegal Substances

In 2011, about 33 percent of students in grades 9 - 12 reported they had been in a physical fight at least one time during the previous 12 months. 4 percent of males said they had been in a fight twelve or more times, compared to 1 percent of females. (Indicator 13).

39 percent of students in grades 9 - 12 reported having at least one drink of alcohol during the previous 30 days in 2011. (Indicator 15)

In 2011, some 23 percent of students in grades 9 - 12 reported using marijuana at least one time in the previous 30 days. Higher percentages of males than females reported using marijuana. (Indicator 16)

Fear and Avoidance

In 2011, 4 percent of students, ages 12 - 18, reported that they were afraid of attack or harm at school (Indicator 17)

The percentage of students who reported that they had avoided at least one school activity or one or more places in school during the previous school year because of fear of attack or harm in 2011 was 6 percent. About 2 percent of students avoided at least one school activity, and 5 percent avoided one or more places in school. A higher percentage of female than male students reported avoiding one or more places in school because of fear of attack or harm (5 vs. 4 percent, respectively) (Indicator 18).

Discipline, Safety, and Security Measures

In the 2011 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, students aged 12 - 18 were asked how often they had been afraid of attack or harm "at school or on the way to and from school" as well as "away from school." A higher percentage of students aged 12 - 18 reported that they were afraid of attack or harm at school (4 percent) than away from school (2 percent) during the school year. Such school crime may lead students to perceive school as unsafe, and in trying to ensure their own safety, students may skip school activities or avoid certain places in school.19

Sources of Data

Listed below are some of the datasets used in this report. Directions for obtaining more information are provided at the end of each description.


References

  1. Henry, S. (2000). What Is School Violence? An Integrated Definition. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 567: 16 - 29.
  2. Crick, N.R., and Bigbee, M.A. (1998). Relational and Overt Forms of Peer Victimization: A Multi- Informant Approach. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66: 337 - 347.
  3. Crick, N.R., and Grotpeter, J.K. (1996). Children's Treatment by Peers: Victims of Relational and Overt Aggression. Development and Psychopathology, 8: 367 - 380.
  4. Nansel, T.R., Overpeck, M., Pilla, R., Ruan, W., Simons-Morton, B., and Scheidt, P. (2001). Bullying Behaviors Among U.S. Youth: Prevalence and Association With Psychosocial Adjustment. Journal of the American Medical Association, 285: 2094 - 2100.
  5. Prinstein, M.J., Boergers, J., and Vernberg, E.M. (2001). Overt and Relational Aggression in Adolescents: Social-Psychological Adjustment of Aggressors and Victims. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 30: 479 - 491.
  6. Storch, E.A., Nock, M.K., Masia-Warner, C., and Barlas, M.E. (2003). Peer Victimization and Social-Psychological Adjustment in Hispanic and African-American Children. Journal of Child & Family Studies, 12: 439 - 455.
  7. Ringwalt, C.L., Ennett, S., and Johnson, R. (2003). Factors Associated With Fidelity to Substance Use Prevention Curriculum Guides in the Nation's Middle Schools. Health Education & Behavior, 30: 375 - 391.
  8. MacMillan, R., and Hagan, J. (2004). Violence in the Transition to Adulthood: Adolescent Victimization, Education, and Socioeconomic Attainment in Later Life. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 1(2): 127 - 158.
  9. Wei, H., and Williams, J.H. (2004). Relationship Between Peer Victimization and School Adjustment in Sixth-Grade Students: Investigating Mediation Effects. Violence and Victims, 19: 557 - 571.
  10. Beauvais, F., Chavez, E., Oetting, E., Deffenbacher, J., and Cornell, G. (1996). Drug Use, Violence, and Victimization Among White American, Mexican American, and American Indian Dropouts, Students With Academic Problems, and Students in Good Academic Standing. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 43: 292 - 299.
  11. MacMillan, R., and Hagan, J. (2004). Violence in the Transition to Adulthood: Adolescent Victimization, Education, and Socioeconomic Attainment in Later Life. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 1(2): 127 - 158.
  12. Nansel, T.R., Overpeck, M.D., Haynie, D.L., Ruan, W.J., and Scheidt, P.C. (2003). Relationships Between Bullying and Violence Among U.S. Youth. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 157(4): 348 - 353.
  13. Scheckner, S., Rollins, S.A., Kaiser-Ulrey, C., and Wagner, R. (2002). School Violence in Children and Adolescents: A Meta-Analysis of Effectiveness. Journal of School Violence, 1: 5 - 34.
  14. Lannie, A.L., and McCurdy, B.L. (2007). Preventing Disruptive Behavior in the Urban Classroom: Effects of the Good Behavior Game on Student and Teacher Behavior. Education and Treatment of Children, 30(1): 85 - 98.
  15. Karcher, M. (2002). The Cycle of Violence and Disconnection Among Rural Middle School Students: Teacher Disconnection as a Consequence of Violence. Journal of School Violence, 1: 35 - 51.
  16. Smith, D.L., and Smith, B.J. (2006). Perceptions of Violence: The Views of Teachers Who Left Urban Schools. The High School Journal, 89(3): 34 - 42.
  17. Swearer, S.M., Espelage, D.L., Vaillancourt, T., and Hymel, S. (2010). What Can Be Done About School Bullying? Linking Research to Educational Practice. Educational Researcher, 39 (1); 38 - 47.
  18. Smith, T.G., Dorn, R.I., Kanikeberg, K., Burke, A., and Mueller, M. (2011). Gangs in Schools Task Force: Report to the Legislature. Washington State School Safety Center, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Olympia, WA.
  19. Schreck, C.J., and Miller, J.M. (2003). Sources of Fear of Crime at School: What Is the Relative Contribution of Disorder, Individual Characteristics, and School Security? Journal of School Violence, 2(4): 57 - 79.

Further Suggested Reading

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2011. Surveillance Summaries. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2012.

Crews, K., Crews, J., and Turner, F. (2008). School Violence Is Not Going Away So Proactive Steps Are Needed. College Teaching Methods & Styles Journal, 4(1).

Fredland, N.M. (2008). Nurturing Hostile Environments: The Problem of School Violence. Family & Community Health, 31(1).

Kauffman, J., Modzeleski, W., Feucht, T., Simon, T.R., Anderson, M., Shaw, K., Arias, I., and Barrios, L. (2004). School-Associated Suicides— United States, 1994 - 1999. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 53(22).

Neiman, S. (2011). Crime, Violence, Discipline, and Safety in U.S. Public Schools: Findings From the School Survey on Crime and Safety: 2009 - 10 (NCES 2011-320). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.

Payne, A.A., Gottfredson, D.C., and Gottfredson, G.D. (2003). Schools as Communities: The Relationship Between Communal School Organization, Student Bonding, and School Disorder. Criminology, 41.

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2012). NCES Statistical Standards. Washington, DC.

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