The rate of crimes against peopleincluding battery and sexual offensesincreased 17 percent last year in California schools, the Los Angeles Times reported March 1.
Rates of weapons possession, bombings, bomb threats, loitering, drug and alcohol sales, and burglary decreased. But rates of all other crimes either held steady or rose on campuses throughout the state, according to an annual school crime report released by the state Department of Education.
The rates of property crimes, such as vandalism and theft, as well as drug and alcohol offenses climbed slightlydue, at least in part, to heightened reporting, a department official said.
This was the first time in the five years of school crime reporting that the rate of crimes against people exceeded the property crime rate. Still, officials insisted that schools remain relatively safe.
“They tend to be the safest institutions in the communities in which they reside,” Doug Stone, a spokesman for the education department, told the Times.
But with battery reaching a rate of 3.88 incidents per 1,000 studentsthe highest rate of any type of crimea group that monitors school safety expressed concern.
“There seems to be a continuing impulsiveness with regard to assault, not only in schools here in California, but around the country,” said Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center in Westlake Village.
The prevalence of different crimes varies by grade level, according to the report. In high school, drug and alcohol offenses are more common. But in middle school and, increasingly, elementary school, crimes against fellow studentssuch as batteryare most frequently reported.
Stephens suggested improved conflict resolution programs, peer mediation, and enhanced adult supervision as possible solutions.