The number of weapons incidents reported in Washington state schools increased by 14 percent last year, according to figures released June 14 by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The 3,402 reported incidents during the 1999-2000 school year were the most since the state began tracking statistics in 1993.
More than one-third involved knives. Many others were in a broad weapons category that included everything from chains to pencils. There were 163 cases of guns on school grounds, one-third less than the number reported seven years ago.
School officials say the overall record high shouldn’t be interpreted as an increase in violence, but rather a result of greater awareness by schools to report suspicious activities, especially since the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in 1999.
Many schools have started campaigns to get students to report rumors of gun s and after-school fights. Others have made school safety a part of the curriculum.
“I truly believe all the work we have done to protect our schools from violent behavior is reflected in our new numbers about weapons in schools,” said state Superintendent Terry Bergeson. “We’ve opened lines of communications between students and staff about weapons in schools, and that has diffused many potential incidents of violence.”