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School Violence Prevention: Strategies to Keep Schools Safe

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Abstract:

School violence is an increasingly serious problem, especially in big cities and especially in public schools. About 3 million crimes a year are committed in or near the 85,000 U.S. public schools. About one in nine public school teachers, and one in four public school students, report being victims of violence.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. If all schools were the same, in demographically similar neighborhoods, with similar crime rates in the surrounding community, with similar-quality teachers and similarly committed staffs, and similar budgetary constraints, then we could feel safe advocating a common policy for all schools. But schools are self-evidently not like that. The ideal violence-prevention policy will likely be different for each school.

This paper concludes with a discussion of what some private schools are doing, including the results of our interviews with principals of several Catholic schools. We further suggest that compulsory education laws may be contributing to violence in public schools.