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Urban, Rural, Suburban: Which Schools are the Most Dangerous Schools?

Quick, answer this question at a gut level without looking up the answer:

Are students most likely to be the victim of violence in rural schools, in suburban schools, or in urban schools?

Got your answer?

Great. Now let’s head to the National Center for Education Statistics’ Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2015 report, released just this month (May 2016), for the actual trend. From Figure 2.3 on page 28:

Student Violent Victimization Rate By School Location 2014: Rural Schools are the Most Dangerous

Many people in the United States believe that urban schools are the places where American kids are at greatest risk of violent victimization, but that belief appears to be simply untrue.  Urban schools are essentially as safe as suburban schools.  The schools with the highest rate of student violent victimization turn out to be rural schools.

What do you think of that, and why do you think that is?

P.S. Apart from the pattern, notice the actual counts.  No matter what kind of school being considered, the number of students per 1,000 who experienced violent victimization was less than 4%.  For the vast majority of American schoolchildren, school is a physically safe place to be.

10 thoughts on “Urban, Rural, Suburban: Which Schools are the Most Dangerous Schools?”

  1. Charles Manning says:

    Fascinating question! I think it’s because urban areas have more school violence, even though fewer per capita, because of the larger population more densely packed into urban areas. News media tend to report sensational stories, like stories about school violence; while media in rural areas have fewer sensational stories to report. So if you compare urban and rural news reports, you see far fewer school violence stories from rural areas.

    1. Jim Cook says:

      That’s a really good theory, Charles. You have me thinking in addition that media tend to be urban and not to report rural events of any kind as much.

  2. John Simmons says:

    Hahaha! you almost had me going there for a sec. Till I looked at your report through the eyes of off logic and sanity. Through the eyes of insanity it looks like this… Wow! Imagine that!!!! Those wicked little WHITE kids living way out in the middle of nowhere are FAAAR more dangerous than all the inner city children of color. Who would have guessed? Then I realized that we can’t trust any stats that relate to this current failed administration, and especially none connected to anybody obama put in charge of any department handling let’s say the Safe Schools initiative. I mean the president actually believes that the unemployment rate is somewhere around 6%!!!!!I think that the stats in this report came from the same place that “president obama” gets his stats on unemployment. So if you believe this fabrication just like if you believe that only 6% of Americans can’t find employment, then I have a bridge I want to sell you. I seriously doubt that it is any less safe to live in let’s say grants pass Oregon vs. Let’s say long beach California…. I feel stupid even spelling that load of crap out on my keyboard much less actually believing it’s true. So I guess if you’re comfortable living in dream land, then this report is just for you. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT 2016!!!!!!!! LET’S MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!! 🙂

    1. J Clifford says:

      John, you must be writing satirically.

    2. Jim Cook says:

      Your position is: observable facts of actual incidents be damned, White kids must be safer, vote Trump. I must say, you and Trump belong together.

  3. Dave says:

    You got me wondering why the stats be thus. Sites that give statistics by race (which I am assuming is being tacitly discussed here) tell us that rural schools in the U.S. are majority white. While musing on this I wondered if higher graduation rates among whites means that troublemakers in urban schools drop out before they can create a more negative statistic, and I am aware that this is assuming that the older kids would be more prolific in their bullying.

    The answer, of course, turns out to be complex. At under “Rural Dropout Problem” I found that of the 800 rural districts with the highest student poverty rates, 87 percent of the “Rural 800” are in fifteen Southern and Southwestern states. According to the article, students in these districts are twice as likely to be English language learners, and these districts are “more racially and ethnically diverse than all other districts of any kind. Nearly three in five of the students in these districts are people of color.”

    Though overall rural schools are white, and crime and violence statistics by race are getting hard to come by, it would seem that 800 districts would be a sizeable enough chunk to skew statistics if the different races are simply not getting along.

    Anecdote: one of my first jobs was as a “hall monitor” in a high school in Chicagoland. It was in a northern suburb, and the job mainly consisted in keeping black kids from the projects and white (Nordic descended) kids from the farms from killing each other. Only one stabbing that year. Also, the school was close enough to the Wisconsin state line that it probably would fall into the rural category.

    There is no reason to think that Figure 2.3 that you posted is not accurate, but it really doesn’t tell much about the why of things. Not that the Rural 800 does either, but it at least shows the complexity of any answer to your question.

  4. Ashley Nave says:

    I went to a suburban school in the county in Stafford, Virginia. Stafford High School was a that was in between. It was considerly safer compared to a city public school. Most suburban schools could be in the surrounding country territories, too. Suburban territory is open space while a subdivision is anywhere out there. A subdivision and the suburban terroritory is very different. Suburban terrorities are safer than cities or over crowded places. You would think that a rural school is the safest compared to the city schools. Country people aren’t to actually fool around with and mess with. City people are cowards and imbeciles if they want to start trouble with those who live in the country. City/country people are no match for one another. So people want to know why that country folks can more dangerous? It’s because country life or living certainly isn’t very easygoing. That is why city folks who start trouble with the country best mind their own business, manners, nor attempt to trespass on the property.

    1. Jim Cook says:

      Sez you.

  5. Ashley says:

    In addition, suburban territory is safer than rural and city terrories. I of course only live fifteen minutes from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Of course it’s definitely getting a to more dangerous when I live in Stafford County, and I live in 4 1/2 acres. Fredericksburg Virginia area gets reports on about three shoortings a week or throughput the month. However Stafford High School where attended was considered safe and secure to some point, and it was a good school. In Virginia there is also suburban and and country terroriess. I live in between suburban and country. Central and shopping centers are only fiftteen minutes away. There are numerous gyms and recreation centsers, my nearest grocery store is about five to ten minutes away. Violence may happen anywhere, but I have heard more reports about it in larger cities such as DC and Chicago,etc

    1. J Clifford says:

      You HEAR more about school shootings in larger cities. School shootings ACTUALLY happen more in rural communities.

      Isn’t that an interesting media bias?

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