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Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 13:32 GMT
Crime rates fall in US schools
Columbine High School
Events at Columbine High School shocked the country
Violent crimes in schools in the United States have fallen slightly, but more must be done to tackle the problem of violence, government officials warned.

New research by the US Education and Justice Departments suggests the number of pupils - aged 12 and above - who said they were the victim of a violent crime or theft at school fell from 10% to 8% between 1995 and 1999.


Our schools should be a haven for our young people where they can learn without fear of violence

Attorney General John Ashcroft
Between 1992 and 1999, cases of violence in schools were down from 48 crimes per 1,000 students to 33 per 1,000.

The percentage of students who reported having street gangs at their school fell from 29% in 1995 to 17% in 1999, the figures show.

Violence in US schools has been high on the political agenda, since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, when two armed teenagers went on a rampage through their school shooting dead a teacher and 12 fellow students, before turning their weapons on themselves.

'Haven'

Attorney General John Ashcroft welcomed the latest statistics, but said there was more work to be done.

"Our schools should be a haven for our young people where they can learn without fear of violence," he said.

Rod Paige
Rod Paige says school should be safe havens
US Secretary of Education Rod Paige said the report proved the efforts of communities, schools, the law, faith and youth organisations could reduce violence in schools.

"Better awareness of the need for safe schools, stronger programmes based on research, and tougher policies all have made a difference in our classrooms," he said.

"While the school crime trend is moving in the right direction, and the number of students bringing weapons to school in particular has dropped by 42%, we can't let up on our efforts.

"Our young people cannot learn if they don't feel safe, and our teachers must be able to teach in classrooms free of violence and disruption."

See also:

29 Sep 01 | Education
Anti-violence guide for teachers
23 Mar 01 | Education
Parents warned: No 'aggro' in school
21 Apr 99 | Americas
Timetable of terror
21 Apr 00 | Americas
Columbine marks tragedy
20 Apr 00 | Americas
In pictures: Columbine remembers
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