CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Report Shows that Schools Underreport Crime

From Schools and colleges across the country do not report crime and violent incidents on campus consistently or accurately — in many cases because they are not required to, according to safety experts and a new report by 27 state attorneys general.

A patchwork of state and federal laws intended to tally assaults, robberies, drug use and other crime at primary and secondary schools — as well as colleges and universities — fails to provide a clear picture of the scope of the problem, critics charge. Out-of-date, incomplete statistics are common and authorities have few effective tools to penalize institutions that do not comply, including fines that observers say amount to a “drop in the bucket.”

Making matters worse, school and college officials are reluctant to release more comprehensive information on their own because of stigmas that can be attached to institutions with frequent occurrences of crime, said Ronald Stephens, executive director of the California-based
National School Safety Center which advocates for safer primary and secondary schools.

Stephens and others stressed that high crime rates do not necessarily reflect administrative failures, and that the absence of accurate information hinders efforts to understand and prevent illegal activity.

“Good crime data can provide a summary of what crimes are occurring, where they are happening and when they are happening,” Stephens said in an e-mail to “When this information is available, school officials can develop more effective prevention and remediation programs and provide responsible adult supervision to those areas where the difficulties are occurring.” Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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