School Violence-Fears vs Facts

The shootings yesterday at Virginia Tech bring to the forefront the issue of school violence. One might jump to conclusions and assume that school violence is on the rise. However, University of Virginia psychologist Dewey Cornell the director of the Virginia Youth Violence Project, suggests otherwise in an interview in October 2006.

Dewey Cornell: The recent school shootings have aroused a lot of fear and concern. There have been news reports that school violence is increasing. Parents are worried that their children will not be safe. What I want to emphasize is that 2-3 cases do not make a trend. We have 119,000 public schools in the U.S. The larger national trends are down, not up. Whenever we hear about a terrible crime, it creates the perception that it is increasing. Studies show that school homicides and violence in general has been declining for ten years. This is the good news that you never hear about. For more information on school violence and Cornell's book on Fears vs Facts visit the Virginia Youth Violence Project.

Cornell points out two important facts:
  • There is more danger driving to school than being in school
  • Schools are safer than homes, statistically.
Statistically, if you take the ten worst years of violence in schools, there were about 9.3 student killings per year. If you divide that by 119,000 schools, the odds of it happening are remote. The average school can expect a student to kill someone at school every 12,000 years.

A transcript of the entire interview can be found at:

Post your comments:
Are schools safer today?
What role can schools play in keeping children safe?
What actions have you taken to reassure parents that their children are safe?