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Elementary Students in Class. (Photo: SB Professional/Shutterstock)

New Study Finds Violence In California Schools Has Gone Down By 50% in 20 Years

UCLA study finds that reports of weapons in schools have gone down by over 2/3rds since 2001

By Evan Symon, April 11, 2023 2:30 am

A new study by UCLA has found that day-to-day violence at middle and high schools in California has plummeted since the early-2000’s, with California schools now being the safest in decades.

According to the study, a 56% reduction in school fights was found using datasets from 2001 to 2019. Huge drops were also found  with weapons on campus, with reports of guns in schools going down by 70% and other weapons such as knives going down by 68%. Students being threatened by weapons also saw a huge 59% reduction between 2001 and 2019.

The study itself came from data collected by the California Healthy Kids Survey, a questionnaire given to kids in the 5th, 7th, 9th, and 11th grades every year since 2001. The questionnaires were also given to over 95% of California’s public and private schools, showing an overall drop regardless of nearly every demographic.

While the state has also seen the most school shootings in the country during this time, with at least one student killed or injured in attacks since 2012, the state’s mass shooting homicide rate is still lower than the national average. And, compared with the UCLA survey, it is just an outlier to the overall massive drop in violence statewide.

“Each school shooting is a devastating act that terrorizes the nation, and there is a growing sense in the public that little has changed in two decades to make schools safe,” said UCLA study co-author Ron Avi Astor, who co-authored the study. “But mass shootings are just one part of this story. Overall, on a day-to-day basis for most students, American schools are safer than they’ve been for many decades.

“During the 18-year period examined, California secondary schools had massive reductions in all forms of victimization, including physical threats with or without weapons, verbal and psychological abuse, and property offenses. It is important to learn from the policies and interventions that have helped reduce school violence in the last two decades to face these new challenges.”

In addition, the authors noted that increased mental health issues and outbursts of violence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic were not factored in, with small increases being likely in the last several years. However, even with the shift, figures still are lower than where they were two decades ago.

Despite the huge drops, many educators believe that the results may be skewed, and that the figures don’t take into account many factors.

“Yeah, physical violence might be down, but cyber-bullying and things that mentally hurt students we’ve been seeing a lot more of,” said LA-area school psychologist Brittany Cohen to the Globe on Monday. “It’s also not taking into account how many students lie on these surveys. Not because of any maliciousness or wanting to screw with data, but because they simply don’t want to acknowledge it or want to compartmentalize it away. Some may not even see acts of violence as violence.”

“Violence is down overall, and due to how high security in schools is nowadays, students know they just can’t bring in a weapon anymore without dire consequences. And it’s not just schools without a lot of security where everyone leaves their locker unlocked. Locker checks happen often, as do drug sweeps. It’s hard to get away with bringing anything dangerous anymore.”

“But online and more mental bullying – that’s where all of this is going, and the survey doesn’t really show that shift. Violence is down, again, but based on how kids do these surveys, it may not be as much as we think. Especially with fighting-alternative ways to bullying now being out there.”

More school studies will likely come out soon as the end of the school year approaches.

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5 thoughts on “New Study Finds Violence In California Schools Has Gone Down By 50% in 20 Years

  1. Sorry, hard to see this as anything other than spin. Restorative Justice means school administrators simply change the definition of violence to give the appearance of lower rates of suspensions for physically acting out. And how does this explain the “crisis” which necessitates the hiring of thousands of more counselors to cope with the overwhelming rate of depression and anxiety found among today’s schoolchildren, the lower attendance rates, or the difficulty in hiring more teachers?

    1. Exactly. A switch to not counting incidents, or incidents not being reported because there are no consequences, doesn’t mean those incidents have gone away. Cities do this with crime statistics, too. Victims give up on calling the police, who have repeatedly told them over the years there is nothing they can do because of increasingly crazy state and local policies, lefty D.A.s, etc. Officials probably monkey with the numbers anyway for good measure. As you know.

      1. Showandtell, A yes, statistics. There is an ongoing backlash in my community because there is an ever-increasing number of transient drug addicts arriving here from all over the country because of our handouts and soft-on-crime politics. In order to deflect public criticism and keep money flowing to the local homeless industrial complex the compassionate idiots of the complex conduct surveys to determine how many transient drug addicts are originally from the community. Unsurprisingly their surveys conclude that most of the drug addict transients are natives. And who did the survey workers canvas in order to arrive at their statistical analysis? Well, the transient drug addicts, of course.

        1. I don’t doubt it at all, Fed Up, and of course labeling all homeless/vagrants as natives does likely cause gullible under-informed members of the public to unfortunately be okay with more misspent cash and slush funds for the Homeless Industrial Complex. But notice the public is not even allowed to vote regarding these cash infusions anymore as we used to. L.A. Mayor Karen Bass, for instance, just announced that more millions would be spent on it. Same with Newsom and the same with Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, as I recall.
          During a discussion about the most recent L.A. homeless count, which can’t be done accurately to begin with, someone pointed out that those who benefit are incentivized to come up with a LARGER number. Duh on me! — hadn’t even thought of that. I always thought they were under-counting, if anything. Maybe the same thing applies to the numbers rumored now in L.A. regarding homeless deaths per day (5), per year (2,000), doubled from previous years. Those numbers, which have an emotional impact, are probably not accurate either. Who knows, I don’t.
          On the bright side the homeless audit (where did the billions go, exactly?) that Katy recently brought to our attention as having been approved, has apparently begun. Heard it on the news today. We’ll see what that reveals….

  2. Sure, whatever you say. I also believe that inflation is only 5%, Bite Me is really running things and that Bud Light’s new spokes he/she/it is really a chic.

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