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School Violence

The History Of School Discipline, School Shootings, Bullying, Shootings Become More Frequent, The Spring Of 1998

Adramatic series of school shootings between 1995 and 1999 startled the nation. Deadly violence within schools struck fear in the public and particularly school-age youth across the nation. Beginning in 1989, there had been an increase in school violence, ranging from verbal harassment, threats of harm, and violent crime.

Overall national violent crime rates dropped after 1993 and continued at lower levels into the twenty-first century. Similarly, following a period of increased violence by juveniles (youth less than eighteen years of age) between 1989 and 1993, youth violence had begun to level off or decline as well. Crimes reported by schools dropped 10 percent between 1995 and 1999. The decrease in youth violence, however, was less than the overall trend.

Public concern about school violence rose significantly as school shootings dominated the media's attention from 1997 to 1999. This was despite the fact that these high-profile crimes occurred during a period in which violent deaths related to schools and school activities had decreased by 40 percent.

A school security camera shows Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold on a shooting spree at Columbine High School in 1999, killing thirteen people and injuring twenty-six others. (AP/Wide World Photos)

Suddenly in the late 1990s, some middle- and upper-class white youths were lashing out with planned acts of cold-blooded violence against their schoolmates and teachers. School violence was no longer considered an inner-city problem. In reaction to the rise in the number of multiple homicides, governments and school districts adopted new measures to identify and respond to possible problems before they erupted.

Though difficult, teachers and administrators turned to students for help; asking them to report threatening comments or dangerous activities. They also sought to reduce negative behavior such as bullying, which was generally ignored in the past or noticed but dismissed as typical adolescent behavior. As the United States entered the twenty-first century, the public considered schools to be dangerous places. Statistics actually indicated the opposite and showed that schools were the safest public places in the nation.

For More Information


Bonilla, Denise M., ed. School Violence. New York: H. W. Wilson, 2000.

Coloroso, Barbara. The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Pre-School to High School, How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence. New York: HarperResource, 2003.

Flannery, Daniel, and C. Ronald Huff, eds. Youth Violence: Prevention, Intervention, and Social Policy. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, 1999.

Garbarino, James. Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them. New York: Free Press, 1999.

Heide, Kathleen M. Young Killers: The Challenge of Juvenile Homicide. New York: Sage, 1998.

Kelleher, Michael D. When Good Kids Kill. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998.

Smith, Helen. The Scarred Heart: Understanding and Identifying Kids Who Kill. Knoxville, TN: Callisto, 2000.

Web Sites

Bullying.org. http://www.bullying.org (accessed on August 20, 2004).

The National Campaign to Prevent School Violence. http://www.ribbonofpromise.org (accessed August 20, 2004).

North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Center for the Prevention of School Violence. http://www.ncdjjdp.org/cpsv/ (accessed on August 20, 2004).

"School Violence." Constitutional Rights Foundation. http://www.crf-usa.org/violence/intro.html (accessed on August 20, 2004).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law