The topic of this Bulletin is the national effort to reach youth who are absent or truant from school because of school-associated fear and intimidation. The ongoing series of OJJDP Bulletins that centers on reaching these youth is part of the Youth Out of the Education Mainstream (YOEM) initiative, a joint effort of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice, and the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program, U.S. Department of Education. The YOEM initiative focuses on at-risk youth who are truant, dropouts, fearful of attending school, suspended or expelled, or in need of help reintegrating into mainstream schools from juvenile detention and correctional settings. Each Bulletin in this series highlights one of these five separate but often related categories of problems that cause youth to forsake their education and thus place themselves at risk of delinquency.

Little more than half a century ago, when the United States faced challenging times, an American president warned the country's citizens that they had nothing to fear but fear itself. Once again, the country faces a threat: the invasion of safe havens for youth -- its schools -- by community violence and its concomitant, fear.

This Bulletin deals with some manifestations of street violence that have encroached on schools, territory formerly thought to be inviolate: bullying, gangs, the possession and use of weapons, substance abuse, and violence in the community. It documents the concern that educators, parents, students -- citizens in general -- have expressed. The Bulletin also outlines strategies and describes programs that reveal that these same citizens are working vigorously in creative partnerships to revitalize schools and make them safer.

National data regarding rates of actual victimization at school are not available. Schools and school districts currently are not required to report incidents of school crime and violence to any one national agency. National information that is available regarding student victimization is usually based on surveys that poll a representative sample of students (and educators) about their own experiences and often about their perceptions of the violence experienced by others at school. These results are often then generalized to apply to the total population. However, a trend is developing toward standardizing incident reporting on State and local levels. This trend will help refine, expand, and update data regarding school crime and violence and will help to target limited resources to address issues of student victimization and school crime and violence.

Combating Fear and Restoring Safety in Schools Juvenile Justice Bulletin   ·  April 1998