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Safety upswing

EDUCATION | School violence drops in California over 18 years

Students from James Logan High School in Union City, Calif., listen to a speech about gun violence. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Safety upswing
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A recent study from UCLA found that violence in California schools dropped considerably from 2001 to 2019. Researchers used data from the California Healthy Kids Survey, which surveyed 6.2 million seventh, ninth, and 11th grade ­students from 3,253 California schools, to compile the March 28 report published in the World Journal of Pediatrics.

According to the study, which included bullying in its definition of violence, students reported fewer instances of spreading rumors or verbal or social ridicule based on looks. In the 2001-2003 period, 25 percent of students reported being involved in a physical fight. In 2017-2019, that number was just 11 percent. Instances of guns on school campuses declined by 70 percent. About 95 percent of schools in the state experienced reduced violence, with black and Hispanic students reporting the greatest decrease.

The overall reduction in school violence in California follows a national trend in recent decades, despite highly publicized school shootings. Researchers have pointed to prevention practices to explain the long-term improvements.

School violence data since the pandemic isn’t yet fully available, though: Many U.S. schools have reported increased behavioral ­problems among students since 2020. Including all settings, school or elsewhere, shooting deaths of kids under 18 jumped 50 percent nationwide from 2019 to 2021, with about a third due to suicide.

Chung Sung-Jun/Pool Photo/AP

Putting the pinch on bullies

South Korean officials unveiled new rules in April that raise the stakes for school bullies. Starting in the admissions cycle for the 2026 school year, high schools will have to report bullying behavior to a student’s prospective college. The government plans to require schools to retain records of serious bullying for four years instead of two, potentially affecting students’ employment options. South Korea’s education ministry said middle schools would not be required to report bullying behavior to colleges.

Universities in South Korea already consider grades, attendance, extracurricular activities, and teacher recommendation letters when admitting students. Government officials may also restrict student lawsuits against schools, due to concerns that parents would advocate for children accused of bullying.

Since 2017, bullying reports in schools have ­doubled, rising to about 62,000 last year. —L.D.

Lauren Dunn

Lauren covers education for WORLD’s digital, print, and podcast platforms. She is a graduate of Thomas Edison State University and World Journalism Institute, and she lives in Wichita, Kan.


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