Friday, May 11, 2007

Survey: Students At Fort Bend ISD East-side Schools Live With Fear On Campus

Do your children always feel safe at school? How about on the way back and forth to and from school? Have you asked them?

Posted at FortBendNow
About 42% of the students who took buses to Thurgood Marshall High School last year almost always felt unsafe due to potential violence from classmates while riding those buses.

At Missouri City Middle School, more than 45% of the students felt unsafe last spring when using the school’s bathrooms.

More than a third of all Willowridge High School students polled in 2006 seldom or never felt safe even in the classrooms of their Chimney Rock Road, Houston, campus.

And the parking lot at Christa McAuliffe Middle School, on South Post Oak Road in Houston, may have been the most frightening spot in Fort Bend Independent School District, at least in 2006, where nearly 62% of the students said they felt unsafe.

Those are some of the startling findings taken from a portion of the most recent Pride Survey, in which a sample generally ranging between 300 and 400 students at each of FBISD’s high schools and middle schools were asked their views on, among other things, school safety and violence. (Elementary schools did not participate in the survey.)

Violence in schools is supposedly on the decline, however students still don't feel safe. I believe that this is partly due to the media attention that school violence gets, along with the increased security measures at schools which remind children that safety is a real concern. The biggest factor however, would be the reality that children live with every day. There is a lot more to feeling safe than just knowing that your school isn't going to be shot up. There is the threat of bullying, fighting, drugs, harassment, and gang activity.

According to the Institute of Educational Services in a 2006 report the nature of the school environment is not that appealing.

School Environment

  • The percentage of public schools experiencing one or more violent incidents increased between the 1999–2000 and 2003–04 school years, from 71 to 81 percent (Indicator 6). Both primary schools and high schools had lower rates of violent crimes per 1,000 students than middle schools. In 2003–04, there were 28 violent crimes per 1,000 students in both primary schools and high schools, compared with 53 violent crimes in middle schools.

  • In 2003–04, 2 percent of public schools reported daily or weekly occurrences of racial tensions among students and 27 percent reported daily or weekly student bullying (Indicator 7). With regard to other frequently occurring discipline problems in public schools (those occurring at least once a week), 11 percent of principals reported student verbal abuse of teachers, 3 percent reported widespread disorder in classrooms, and 19 percent reported student acts of disrespect for teachers. About 17 percent of public schools reported undesirable gang activities and 3 percent reported undesirable cult or extremist activities.

  • The prevalence of frequently occurring discipline problems was related to school enrollment size in the 2003–04 school year (Indicator 7). In general, principals in large schools were more likely to report discipline problems than principals in small schools. Thirty-four percent of principals at schools with 1,000 or more students reported student acts of disrespect for teachers at least once per week, compared with 21 percent of those at schools with 500–999 students, 17 percent of those at schools with 300–499 students, and 14 percent of those at schools with less than 300 students.

  • In 2005, 24 percent of students ages 12–18 reported that there were gangs at their schools (Indicator 8). Students in urban schools (36 percent) were more likely to report the presence of gangs at their school than suburban students (21 percent) and rural students (16 percent).

  • The percentage of students reporting the presence of gangs increased from 21 to 24 percent between 2003 and 2005 (Indicator 8). The percentage of students at urban schools reporting the presence of gangs at school increased from 31 to 36 percent during this period.

  • In 2005, one-quarter of all students in grades 9–12 reported that someone had offered, sold, or given them an illegal drug on school property in the past 12 months (Indicator 9).

  • Eleven percent of students ages 12–18 reported that someone at school had used hate-related words against them, and more than one-third (38 percent) had seen hate-related graffiti at school in 2005 (Indicator 10).

  • In 2005, 28 percent of students ages 12–18 reported having been bullied at school during the last 6 months (Indicator 11). Of these students, 58 percent said that the bullying had happened once or twice during that period, 25 percent had experienced bullying once or twice a month, 11 percent reported having been bullied once or twice a week, and 8 percent said they had been bullied almost daily.

  • Of those students who reported bullying incidents that involved being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on (9 percent), 24 percent reported that they had sustained an injury7 during the previous 6 months as a result (Indicator 11). While no measurable differences were found by sex in students' likelihood of reporting a bullying incident in 2005, among students who reported being bullied, males were more likely than females to report being injured during such an incident (31 vs. 18 percent).

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