The Public Interest

Crime in American public schools

Jackson Toby

Winter 1980

The study was an elaborate one. Principals in 4,014 schools in large cities, smaller cities, suburban areas, and rural areas filled out questionnaires and returned them to Washington. Then 31,373 students and 23,895 teachers in 642 junior and senior high schools throughout the country were questioned about their experiences with school crime-in particular whether they themselves were victimized and, if so, how. From among the 31,373 students who filled out anonymous questionnaires, 6,283 were selected randomly for individual interviews on the same subject. Discrepancies between questionnaire reports of victimization and interview reports of victimization were probed to find out exactly what respondents meant when they answered that they had been attacked, robbed, or had property stolen from their desks or lockers. Finally, intensive field studies were conducted in 10 schools, schools that had had especially serious crime problems in the past and had made some progress in overcoming them.


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