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October 15, 1998

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At a time when we are doing everything we can to strengthen our nation for the 21st Century, we cannot afford to let the threat of violence in our schools and our communities stand between our children and the education they need to make the most of their lives. We must take action to prevent youth violence before it happens.

President Bill Clinton
October 15, 1998

Today, President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton host the White House Conference on School Safety, bringing together youth violence experts and advocates, educators, elected officials, law enforcement, and prevention and intervention practitioners, to discuss and learn more about what we can do to make our schools and communities safer. At the Conference, the President will release the findings of the first Annual Report on School Safety, prepared by the Departments of Justice and Education, and announce new initiatives to address many of the problems identified in the Report.

The First Annual Report On School Safety. The first Annual Report on School Safety is intended to give parents, principals and policy makers an accurate, yearly snapshot of school crime, as well as to provide information on what practical steps they can take to make their schools safer. Among the findings the President will announce are:

  • The overall crime rate in schools has dropped since 1993.
  • Most schools are safer than the community at large. Students are more than twice as likely to experience serious violent crime while out of school, and the very worst violent victimizations rarely occur in or near schools;
  • Serious crime and violence is concentrated in a small percentage of schools. Only about 10 percent of public schools report serious or violent crimes to their local police departments. Roughly 46 percent of schools report less serious or non-violent crimes to police, and 43 percent of schools report no crime at all;
  • Violence is more likely in larger, urban schools with older students. One-third of large schools (1,000 + students) report serious violent crimes to the police, compared with less than one-tenth of small schools. Also, urban schools are twice as likely as rural schools to report serious violent crimes, and middle and high schools are four times as likely than elementary schools to report such crimes;
  • Fist fights and theft are the most common school crimes. Overall, physical attacks and fights without weapons are the crimes most often reported to police by middle and high schools. Theft is the most common school crime overall.

A Presidential Call To Action. The President will announce a series of new initiatives that address many of the problems identified in the Annual Report on School Safety, including:

  • A New Federal Response To Violent Deaths In Schools. The President will propose a $12 million School Emergency Response To Violence -- Project SERV -- to help schools and local communities respond to school-related violent deaths;
  • Targeted Resources For Schools With Serious Crime Problems. The President will announce a new initiative to hire up to 2,000 community police and School Resource Officers to work in the 10 percent of schools with serious crime problems and train police, educators, and other members of the community to help recognize the early warning signs of violence;
  • Reforms To Help Make All Schools Safe, Disciplined, And Drug-Free. The President will announce his intent to overhaul the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program so that schools will be required to adopt rigorous, comprehensive school safety plans for effective drug and violence prevention and reduction;
  • A Community-Wide Response To School Safety And Youth Violence. The President will announce the launch of a new Safe Schools - Safe Communities Initiative designed to help 10 cities develop and implement community-wide school safety plans;
  • A New Partnership To Engage Youth In Solutions To Violence. Together with Music Television (MTV), the federal government will launch a new campaign to encourage young people to become mentors and help their peers resolve conflicts peacefully. This campaign, "Fight for Your Rights : Take a Stand Against Youth Violence" will reach millions of young people and help make our schools and communities safe.

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