WASHINGTON (AP) – School crime is on the decline, according to a government report that reflects incidents through 2001 but does not factor in a recent spike in violence.

From 1995 to 2001, the percentage of students age 12 to 18 who reported being victims of violence or theft at school dropped from 10 percent to 6 percent, according to figures from departments of Justice and Education.

The rate of violent crimes at school among these students dropped from 48 crimes per 1,000 students to 28 crimes from 1992 to 2001.

Those figures, part of a comprehensive list of measures updated each year, are based on a variety of government-sponsored surveys. The 2003 report includes data through 2001.

“The trend over a period of time is really a good trend, and that’s what we have to look at, because change in school programs and policies takes a while to take effect,” said Bill Modzeleski, school safety director for the Education Department.

The dropping crime rate seems to be in keeping with the safety scores the schools give themselves. Fewer than 50 of the nation’s 91,000 public schools have been labeled as “persistently dangerous” by their states under a review required by federal law.

So far this fall, there have been 20 violent school-related deaths, more than during either of the past two school years, said Ken Trump, a national school safety consultant who has worked with officials in more than 35 states.

“These ongoing federal historic studies of yesteryear fail to help school officials stay one step ahead of the game in keeping their schools safe,” he said.

Modzeleski said that, historically, spikes in school violence even out by year’s end. Some of the school-related violent incidents are at times when students are heading to or from school, he said, underscoring the need for communities to help ensure safety.

On the Net:

Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2003: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid2004004

AP-ES-10-23-03 2050EDT

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