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Violent crime rising at U.S. schools

metal detector
Some schools use metal detectors to check for weapons
April 12, 1998
Web posted at: 9:42 p.m. EDT (0142 GMT)

From White House Correspondent John King

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A government survey of 10,000 students ages 12 to 19 shows that while the overall crime rate at U.S. schools is relatively stable, violent crime is on the rise.

The study by the Education and Justice departments compared data from 1989 and 1995. Among the new findings:

  • 15 percent of students say they are crime victims and 4 percent say the offenses involved violence.

  • The percentage of students reporting gangs at school nearly doubled to 28 percent.

  • 13 percent say they know students who bring guns to school along with their books.

  • 65 percent say they can buy drugs at school.

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  • "They're dealing with the pressure every day in making decisions about drugs," said Steve Dnistrian of the Partnership For A Drug-Free America. "They're seeing drugs in their schools and in their neighborhoods."

    The report immediately became ammunition for White House efforts to get Congress to spend billions more on juvenile crime and other programs.

    "Let's stop arguing about it, let's pass the president's plan ... more prosecutors, more after-school programs," said Bruce Reed, White House domestic policy adviser. "We can't sit by and watch these trends continue."

    But critics of the Clinton administration say it is already a federal offense for a juvenile to carry a gun to school, and that the balanced budget agreement increased spending on the Safe and Drug-Free School Act.

    "To think that if the federal government will just pass three more laws and somehow that's going to give us more peace and more hope for our young people is such an unrealistic view," said Rep. John Kasich, R-Ohio. "It's not the answer."

    White House aides acknowledge that parents are far more important than politicians when it comes to fighting crime. But the White House says more prosecutors and recreation programs would help.


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