Data shows more than 11,000 incidents of assaults against students in Oklahoma schools

Wednesday, February 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- There were more than 11,000 incidents of assaults against students at Oklahoma's public schools during the past academic year and more than 900 assaults against staff and teachers, according to data from the state's school districts.

The data released Tuesday comes from 501 of the state's 544 school districts receiving federal Title IV Safe and Drug-Free Schools funds, state Superintendent Sandy Garrett said.

While such information has been gathered in the past, the data from the 1999-2000 school year was the most comprehensive, Garrett said.

The data showed 11,066 assaults against students and 10,396 bullying/harassment incidents between students, said Nancy Kabriel, director of Health, Safety and Physical Education.

"In most respects these results are alarming, probably because we don't have previous years' data or nationally comparable data to put things into perspective," Garrett said. "Still, more and more school are utilizing effective, researched-based prevention programs with other initiatives such as character education, alternative education, conflict-resolution training, service learning and promoting the use of the SAFE-CALL hot line."

The majority of assaults occurred in the middle school or junior high level, 4,550, while the lowest number occurred in high school, 2592. There were 3,924 incidents of assaults against students in the elementary category.

The highest number of bullying/harassment incidents also came in the middle school or junior high level, 4,238, while 3,412 incidents were reported in the elementary level. There were 2,701 such incidents at the high school level, statistics showed.

"In order for school communities to implement effective programs of prevention, administrators, community members, Safe School Committee members, teachers, students and school districts'

Title IV Advisory Councils need to know what the problems are,"

Kabriel said.

Assaults against teachers or other staff numbered 906 and there were 1,686 bullying/harassment incidents against staffers, the statistics showed. Most of the incidents occurred on the middle school or junior high level, 700. There were 577 such incidents reported on the high school level and 409 on the elementary school level, the statistics showed.

Assaults, gang-related violence, bullying/harassment and incidents on on school buses were higher at the middle school and junior high level than any other, the Education Department noted.

The middle-level and elementary years must become more of a priority for school counseling and character education efforts, Garrett said.