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Release date: 14 September 2010
School aged children are much safer at school than they are out of school, according to new research released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.
The Bureau examined all 3,733 incidents of assault recorded by NSW police officers as having occurred on school premises during school hours and involving school children between 2005 and 2009.
The police-recorded free-text narratives of a random sample of 300 incidents which occurred in 2009 were also examined to determine the type of victim and offender involved and the location on the school premises where the incident occurred.
The recorded rate of assault on school aged children
off grounds in 2009 (432.5/100,000 of school aged population) was found to be more than four times higher than the recorded rate on government school grounds (106.2 per 100,000 of enrolled student population).
Over the five years covered by the study, there was a statistically significant upward trend in the rate of recorded assault incidents between school-aged children on government school premises during school hours. While the upward trend in assaults on school premises may be due to an actual increase in assaults, there is also reason to believe that, in recent years, schools have been much more likely to report assaults to police.
The Bureau found no evidence that assaults between school-aged children on school grounds are becoming more serious or that the use of weapons is becoming more prevalent. The vast majority (92.1% in 2009) of police-recorded assaults involve no weapon.
The typical police-recorded assault between school-aged children on school grounds during school hours occurs in the afternoon in a government secondary school, involves two students of the same gender (generally boys) aged between 13 and 15 years, involves no weapon and no injuries or only minor injuries to the victim.
The most common locations for these incidents are either the playground/oval or school corridors/staircases/toilet blocks/gymnasium.
Although the majority of assaults (78.6%) are between students, in 11.8 per cent of cases the victim is a school employee and the offender is a student.
Police-recorded assaults by teachers on students are very rare (3%).
Most offenders (64.2%) are not charged with an offence but the likelihood of a charge depends greatly on the level of injury to the victim.
Criminal proceedings were initiated in 45 per cent of cases where there were multiple injuries, or mid-level or major physical injuries but in only 24 per cent of cases where there was no visible injury.
Commenting on the findings, the Director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that they stand in stark contrast to the picture of school violence frequently presented in the media.
Further enquiries: Don Weatherburn 9231-9190 or 0419-494-408