School-Based Surveillance of Violence, Injury, and Disciplinary Actions

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Paul Kingery and Aaron Alford

Hamilton Fish Institute

This report uses surveys of students to cast doubt on the validity of data from Gun-Free Schools Act (GFSA) reports on the number of guns in schools. The Institute report shows that student surveys, such as the Monitoring the Future Study and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health showed significantly more guns in schools than have been reported by school principals. The reasons for such a discrepancy, the report found, is that students often know about guns in schools but do not report them to administrators, administrators have trouble finding guns without student reporting, the reports reflect only suspensions and expulsions, and administrators report fewer incidents than the number they are aware of because they do not understand reporting requirements or they fear placing their jobs and school funding in jeopardy.

The authors list some alternatives to the GFSA-required reporting. New surveillance tools include software that monitors incidents of school violence and crimes, and a new website that allows students to anonymously report problems they see in school ( Also, the authors say, school administrators need to be made aware of the problem of underreporting, and school staff members need a system of reporting incidents. 21 pages. Free. Hamilton Fish Institute, 2121 K St., NW, Ste. 200, Washington, DC 20037. (202) 496-2200.

-Amy Bracken