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Children's Health

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CDC: School Homicides Are Rare

Study Shows Homicide Rate Is Holding Steady
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 17, 2008 -- Homicides in U.S. schools remain rare but have not gone down significantly since 1999, according to a CDC study.

CDC officials say that despite sensational media coverage of school shootings, schools are relatively safe for children.

Homicide is the second most common cause of death among children 5-18 years of age. But the study points out that less than 1% of all youth homicides occur at school.

"Schools remain safe places," Jeff Hall, PhD, a CDC behavioral scientist and author of the study, tells WebMD.

Between 1999 and 2006, 116 students were killed at school, mostly by shootings. That's an average annual rate of 0.03 per 100,000 students. Boys were more than four times as likely to be victims as girls.

Urban schools were also more than three times more likely to be the scene of a homicide as rural schools, the study shows.

Hall says that efforts to curb school crowding and stepped up monitoring of weapons possession and violence may have had an effect on falling homicide rates between 1992 and 1999. Though it was less clear why rates have only held steady since.

"Measures to make sure violence is taken seriously might also have had an impact," Hall says.

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