The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) released its first Violence and Vandalism report to document the impact of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act on Tuesday, Oct. 2. The impact is measured by the Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) category.
“We are committed to being as transparent as possible about circumstances that impact the health and safety of our students with the goal of ensuring every child in New Jersey can learn in a safe and supportive learning environment,” NJDOE Commissioner Chris Cerf said. “This report provides important information to districts, schools, parents and the public about the areas where programs and policies are having a positive impact, or where more support may be needed.”
For the 2011-12 school year, the Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District, which includes Absegami, Oakcrest and Cedar Creek high schools, saw 137 total incidents, including 54 incidents of violence and 15 incidents of vandalism. These incidents included six in which weapons were used and 34 in which a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) was involved. There were 29 HIB incidents. The total enrollment for the district was 3,673 students.
The report did not break down the incidents by school.
The total incidents between the three high schools was the highest number of total incidents in Atlantic County. The Atlantic City School District saw 142 total incidents. Atlantic City led the county in violence (85), vandalism (23), and CDS (29). Atlantic City’s enrollment was 6,666, the second highest in the county behind Egg Harbor Township’s 7,784.
The Port Republic and Margate school districts each reported no incidents. Margate’s total enrollment was 492, and Port Republic’s was 120.
There were 1,050 total incidents throughout the county’s 24 school districts. This included 351 violent incidents, 81 incidents of vandalism, 47 weapons-related incidents, 164 involving CDS and 430 HIB incidents.
For the 2011-12 school year, the Galloway Township School District saw 94 total incidents, including 87 incidents of HIB. There two incidents in each of the other categories, including violence, vandalism, weapons and CDS. There were 3,410 students enrolled in the district’s four elementary schools and one middle school.
Information wasn’t available for this year for the Galloway Community Charter School. During the previous two school years combined, the charter school reported just one incident, of violence in 2010-11 when enrollment was 218.
The Galloway School District also reported just one incident, of violence, in 2010-11 when it had an enrollment of 3,415. In 2009-10, the school district had an enrollment of 3,513 and reported four incidents, including three violent incidents, one of vandalism, one involving a weapon and none involving CDS.
In 2010-11, Greater Egg, with an enrollment of 3,856 reported 142 total incidents, including 83 violent incidents, 16 incidents of vandalism, 13 involving weapons and 31 involving CDS. In 2009-10, the district, with an enrollment of 3,888 reported 99 total incidents, with 64 being classified as violent, eight as vandalism, five involving a weapon and 24 involving CDS.
NJDOE released the following statewide information stemming from this year’s report:
he total number of incidents reported increased approximately 50% from 17,386 in 2010-11 to 26,139 in 2011-12. This indicates that the ABR has shed light on the issues of HIB and has led to better identification and reporting of incidents. This is a positive development that will ultimately lead to better interventions.
- In the newly-defined HIB category, there were 12,024 incidents of HIB reported in 2011-12. As previously noted, the 2011-12 school year was the first year of the new HIB category and therefore this reflects a new baseline upon which to compare in future years.
- In the violence category, there were 2,009 fewer total incidents, from 10,407 in 2009-2010 to 8,398 in 2011-2012. However, incidents of HIB are now reported as a separate category when previously these incidents were included in this category. As such, it is more appropriate to compare the following sub-categories over the three-year time period:
o Reported assaults declined by 102 from 2009-2010 to 2011-2012, which represents a decrease of approximately 3.2 percent.
o Reported fights decreased by 356, from 2009-2010 to 2011-2012, which represents a decrease of approximately 9.2 percent.
o Reported criminal threats decreased by 66, from 2009-2010 to 2011-2012, which represents a decrease of approximately 32 percent.
o Reported incidents of robbery/extortion have decreased by 20, from 2009-2010 to 2011-2012, which represents a decrease of approximately 20.8 percent.
o There were 1,263 reported incidents of threat in 2011-12. As incidents of HIB and threat were a combined category prior to the passage of the ABR, there is no comparison data available for previous years.
- In the vandalism category, the reported number of total incidents declined by approximately 14.4 percent over the three-year period as follows: burglary (11 or approximately 30.6 percent), property damage (234 or approximately 23.4 percent), fire alarm offenses (23 or approximately 31.1 percent), fireworks (14 or approximately 28.6 percent), theft (27 or approximately 2.9 percent), trespassing (14 or approximately 15.8 percent), and bomb threats (13 or approximately 23.2 percent). The one exception was the number of arson incidents which increased from 60 in 2009-10 to 64 in 2011-12, or approximately 6.7 percent.
- In the weapons category, reported firearms incidents (handguns and rifles) increased from five incidents reported in 2009-10 to nine in 2011-12. In addition, incidents in the “other weapons” category increased by 55 during the same three-year period or approximately five percent.
- In the substance category, the number of incidents of possession of substances increased by 149, or approximately 15 percent from 995 in 2009-10 to 1,144 in 2011-12. Marijuana accounts for the majority (67.9 percent) of the total number of substance incidents reported in 2011-12, and the number of incidents involving marijuana decreased from 2,543 in 2010-11 to 2472 in 2011-12, or a decrease of approximately 2.8 percent.
The report is filed in compliance with the 1982 Public School Safety Law, which documents the extent of violence and vandalism in New Jersey’s public schools. Districts must report incidents if they occur on school grounds during school hours, on a school bus or at a school-sponsored event, the NJDOE said.
NJDOE has taken steps to assist districts in identifying programs, practices and other resources to help reduce the number of incidents each year.
NJDOE regularly provides information for schools and parents at the Keeping Our Kids Safe, Healthy and in School website: http://www.state.nj.us/education/students/safety.
It also provides guidance, trainings and funding to districts towards supporting the implementation of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act. In April 2011, NJDOE released a Model Policy and Guidance For Prohibiting Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying. Additionally, in late winter and early spring 2011, 30 trainings were provided in each county to orient school staff to the requirements, NJDOE said.
A copy of the report and summaries of district/school data can be found on DOE’s Web site at: http://www.state.nj.us/education/schools/vandv/index.html.