FBI Report on School Violence an Eye Opener

For the first time ever, the FBI has released a study of crimes at schools, colleges and universities -- and the report offers a snapshot of who the perpetrators are and what type of crimes they commit.

While shootings including Columbine and the recent Virginia Tech massacre grab the nation's attention, the data from 2000 through 2004 shows that 558,219 crimes were reported, with 180,688 of those offenses reported as assaults.

Arrests from all reported incidents totaled 181,468 -- and 96 percent of the individuals arrested for crimes against another person were picked up for assault.

Assault categories include simple assault, or those committed without a weapon, which accounted for 129,675 incidents, and aggravated assault, or assault committed with a weapon, which accounted for 15,298 reports. There were also 35,715 incidents of intimidation.

According to the FBI report, most offenders were 13 to 15 years old, with whites accounting for 71 percent of the total.

The data show in 27 incidents over the period, 37 people were killed, because of multiple victims in several incidents.

"The attention we see after Columbine ... and Virginia Tech, the issue becomes the rampage shooter… the numbers show you school violence is an issue every day," said David Resch, unit chief of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit in Quantico, Va.

"Reported offenders of crime in schools were most likely 13-15 white males who the victims reportedly knew. However, there was nearly an equally large number of 16-18 year old reported offenders," the report notes.

In the five-year period, 13-15-year-olds were involved in 149,622 incidents, and 16-18-year-olds were involved in 120,959 incidents. Some analysts believe the difference in numbers between age groups could be attributed to offenders dropping out of school.

The use of knives and cutting instruments is more widespread than firearms in campus violence, with 10,970 knives being used to commit crimes, compared to the 3,461 times firearms were reportedly used. Handguns were most often reported being involved in 58 percent of the gun crimes.

Tom Bush, assistant director for the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services, said a lesson for parents is to "make sure you talk to your kids about knives ... this is serious."

The report finds that offenders suspected of substance abuse were more likely to be using drugs than alcohol: Reports of offenders suspected of using drugs totaled 32,366, while reports of alcohol use totaled 5,844.

The data show that the 558,219 crimes reported to law enforcement agencies account for 3.3 percent of the more than 17 million crime incidents reported via the National Incident Based Reporting System.