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Campus Safety Statistics

Colleges and Universities

High profile crimes put campus safety in the media spotlight and can make prospective students and their families think that college campuses are inherently dangerous places. The statistics compiled annually by the United States Department of Education tells a story that may surprise you.

The Department of Education (DOE) collects data from more than 10,000 college and university campuses each year. Every post-secondary school, regardless of size or courses offered, must report crime statistics if they receive Title IV funding. The crimes reported are organized under three main headings:

  • Criminal Offenses
  • Hate Crimes
  • Arrests and Disciplinary Actions

Each of these headings is then broken down into various subheadings depending on where the incident took place. With the inclusion of the third category - Arrests and Disciplinary Actions - incidents that do not result in arrest are recorded. This allows the DOE to track petty thefts, illegal drug use, and other situations that do not necessarily end up being prosecuted.

All of the data collected is publicly available on the DOE's website via the Campus Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool. This searchable interface allows an interested person to view data for all colleges based in the United States - whether campuses are located in a U.S. state, territory, or in a foreign country. Numerous search options allow data to be viewed for a specific college campus or for a group of campuses related by size, general location, program of study offered, and more.

Crime & Safety Statistics on Campus & Across the Nation

Crimes committed on college campuses - especially violent crimes - receive significant attention in the media, but are colleges and universities any more dangerous than cities across America? Let's compare the records compiled by the DOE in 2008 with the records on crimes across the entire United States, compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in the same year.

For ease of comparison - since there were 18.2 million enrolled college students and more than 304 million total Americans - all statistics will be given in a "cases per 100,000" format.

From all public and private post-secondary educational institutions, the DOE recorded 243 cases of burglary per 100,000 students while the FBI recorded 730 cases nationwide per 100,000 Americans. On campuses and at residence halls, 24 motor vehicle thefts were reported per 100,000 students compared to 315 per 100,000 Americans.

These numbers alone suggest that a student's personal property and belongings may be safer on a college campus than they would be in an average American city. The numbers related to violent crimes tell a similar story.

On college campuses and in dormitories, 20 aggravated assaults and 25 forcible sex offenses were recorded per 100,000 students. In that same year, the FBI's statistics show that 275 aggravated assaults and 29 forcible sex offenses occurred per 100,000 Americans. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter are grouped together in the records, and just .1 of these tragedies was reported per 100,000 college and university students while 5.4 were reported for every 100,000 Americans.

Taken together, the numbers indicate that a person in the general American population is ten times more likely to become the victim of a violent crime than a college student on campus or in the residence hall. Despite high profile tragedies, the annual campus safety statistics compiled by the Department of Education show that colleges and universities remain safe places for students of all ages to continue their educations.

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