The most recent Violence and Vandalism Report for New Jersey schools finds a decrease in some areas such as vandalism, a leveling-off of weapons incidents – but an increase in overall violent incidents. The report also found abuse of prescription drugs decreasing, but the use of marijuana increasing.
The information is in the report “Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse in New Jersey Schools,” released last week by the New Jersey Department of Education. The report provides trends for the 2009-2011school years.
Violence increased by 5.6 percent overall during the three-year period from 2008-2009 to 2010-2011. Assaults decreased by 8 percent, but incidents of harassment/intimidation/bullying and threats increased by 19.9 percent.
Vandalism incidents declined by more than 30 percent over the three years ending in 2010-2011. Property damage incidents declined by 35 percent, fireworks went down 16 percent, thefts dropped by 35 percent, trespassing went down 45 percent, and burglaries declined by 30 percent.
Weapons incidents remained fairly level over the three-year period ending in 2010-2011. However, incidents involving a weapon other than a firearm increased by 25 percent, the most notable of which involving unidentified weapons (up 98 percent), knives (up nearly 11 percent), and air guns (up 81 percent).
Substance abuse – specifically possession – increased 37 percent in the three-year period. While abuse of prescription drugs is down, the use of marijuana accounted for 69 percent of the total number of reported substance incidents in 2010-2011 – even exceeding alcohol-related incidents.
State officials could not determine whether the higher numbers were due to increases in violent incidents, or to more thorough reporting among local school officials.
The Violence and Vandalism reports are produced annually by the Department of Education. All reports since 1999 are listed on the department’s website.