FINDINGS FROM THE K-12 SURVEY PROJECT
A Special Report of the NGCRC
George W. Knox, Ph.D.
The purpose of this report is to provide findings from a preliminary analysis of the data from an NGCRC research project called “The 2006 School Survey of Gang-Related Issues”. The purpose of this study was to examine how the gang problem and related problems in American public schools. It is important to emphasize that this particular report is a preliminary report providing only the descriptive statistical findings of the research. There are many qualitative findings from the research not yet reported, including the content of narrative comments, documents, written policies, etc. Additional analysis is currently underway at the NGCRC and more findings can be expected in the future.
THE TASK FORCE APPROACH
The task force approach was used for this research project. Sponsored by the NGCRC, the task force included volunteers who offered ideas for item development, suggestions, and other types of useful feedback. There were a number of people who were contributing in this fashion who were particularly helpful during the early and formative stages of the research process.
The task force included the following persons whom the NGCRC would like to take this opportunity to express special gratitude (listed in alphabetical order): Jennifer Adams, Ph.D. (West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV); Benjamin Anthony (Dept. Of Juvenile Justice, Richmond, VA); Lamont Applegate (Gang Specialist, Hudson, Michigan); Lianne Archer (CSD of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, NY); Ron “Cook” Barrett (Gang Prevention Specialist, Albany, NY);John Beasley (Security Police Specialist, Plano ISD, Plano, TX); Lebbeus Brown (Gang Specialist, Gays Mills, WI); Marcel W. DuBois (Youth Gang/Graffiti, Calgary Police, Calgary, Alberta, Canada); Andrew Grascia (Gang Specialist, White Plains, NY); Aida Hernandez (Rippon Middle School, Woodbridge, VA); Shirley R. Holmes, Ph.D. (North Georgia College & State University, Dahlonega, GA); Janice Joseph, Ph.D. (Richard Stockton College, Pomona, NJ);George Knox, Ph.D. (Director, NGCRC, Chicago, IL); Sonja E. Manning (Dept. Of Juvenile Justice, Bon Air, VA); Dr. William Marginson (Gang Specialist, New Bedford, MA); Fred Moreno (Gang Specialist, Chicago, IL); Robert Mulvaney (Gang Specialist, Lansing, MI); Sgt. Jerome Rudie (Gang Specialist, Viroqua, WI); Jeffrey P. Rush, DPA (University of LA at Monroe, Monroe, LA); Sgt. Correa Sergio (USMC, Alameda, CA); Chriscelyn Tussey (Gang Specialist, Indiana, PA); Charla Waxman, Ph.D. (Gang Specialist, Grayslake, IL); Anton Welsh (Dept. Of Juvenile Justice, Mitchells, VA); Doris D. Yates, Ph.D. (Gang Specialist, Hayward, CA).
There were of course others who helped in a variety of ways throughout the duration of the research project. We are grateful in particular to NGCRC volunteers who provided editing assistance, typing, and data base management help.
The survey methodology sought to study public K-12 schools, with a special emphasis on high schools where most problems are found. The characteristics of the final sample therefore reflect that goal: the sample for this research includes 83.7 percent high schools, 10.7 percent middle schools, and 5.6 percent elementary/other schools. High school staff tend to know more about the problems associated with gangs, violence, drugs, hate groups, etc.
At the same time, we did not want to completely exclude other types of schools because it was also important to have geographical representation. We wanted a very representative and geographically diverse sample. Our final sample therefore reflects data from N = 46 different states. We did not get respondents from four states: Alaska, Iowa, Kentucky or Oklahoma. Still, 46 out of 50 states gives a very broad cross-section of American schools. The type of city represented is generally very random. The zip code distribution as well is very clearly dispersed throughout the USA.
Our sample size for this research includes N = 212 respondents from cities large and small.
ESTIMATED ADA NATIONWIDE IS 90.7 PERCENT
The survey included the question “please estimate the average daily attendance (ADA) for students attending your school during the most recent year”. The mean was a value of 90.7 percent overall. Which means, basically, at any given time during the school day: an average of one out of every ten public school students is not in school throughout America.
SRO STAFFING PATTERNS REMAINED FAIRLY CONSTANT
Staffing patterns in K-12 schools for security staff such as School Resource Officers (SRO’s) has remained fairly constant during the last year. Most of the respondents (82.9%) indicated that there was no increase and there was no decrease, but rather that the number of security staff such as SRO’s remained about the same during the last one year time period. Some 8.8 percent indicated that they had added new security staff such as SRO’s, and some 8.3 percent indicated that they had lost security staff such as SRO’s.
SRO COVERAGE IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS
The survey asked “does your school have a part-time or full-time School Resource Officer (SRO)” where the response modes included “no SRO” as well. Some 13.1 percent of the responding schools indicated that they had a part-time SRO, this would typically be the situation where one SRO is shared with several schools. About two-thirds of the schools in America have a full-time SRO, as some 67.1 percent of the respondents indicated that they had a full time SRO at their school. Still, about a fifth of American public schools have no SRO at all, as some 19.8 percent indicated they had no SRO.
INCREASED ENROLLMENT IS THE NORM
The survey asked “during the last year, has your school experienced and increase or decrease in student enrollment”. Some 50.9 percent indicated an increase in student enrollment during the last year. Only 13.1 percent indicated a decrease in student enrollment. And36 percent indicated that student enrollment had remained about the same as in the previous year.
ABOUT TWO-THIRDS OF AMERICAN SCHOOLS HAVE WRITTEN POLICIES AGAINST GANG ACTIVITY
The survey asked “does your school have a written policy that prohibits gang activity on campus”. Some 67.9 percent of the respondents indicated “yes”, that their school does in fact have a written policy against gang activity. Thus, about a third (32.1%) of the schools in America are reporting that they do not actually have a written policy that prohibits gang activity on their campus.
Gang activity might normally include a long list of activities that young gang members engage in, not necessarily limited to, but probably including some of these behaviors and offenses: bullying, gang recruiting, gang intimidation, gang extortion, gang threats against students, gang threats against teachers, gang graffiti/tagging, gang shoutouts in the hallways and open areas around the school, gang sales of drugs, gang involvement in “protection”, etc.
MOST SCHOOLS PROHIBIT GANG SYMBOLS IN CLOTHING
The overall vast majority of American public K-12 schools have policies in place that prohibit the wearing of clothing with gang symbols. The survey asked “does your school prohibit the wearing of gang symbols on the clothing that students wear to school”. Some 92.3 percent of the schools responding indicated “yes”, that these schools do in fact prohibit such gang related clothing. Only 7.2 percent of the schools indicated that they did not prohibit this kind of behavior.
SOME SCHOOL COLORS/SYMBOLS GET MISTAKEN FOR GANG COLORS/SYMBOLS
The survey included the question “are there any colors or symbols that are commonly represented at your school that probably have a secondary meaning with regard specifically to the gang that uses such colors and symbols”. Some 56.9 percent said “yes”. Some 43.1 percent said “no”.
OVER A THIRD OF AMERICAN SCHOOLS ENFORCE A GROOMING CODE
The survey included the question “does your school enforce specific types of grooming codes for hair, make-up, etc”. Some 36.9 percent of the responding school indicated that “yes”, they did in fact have and enforce such grooming codes. Some 63.1 percent of the respondents indicated “no” they did not enforce such codes.
ALMOST ALL SCHOOL PROHIBIT GANG/HATE GROUP SLOGANS ON CLOTHING APPAREL
The survey included the question “does your school prohibit gang and hate group slogans on clothing and apparel (shirts, belts, shoes, socks, etc)”. Some 96.4 percent indicated “yes”, that they do prohibit gang/hate group slogans on clothing. Only 3.6 percent indicated “no”.
HIGHER PERCEPTION OF SAFETY IN WEARING SCHOOL UNIFORMS
The survey asked the respondents to express their perception of school safety as it related to the policy of mandatory school uniforms. The survey asked “in your opinion, are students safer with a policy that requires them to wear a uniform mode of dress to school”. Some 76 percent of the respondents indicated “yes”, that indeed they believed students are safer with a uniform mode of dress. Only about a fourth (24%) did not believe school uniforms would result in higher student safety.
SCHOOL UNIFORMS COULD REDUCE GANG ACTIVITIES
The survey also asked “in your opinion, do you believe that a policy requiring students to wear uniforms can reduce gang activities in the school setting”. Here the support for uniforms increases in intensity, as there is an even greater level of support for school safety when it is linked to the issue of reducing gang activity. Some 78.6 percent of the respondents felt “yes”, that school uniforms can reduce gang activities in the school setting. Only about a fifth of the respondents (21.4%) did not believe in the notion that wearing school uniforms would reduce gang activities. The idea behind the link between school uniforms and reducing gang activity is to not allow a gang to exploit color patterns (black and blue, black and red, etc), sports team logos, or specialty brandname clothing as ways of “representing” their gang identity. Gang members commonly find such ways to “fly their colors”, “represent their nation”, “fly their flag”, in ways that while on the surface they appear harmless, might in reality have considerable local subcultural meaning.
FOUR-FIFTHS BELIEVE SCHOOL UNIFORMS ELIMINATE CERTAIN GANG PROBLEMS
The survey asked “in your opinion, do school uniforms eliminate a lot of the problems associated with gang colors and gang symbols”. The results showed that 80.5 percent of the responding schools said “yes”. Some 19.5 percent indicated “no”.
TWO FIFTHS OF AMERICAN SCHOOLS REPORTED GANG FIGHTS NEAR THEIR SCHOOL IN THE LAST YEAR
The survey asked “were there any gang fights between rival gang members in and around your school during the last one year period”. Some 42.2 percent indicated “yes”. Some 57.8 percent indicated “no”.
OVER A THIRD OF AMERICAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS REPORT COMPLAINTS OF GANG RECRUITING NEAR THEIR SCHOOL IN THE LAST YEAR
The survey asked “were there any complaints of gang recruiting going on in and around your school during the last one year period”. Some 35 percent indicated “yes”. Some 65 percent indicated “no”.
FEW SCHOOLS PROVIDE MANDATORY GANG TRAINING TO TEACHERS AND STAFF
The survey asked “do the teachers or staff members in your school receive any mandatory training on or about gang issues”. Only 16.4 percent of the schools responding indicated “yes”, that their teachers or staff receive such mandatory gang training. That gang training provides basic “gang identification” information and “do’s and don’ts” in responding to gang problems, and is valuable particularly to prevent or de-escalate gang problems. But 83.6 percent of American schools are not ensuring that their teachers or staff receive such mandatory training.
TEACHERS AND THE TRAINING THEY RECEIVE
The survey included the baseline question “how many teachers are employed in your school”. The mean or average was 109. The range was from a low of 15 to a high of 350.
The survey included the question “estimate how many of the teachers employed in your school have been trained in gang awareness”. The result indicated a mean of 31.6.
The survey included the question “estimate how many teachers employed in your school have been trained in gang identification”. The result indicated a mean of 27.4.
The survey included the question “estimate how many teachers employed in your school have been trained in dealing with hate group issues”. The result indicated a mean of 23.8.
MASSIVE LEVEL OF SUPPORT FOR THE IDEA OF REQUIRING SCHOOL TEACHERS TO HAVE SOME KIND OF GANG AWARENESS TRAINING
The survey included the question “do you feel some level of gang awareness training should be required for K-12 public school teachers”. Some 94.6 percent said “yes”. Only 5.4 percent indicated “no”. Thus, there is massive support for the idea of requiring some level of gang awareness training for the teachers in America’s public schools.
MASSIVE SUPPORT FOR THE IDEA THAT SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS NEED GANG TRAINING
The survey asked “do you feel gang training should be required for certain types of school administrators”. Some 93.1 percent said yes. Only 6.9 percent said no.
A FOURTH OF AMERICAN SCHOOLS REPORT A GANG SHOOTING NEAR THEIR SCHOOL IN THE LAST YEAR
“It’s starting to look a lot like Iraq”, said a mother of an elementary school student in Chicago who shared her views about gang violence, particularly gun violence, near and around school buildings in recent years, “we shouldn’t have to worry about that kind of thing, it seems like something more common to a third world country in the throes of civil war”. The fact is gun fire in and around school property is a major issue in larger cities such as Chicago.
The survey asked “during the last year, have there been any gang shootings nearby the geographical location of your school”. Some 26.1 percent of the respondents indicated “yes”, that there had in fact been gang shooting near their school in the last year.
PERCENT OF SECURITY PROBLEMS THAT ARE GANG-RELATED
By “gang related” here we are saying that the security problem was caused by or involved gang members or gang associates. The survey, therefore, included the question “please estimate what percentage of the security problems in your school last year were caused by or involved gang members or gang associates”. They either caused the problem or were involved in the problem in some way is what this means in terms of “gang related”. The mean was that 11.3 percent of the security problems in the last year were caused by gang members or gang associates.
PERCENT OF THREATS OF VIOLENCE IN SCHOOL THAT ARE GANG-RELATED
The survey asked “please estimate what percentage of the threats of violence in your school last year were caused by or involved gang members or gang associates”. Here the mean was that 12.4 percent of the threats of violence were gang-related (caused by or involved gang members/associates).
OVER THREE-FOURTHS WANT A GANG PREVENTION PROGRAM
There is a high demand for gang prevention programs according to this survey. The survey asked the question “in your opinion, would it be good public policy to implement a gang prevention program in your jurisdiction”. Some 77.2 percent said “yes”, that they do support the idea of having a gang prevention program in their jurisdiction. Some 22.8 percent did not feel they needed a gang prevention program in their jurisdiction.
VERY HIGH LEVEL OF SUPPORT FOR FAITH-BASED GANG PREVENTION SERVICES
There appears to be a fairly high level of support, on the surface at least, for what are called faith-based gang prevention services in terms of their potential utilization in the K-12 curriculum. The survey asked “if they could be offered at your school, would you like to see faith-based gang prevention services integrated into the K-12 curriculum”. Some 46 percent of the respondents indicated “yes”, that they would in fact like to see such faith-based gang prevention services integrated into their publicly funded school curriculum. About half of the respondents (54%) did not want this option.
STUDENTS WHO ARE GANG MEMBERS
The survey included the question “if you had to estimate, how many of the students at your school do you feel are active gang members”. The mean was 37.6 students per school were gang members. So the typical or average public school would be expected to have about 37 gang members, on average; with a range from zero to 500 overall.
STUDENTS WHO ARE ASSOCIATING WITH A GANG
The survey included the question “if you had to estimate, how many of the students at your school do you feel are associating with gang members”. The mean or arithmetic average for this variable was 125.6 per school. The range though was from a low of zero to a high of 2000.
MORE THAN A THIRD OF AMERICAN SCHOOLS REPORT GANG CONFLICTS
The survey included the question “are there periodically any gang conflicts between students in your school”. Some 37.7 percent answered “yes”. Some 62.3 percent indicated “no”.
PERCENTAGE OF DISCIPLINARY PROBLEMS CAUSED BY STUDENTS IN GANGS
The survey included the question “please estimate the percentage of disciplinary problems at your school during 2005 that were caused by gang members or gang associates”. The result showed a mean or arithmetic average score of 12 percent for this factor. Thus, the best estimate is that about 12 percent of all school disciplinary problems are caused by students involved with gangs.
GANG DISTURBANCES MORE COMMON IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS THAN IN STATE PRISONS
The survey included the question “were there any gang disturbances or fights involving gang members inside your school during the last year”. Here we found that 38.4 percent of the respondents indicated “yes”. That is actually higher than the rate of “gang riots” or “gang disturbances” in American state prisons (see: www.ngcrc.com: prison gang research studies). If there was any one “social indicator” that was important for trying to estimate how serious the gang problem is in a local school, this one particular variable would probably figure prominently in such an equation explaining the variance in the severity of the local problem. By which we mean to say: we are predicting more problems in American public schools in the near future with regard to gang violence.
FEW SCHOOLS HAVE A GANG PREVENTION PROGRAM
The survey included the question “does your school currently have any type of gang prevention program”. The results indicated that 13.7 percent reported “yes”, that they do have a gang prevention program up and running. Most, some 86.3 percent, indicated “no” that their school lacks any kind of currently operating gang prevention program.
GANG GRAFFITI IS NOT DISAPPEARING
The survey asked “have you noticed an increase or decrease in gang graffiti during the last year”. Some 32.1 percent felt it increased in 2005. Some 12.1 percent felt it actually decreased in 2005. Some 35.3 percent felt there was no change in 2005. And some 20.5 percent reported no gang graffiti. The trend seems to be that gang graffiti is not going away. It is five times more likely to increase or remain at the same level than decrease is what the data suggests.
MORE THAN A HALF OF AMERICAN SCHOOLS REPORT GANG GRAFFITI IN THE SURROUNDING NEIGHBORHOOD AREA
The survey included the question “in the area surrounding your school location, is it possible to find examples of gang graffiti in the neighborhood (e.g., where a gang marks its turf or puts down another gang)”. Some 62.8 percent of the responding schools said “yes”. Some 37.2 percent indicated “no”.
FEMALE GANGS ARE FOUND NEAR A FIFTH OF ALL AMERICAN SCHOOLS
The survey included the question “are there any all female gangs that operate in and around the location of your school address”. The results showed that 22.5 percent indicated “yes”. Some 77.5 percent indicated “no”.
OVER HALF REPORT FEMALES INVOLVED IN LOCAL GANGS
The survey asked the question “are females also involved in the gangs that operate in or around your school jurisdiction”. Some 59.8 percent indicated “yes”. Some 40.2 percent said “no”.
FEMALES AS AN ESTIMATED PERCENTAGE OF THE TOTAL LOCAL GANG POPULATION
The survey included a follow-up question for those jurisdictions reporting that females are involved in the local gang problem. This follow-up question asked the respondent to “please estimate what percentage of the total gang member population in your area are females”. The results ranged from zero to 60 percent. The mean or arithmetic average was that about 9.7 percent of the local gang members were females. That figure parallels many other similar parameters for the estimate adding concurrent validity to the overall research methodology.
FOUR-FIFTHS OF AMERICAN SCHOOLS HAVE WRITTEN POLICIES PROHIBITING BULLYING
The survey asked “does your school have a written policy that prohibits bullying behavior”. Some 80.3 percent of the schools reported that “yes” they do have written policies that prohibit bullying behavior. Thus, about a fifth of American schools (19.7%) do not have their student behavior policies sufficiently articulated in written form to be able to specifically prohibit bullying behavior. The school that does not have such written policies prohibiting bullying behavior might be a school deserving of closer scrutiny as a school facing higher risks in terms of school safety issues.
BULLYING BEHAVIOR IS NOT LIMITED TO CLASSROOM
If we just put video cameras in all classrooms, would that eliminate bullying behavior in American public schools? “No” according to the results of our survey, because it is a matter of where exactly the bullying behavior occurs. Some of it does occur in the classroom, but it is not limited to the classroom, it can be anywhere else the students are located. The survey asked “from your experience, where does most of the bullying behavior actually occur”. Only 1.4 percent indicated the classroom. Some 61.5 percent indicated “outside of the classroom”, and some 37.2 percent indicated both the classroom and outside of the classroom. So, clearly, bully prevention initiatives need to be implemented outside of the classroom as well.
HALF THINK THEIR SCHOOLS NEED BULLY PREVENTION SERVICES
The survey asked “in your opinion, do you think your school needs more bully prevention program services”. Some 61.8 percent indicated “yes”, that they felt their school did need such bully prevention services. And 38.2 percent indicated “no”.
TWO-FIFTHS OF SCHOOLS REPORT BULLYING AGAINST GAY/LESBIAN STUDENTS
The survey asked the question “has your school seen the pattern where a bully picks on a victim because the intended victim is gay or lesbian”. Here some 44.3 percent indicated “yes”. Some 55.7 percent responded “no”.
THREE-FOURTHS BELIEVE SOME BULLYING IS RELATED TO RACIAL CONFLICT
The survey asked the question “in your opinion, do you think that some bullying behavior is related to racial or ethnic conflicts”. Here we find that 74.8 percent of the schools responding indicated “yes”, that indeed they believe some bullying is related to racial conflict. Some 25.2 percent indicated “no”.
BULLYING BEHAVIOR THAT IS ALSO A “HATE CRIME”
If some bullying behavior occurs because of the motivation of hatred towards the race of the victim, then it might be more than bullying, it might also be a hate crime or bias crime. The survey asked “has your school seen the pattern where a bully picks on a victim because of his/her race”. Here we find that 31.5 percent of the responding schools indicated “yes”, that they have seen this scenario. Thus, about two-thirds of the respondents (68.5%) indicated they had not seen this pattern in their school.
TWO-THIRDS OF AMERICAN SCHOOLS HAVE WRITTEN POLICIES PROHIBITING HATE GROUP ACTIVITY
The survey asked “does your school have a written policy that prohibits race/ethnic/religious “hate group” activity”. Here we find that some 64.2 percent of American public schools do in fact have a written policy that prohibits such hate group activity. Still, that means about a third (35.8%) of American schools do not have such written policies in place to expressly prohibit hate group or extremist group activity in school. This is, obviously, a growing area of concern for the public and school administrators alike.
PERCENTAGE OF DISCIPLINARY PROBLEMS CAUSE BY RACIAL EXTREMISTS
The survey included the question “please estimate the percentage of disciplinary problems at your school during 2005 that were caused by persons with racist extremist group affiliations (neo-nazi, skinheads, etc)”. The arithmetic average or mean value for this was that 3.2 percent of the American public school disciplinary problems could be explained by students from such extremist groups.
Sometimes local or regional or national extremist groups will intentionally recruit from the ranks of K-12 public school students, by handing out literature and “hate group” propaganda to children near the schools.
A FOURTH OF AMERICAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS REPORT WHITE RACIST GROUPS OPERATING IN AND AROUND THE LOCATION OF THEIR SCHOOL ADDRESS
The survey included the question “are there any groups of skinheads or others who espouse a white racist philosophy that operate in and around the location of your school address”. The results indicated that 25.9 percent reported “yes”, that they do face this kind of problem of local skinhead or white racist groups.
ABOUT HALF OF SCHOOLS CONDUCT LOCKER SEARCHES
The survey asked “does your school conduct locker searches at some point during the school year”. There is no requirement that American public schools search student lockers. It is rather something that is at the discretion of the school principal, usually in consultation with higher authorities in the local board of education. The results of our survey show that 50.2 percent of the school reported “yes” that their school does conduct locker searches at some point during the year; and that 49.8 percent indicated “no”.
DRUG SNIFFING DOGS APPEAR TO BE EASIER TO USE THAN LOCKER SEARCHES
Drug sniffing dogs can be used to “walk by” lockers and then zero in on any locations that come up hot, reducing the number of lockers that might have to be searched. So the survey asked “does your school make use of drug sniffing dogs to conduct drug searches”. Here some 60.5 percent indicated “yes”, and 39.5 percent indicated “no”.
METAL DETECTORS RARELY USED IN AMERICAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
It appears that it is a rarity for an American public school to regularly use working metal detectors. The survey asked “does your school require all students to pass through a metal detector when they seek to enter the school building”. Only 2.7 percent indicated “yes”. The overwhelming vast majority (97.3%) indicated “no”.
SCREENING FOR SEX OFFENDERS A RARITY IN AMERICAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
It appears that it is also a rarity for an American public school to regularly screen for whether or not a visitor to the building is or is not a sex offender. The survey asked “does your school scan the Drivers License of visitors to your school building to see if they are sex offenders”. Only 2.3 percent indicated “yes”. Thus, the overwhelming vast majority (97.7%) did not check to see if visitors were sex offenders.
TEACHER AND STAFF MEMBER ASSAULTS
The survey included the question “how many teachers or staff members or your school were assaulted during the last one year (12 month) period”. The results for this survey question ranged from a low of zero to a high of 30. The mean was a value of 1.2 per school.
THE RISK OF ABANDONED BUILDINGS NEAR AMERICAN SCHOOLS
Abandoned buildings are a risk for any community, and particularly school students, if the abandoned building is located or situated near a school property. The survey asked “are there any abandoned buildings located nearby the location of your school’s campus”. Most respondents stated “no”, that is some 84.9 percent indicated that there were not any abandoned buildings located near their school. Still, some 15.1 percent of the respondents indicated “yes”, that in fact there were such abandoned buildings located near the school campus. So it would appear to be a problem worthy of further analysis and social policy development.
A FOURTH OF AMERICAN SCHOOLS REPORT A DRUG SHOOTING NEAR THEIR SCHOOL IN THE LAST YEAR
The survey asked “during he last year, have there been any drug shootings nearby the geographical location of your school”. This parallels the gang shooting data, because more often than not it is in fact the gang selling the drugs. The gang problem and the drug problem are one in the same. What the survey reveals is that 26.4 percent of the respondents indicated “yes” that indeed there had been a drug shooting nearby their school in the last one year time period.
STUDENTS WHO ARE ASSOCIATING WITH DRUG ABUSERS
The survey included the question “what percentage of the students at your school do you feel are in a social network consisting of one ora more persons who regularly use illegal drugs”. The mean or average for this variable was 34.5 percent.
ABOUT HALF FEEL D.A.R.E. IS AN EFFECTIVE PROGRAM
The survey included the question “in your opinion, is the DARE program an effective program for preventing drug abuse among students”. Some 46.8 percent responded “yes”. And 53.2 percent responded “no”.
MOST SCHOOLS REPORT STUDENT DRUG ARRESTS IN THE LAST YEAR
The survey asked “were there any students arrested for drug sales or drug use at your school during the last one year period”. Some 84.7 percent responded “yes”. Some 15.3 percent indicated “no”. Thus, over four-fifths of American public schools report that in the last year there have been students arrested for drugs at the school.
ESTIMATED PERCENTAGE OF STUDENTS USING DRUGS
The survey included the question “what percentage of the students at your school do you feel are regularly using illegal drugs”. The mean, or arithmetic average, score was 24.5 percent.
ONLY HALF OF THE SCHOOLS HAVE A DRUG PREVENTION PROGRAM
The survey included the question “does your school currently have any type of drug prevention program”. Some 48.8 percent indicated “yes”, and the other half (51.2%) indicated “no”.
A THIRD OF AMERICAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS REPORT STUDENTS ARRESTED FOR METHAMPHETAMINE DRUG OFFENSES IN THE LAST YEAR
The survey included the question “have there been any arrests for possession, distribution or sales of methamphetamines among the students in your school during the last year”. Here we find that 34.9 percent of the respondents reported “yes”, that they have had students arrested for this type of “meth” drug offense during the last year.
MOST PREDICT THE METH DRUG PROBLEM TO ESCALATE IN THE FUTURE
The survey included the question “do you predict the methamphetamine problem for your students will grow, decrease, or remain the same in 2006". The results showed that 57.4 percent felt the meth problem would grow or increase. Only 2.4 percent felt the meth drug problem would decrease. And 40.2 percent felt the meth problem would remain about the same.
ABILITY TO IDENTIFY GANG/HATE SYMBOLS WHEN THEY SEE THEM
Would school officials be able to correctly identify gang/hate symbols if they saw them? We tested this in the survey, we included a series of questions asking the respondent to identify which – if any -- of some symbols would be allowed or disallowed at their schools. Therefore the survey was more than a survey, it was an actual cognitive test of school officials. Further we did this with multiple questions or items, and by use of both symbols and verbal expressions as will be explained.
Low Ability to Identify Which of the Five Signs Are Gang/Hate Group Signs:
Question number 50 in the survey gave five different symbols, four of which were clearly hate group or gang symbols. How did the respondents do at correctly identifying them?
Question number 50 asked “which of the following types of symbols would not be allowed at your school if a student had these symbols on an item of clothing (shirt, hat, etc). Please put a large “X” through any and all of the symbols that wound NOT be allowed at your school”. Then the pictures of the five symbols followed: (1) Aryan Nations standard symbol, (2) Aryan Nations symbol for security/racial purity, (3) twisted cross or the swastika, (4) a symbol used by the Aryan Nations, and (5) the standard “King” symbol for the Latin Kings street gang.
The standard symbol known as the Aryan Nations symbol was identified by only 42.1 percent of the respondents. Therefore in most schools (57.9 percent) the symbol would be allowed. Allowed, of course, only until the issue blew up in the local media.
A second variation of the Aryan Nations symbol, the hate group symbol for Aryan security and racial purity (also used by the KKK) was identified by only 34.4 percent of the schools; thus in 65.6 percent of the schools it would be allowed.
The third symbol was the twisted cross or a swastika, the fifth SS division, a “hate group” symbol frequently used by Skinheads, and it appeared as symbol #3 in item50, and was identified by 59.7 percent of the schools. But again, 40.3 percent did not identify the symbol.
The fourth symbol is a hate group symbol sometimes used by the Aryan Nations (one of the most well known hate groups in the world), but only 24.5 percent said it would be banned.
The fifth symbol was the Latin Kings, and was identified by 42.3 percent of the schools. Thus, in over half of the schools (57.7%) they would allow the gang symbol for one of America’s most vicious gangs.
Low Ability to Identify the Four Major Chicago Gang Signs
Question number 51 in the survey gave four different gang symbols, all of which were the actual symbols used by four of the largest and most vicious gangs in Chicago. Could the respondents identify these gang signs if they saw them. Again, the survey was more than a survey: it was in many respects a field experiment — could school personnel actually identify these common street gang symbols if they saw them.
Thus, question number 51 asked “which of the following types of symbols would not be allowed at your school if a student had these symbols on an item of clothing (shirt, hat, etc). Please place a large “X” through any and all of the symbols that would NOT be allowed at your school”. Then, four symbols were printed which were: (1) the pyramid and five pointed star symbol with the initial BPSN commonly known as the standard symbol of the “Black P. Stone Nation”, aka “El Rukns”, (2) the King’s crown symbol with five points, and the expression “Amor De Rey” commonly known as the symbol of the Latin Kings, (3) the top hat, and cane, and the initials “C.V.L.” commonly known as the symbols and expression for the Conservative Vice Lords, and (4) the initials “G.D.”, the number “74", the expression “B.O.S.” under the six pointed Star of David symbol, commonly known as the full set of symbols for what is probably America’s largest gang, the Gangster Disciples.
So, how well did the school respondents do in identifying these actual gang symbols?
Not very good, overall is the answer. About “half and half” is another way of looking at it. Half of the time they would get it right.
The first sign in item number 51 was an actual real gang sign: the sign for the Black P. Stone Nation (BPSN). For the Black P. Stone Nation, only 45 percent got it right: some 45 percent of the respondents indicated this symbol would not be allowed at their school. Which means, 55 percent of the time, the symbols would be allowed; until parents or the mass media discovered this symbol was associated with one of the first middle eastern foreign terrorism attempts on U.S. soil (their leader Jeff Fort had agreed to blow up some U.S. planes for Libya’s dictator).
For the second sign in item number 51, the standard Latin King street gang sign, unmistakable to anyone who knows about this gang, some 50 percent of the respondents indicated the symbol would not be allowed at their school. Which means, of course, that half of the schools in America would in fact allow the symbol: because they would not know it was the symbol of a very large American street gang.
The third symbol, that for the Conservative Vice Lords, one of the oldest gangs in America, which has existed since 1959 ---- only 46.4 percent of the respondents indicated the symbols and the expression would not be allowed at their school. Thus, in most cases (53.6%) the schools would overlook the violent symbolism. Until, of course, someone outside of the local school authority structure discovered this trend.
The fourth symbol, was the standard set of symbols for the Gangster Disciples, said to be the single largest gang in the United States. Here some 57.2 percent of the respondents said by crossing it out, that the symbol would not be allowed at their school. Still, though, some 42.8 percent did not reject this as a blatant gang symbol.
Low Overall Ability to Identify Verbal Taunts/Verbal Phrases/Standard Shout Outs of Gangs/Hate Groups
How would the school officials perform in correctly identifying which if any of a set of verbal phrases were actually the standard phrases or shout outs of gangs and hate groups or which unrelated to gangs/hate groups? Again, we tested this in the research. Item number 52 provided five subtests, five different phrases or alphanumeric expressions, four of which were obviously gang/hate group related.
The first of these was the expression “14 words - 88", and this is patently racist in its nature as a phrase. It refers to the infamous “14 words” that racist extremist groups use as their mantra, and “88" refers everywhere in that subculture to “Heil Hitler”. Only 23.4 percent of the respondents indicated that this expression would not be allowed at their school. Thus, in over three-fourths of American schools, the phrase would in fact be allowed because the people in charge lacked the ability to identify it as a patently racist/hate group expression.
The second of these was the expression “1-3-22-12", a series of numbers, again, though, a standard gang code. The numeric code is the traditional prison gang alphabet code (A = 1, B = 2, C = 3, etc) of the Almighty Conservative Vice Lords gang, which originated in Chicago, and now exists throughout the USA — thanks in part to federal aid and foundation grants to spread the gang back in the 1960's. Some 21.6 percent of the school officials indicated they would not allow this expression of the Vice Lords at their school, which means that most other schools would allow it.
The third symbol was the expression “Free Larry Hoover” and is a kind of t-shirt commonly sold in shopping malls throughout the USA, and refers to specifically the gang leader “Larry Hoover”, who is portrayed as a political prisoner, a ghetto prisoner. Larry Hoover is the leader of the Gangster Disciples, said to be the single largest gang in the world. Only about a fourth of the school officials responding to the survey (24.8%) indicated they would ban this phrase at their school, which means at three-fourths of American schools they would not recognize the significance of the symbols until it was perhaps too late.
The fourth expression was the phrase “Level 74 Clothing” which is in fact the commercial name for a fashion clothing line having nothing to do with gangs or hate groups. It is widely marketed to American youths But, here, strangely, we get a “false positive” situation: because 21.2 percent of the school officials indicated they would ban it, when in fact it meant nothing in the context of gangs or hate groups. They would get sued in court, and they would lose. They would have a lot of egg on their face in the mass media as well if they banned such a symbol.
The fifth expression was “Boulders for your Shoulders”. This is a drug phrase. It means “rock cocaine for sale”. It is a standard expression in that particular drug subculture, which overlaps obviously with the gang subculture, because the gangs run the crack houses and have a lot of control over crack distribution. So, how did the school officials in this survey do? Not very good. Only 20.7 percent indicated they would not allow the phrase at their school. So, about four fifths of American public schools would not recognize the significance of the phrase and clearly allow the use of the phrase on clothing until perhaps it was way too late.
ALMOST A THIRD OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS REPORT OCCULT-TYPE STUDENT ACTIVITIES IN THE LAST YEAR
The survey included the question “have there been any reports of occult-type activities among students in your school during the last year (e.g., dabbling in satanism, witchcraft, odinism, etc)”. Almost a third of all American public schools responding to the survey (32.6%) indicated that “yes”, such occult-type activities had been reported among their students in the last year. About two-thirds of the respondents (67.4%) reported no such occult related activities.
VAST MAJORITY WANT TO HOLD PARENTS FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR JUVENILE CRIMES
The survey included the question “do you believe parents should be held financially responsible for the crimes committed by their children who are juveniles”. Some 87.7 percent said “yes”, that parents should be held financially responsible for the offenses committed by juvenile children. Only 12.3 percent did not believe this should be done.
LOCAL CITY GOVERNMENTS NOT EARNING AN “A” FOR ADDRESSING GANG PROBLEMS DURING THE LAST YEAR
The survey included the question “what kind of Report Card grade would you give your city government officials for addressing the gang problem during 2005". Some 8.9 percent gave an “A”, some 30.7 percent gave a “B”, some 30.7 percent gave a “C”, some 22.3 percent gave a “D”, and 7.4 percent gave out an “F”. This translates, by means of a grade point average into a low be (B minus).
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GETS A LOWER GRADE FOR ADDRESSING GANG PROBLEMS DURING THE LAST YEAR
The survey included a separate question that asked “what kind of Report Card grade would you give elected federal government officials for addressing the gang problem during 2005". Here some 3.0% gave “A”, 15 percent “B”, 38 percent “C”, 29.5 percent “D”, and some 14.5 percent “F”. This is a “C” grade. Somewhat lower than the grade given to local government officials.
ALMOST ALL BELIEVE IN ZERO-TOLERANCE AS A POLICY
The survey included the question “A zero-tolerance policy is the best approach for controlling the outbreak or spread of the gang problem”. Just over half (54.8%) responded that they “strongly agree” with that policy, and another 30.3 percent indicated that they “agree” with that policy. So a total of 85.1 percent either strongly agree or agree with the zero-tolerance policy toward the gang problem. Only 7.2 percent indicated they were uncertain. Some 5.8 percent indicated that they “disagree”, and another 1.9 percent indicated that they strongly disagree with that policy.
MOST REJECT THE OSTRICH APPROACH TO DEALING WITH GANG PROBLEMS
The survey included the question “If gang wannabe’s start in a school, the best thing to do is to ignore them (don’t do anything about it), as the problem might go away on its own”, where the respondents had an opportunity to strongly agree, agree, etc. This is also known as the “Ostrich approach” to dealing with local gang problems. Only 1.9 percent indicated a response of strongly agree or agree. Some 4.8 percent were uncertain. Most disagreed or strongly disagreed. Some 24.9 percent indicated that they “disagree”. Some 68.4 percent indicated that they “strongly disagree”.
GANG DENIAL IS SOMEWHAT HIGH FOR AMERICAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
The survey asked the question “do you believe that some politicians or officials in your jurisdiction want public school personnel to downplay or even deny the gang problem”. The results showed that 40.2 percent felt this was true. Three fifths (59.8%) did not feel the pressure of gang denial from local political forces.
GANG DENIAL BY ELECTED OFFICIALS
The survey included the question “to what extent do elected officials in your school district deny the gang problem? (Check one rating, the higher the number, higher the denial; lower the number, the lower the level of denial)” and the values were from zero (no denial) to 10 (high denial). The results showed a mean score of 4.47, which is a moderate level of gang denial. Thus, on the average it is not a low level of gang denial, and not a high level of gang denial, it is a moderate level of gang denial: perhaps school districts engage in gang denial on an “as needed basis”.
NEARLY A FOURTH OF THE SCHOOLS RECEIVED OJJDP REPORTS
The survey asked the question “during 2005, did you receive any reports or periodicals from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) about such topics as gangs, gang prevention, etc”. Some 24.1 percent indicated “yes” that they had in fact received such reports in the last year. Three-fourths reported they had not seen such reports.
A follow-up question, for those who had received the OJJDP free reports about gangs, asked them to rate their level of satisfaction with the free materials. The response mode allowed for an answer between zero for “not satisfied” to a high of 10 for “very satisfied”. Thus, it is similar to the 100 point scale used for a grade at many schools. The mean score was 5.6 for the level of satisfaction with OJJDP materials. Which is a moderate or mid-point score. It is not a terribly low score, it is not a high score.
OVER HALF BELIEVE THE MASS MEDIA CONTRIBUTES TO THE GANG PROBLEM
The survey included the question “do you feel that if less attention was given to gangs on television, in newspapers, and in movies, video games, etc, that fewer people would join a gang”. Some 61.6 percent of the respondents said “yes” that they felt this was true: less attention in the mass media would lead to fewer people joining gangs. Some 38.4 percent did not accept this premise about the role of the mass media.
TWO-THIRDS OF AMERICAN SCHOOLS PROHIBIT OR BAN SOME TYPES OF ELECTRONIC MEDIA
The survey included the question “are there any movies, videos, or types of music that are prohibited or banned at your school”. Some 67.2 percent said “yes”, and 32.8 percent “no”.
IN MOST CASES BAD BEHAVIOR AT A LOCAL MALL IS NOT GOING TO BE MADE KNOWN TO LOCAL SCHOOL OFFICIALS
The survey included the question “hypothetically, if one of your students is expelled and banned from a local area mall (assume for disruptive conduct, etc), does this information get formally transmitted to your school guidance counselor or other school official in a routine fashion and on a timely basis”. Only 18.1 percent said “yes”. Most (81.9%) said “no”.
TWO-THIRDS OF AMERICAN SCHOOLS HAVE NO FORMAL LIAISON TO LOCAL MALL SECURITY STAFF
The survey included the question “our school has no formalized liaison policies and procedures for receiving information on student conduct at malls in the area from security staff who may work there”. Some 65.8 percent answered “yes”, and 34.2 percent “no”.
SECURITY PROBLEMS TENDED TO INCREASE MORE THAN DECREASE IN THE LAST YEAR
One step forward, two steps backward describes the finding here. The survey asked “during the last year did your school experience an increase or decrease in security related problems (gangs, drugs, fights, etc)”. Some 27.4 percent indicated their security problems increased in the last year. Some 11.8 percent indicated their security problems decreased in the last year. Most (60.8%) indicated their security problems remained at the same level.
SCHOOL SAFETY IMPROVING SLIGHTLY
The survey included the question “during the last year, do you think your school became safer, less safer, or remained about the same”. Some 28.4 percent of the respondents indicated that during the last year their school became safer. Still 14.9 percent indicated their school became less safe and more dangerous. And the single largest group (56.7%) felt that there was no change in the level of safety/danger in their school during the last year.
TWO-FIFTHS EXPECT AN INCREASE IN GANG PROBLEMS
The survey included the question “do you expect an increase or decrease in gang-related problems in the next year”. Some 41.2 percent indicated they expect an increase in gang-related problems. Only 8.3 percent expected a decrease in gang problems. And about half (50.5%) felt there would be no change or the gang problem would remain at the same level as in the past.
SECURITY PROBLEMS EXPECTED TO INCREASE NEXT YEAR
The survey included the question “based on current trends, what is your expectation for next year, in the school year 2006-2007, will your school experience an increase or decrease in security-related problems (gangs, drugs, fights, etc)”. Some 39.1 percent expected an increase. Only 9.4 percent expected a decrease. About half (51.5%) expected the problem will remain about the same.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
The research reported here has helped to clarify how the gang problem overlaps with a variety of other problems: drugs, violence, bullying, hate/extremist groups, etc. The validity and reliability levels for the research reported here are considered acceptable for the fields of social science. Below we summarize our major findings and conclusions from this study.
The Average American School
Most schools state that they prohibit the wearing of gang symbols on clothing the students wear to school. Most schools prohibit gang and hate group slogans on clothing and apparel as well. The issue to be resolved, though, is can school officials correctly identify such gang symbols or hate group slogans if they saw them. Four-fifths of the schools have written policies prohibiting bullying. Most schools reported drug arrests for students during the last year, even though only half of the schools had a drug prevention program.
Recent Trends and Prognosis for Future
Based on a number of different questions we can summarize some recent trends as well as expectations for the future based on information analyzed in the research reported here.
During the last year security staff such as SRO’s remained at about the same force level overall, with increases offsetting decreases equally, and most staffing patterns remaining about the same. Even though security problems increased last year for a fourth of the schools. But this is occurring in many cases when there is an increase in student enrollment. We also know that in the last year: one out of four schools reported gang or drug shootings near their building. A third reported arrests for meth drug crimes in the last year among their students. Nearly a third also reported occult-type activities in the last year. About a third saw an increase in gang graffiti. Two-fifths expect an increase in gang-related or security-related problems next year.
Where There Exists Massive Consensus
There was strong agreement that gang training should be required for certain types of school administrators and basically all teachers. There seems massive agreement that gang and hate symbols need to be kept out of the school environment. There was also some strong support for the idea of holding parents financially responsible for the crimes committed by their underage children. Most are in favor of a zero-tolerance policy towards gangs. Most do not believe it is a good idea to ignore the gang problem even if the gang problem consists of “gang wannabe’s”. Another area of strong consensus was the issue of school uniforms: over three-fourths felt students were safer in school uniforms and that school uniforms reduce gang activities. Over three fourths also felt it would be good public policy to implement a gang prevention program, as currently only about one in ten schools report having a gang prevention program.
The Issues of Gang Identification Skills Among School Personnel
We were able to field test over 200 public school personnel in 46 states using 14 different symbols or expressions. This was really the first research of its kind in this area, so there is absolutely nothing to compare our findings to. The present research has paved a pioneering path into new problem areas. A fourth to half of the time, hate group symbols would be correctly identified. About half of the time major gang symbols would be correctly identified. About a fourth of the time gang verbal expressions or codes would be correctly identified. Is that an acceptable level of gang identification skill for public school officials? Such an issue is beyond the scope of the present report, but it is certainly suggestive that American public schools need a huge infusion of new funding and resources to address basic needs and basic issues.
This has been a preliminary report on the research project reflecting only descriptive statistical findings. Further analysis is currently underway and it is reasonable to expect additional findings, insight, and discussion of the various issues in a future report from the NGCRC. This version of the report is for public release, a more detailed version of the report was provided to all respondents (free of charge) and to those who subscribe to the Journal of Gang Research, the official publication of the NGCRC.
Click here for a COPY OF THE SURVEY INSTRUMENT USED