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New Mexico State Department
of Education

300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393


April 7, 2003

New Mexico's Public Schools See Decline in Incidents of Violence, Gang Activities New Mexico's Public Schools See Decline in Incidents of Violence, Gang Activities

(Santa Fe, NM)-Statistics compiled in the New Mexico State Department of Education's (SDE) Safe Schools Report 2000-2001 (formerly Violence and Vandalism Report) show that the number of reported incidents of violence and gang activities in New Mexico's public schools have declined since 1999-2000. The incidents of violence and/or vandalism declined by 2,080 or 11.95% and gang activities declined by 169 or 45%.

"Today, we celebrate a reduction in the reported incidents of violence in our schools. We have set high expectations for self-discipline in the public schools and we are meeting with success! But we must continue our diligence and ensure that children and teachers are protected from harm," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael J. Davis.

Overall, the reduced incidents of violence and/or vandalism continued a two-year trend. The report shows that there were 17,411 reported incidents of violence and/or vandalism for the 1999-2000 school year, as compared to 17,616 incidents reported in 1998-99. But in 2000-2001, reported incidents totaled 15,331, or a reduction of 11.95%.

Of the 15,331 reported incidents of violence and/or vandalism, 8,101 were for violent crimes (assault and battery), down from 9,510 in 1999-2000, 4,389 were for other criminal activity, up from 4,343, 2,821 were for acts of vandalism, down from 3,558, and there were 20 incidents involving a firearm, representing .13%, significantly less than 1%, of the total incidents. Drug-related activities accounted for the majority of incidents (2,804 violations) under the "other criminal activity" category (not including knife-cutting and other incidents), followed by alcohol violations (493) and gang activity (204).

Drug violations continued to rise, with a 12.6% increase from the previous year and an increase of 23.85% since 1997-98. Reports of drug violations in 1997-98 totaled 2,264, compared with 2,804 in 2000-2001.

Of the 908 cases of weapons possession recorded (up from 884 in 1999-2000), 20 incidents involved firearms, down from 25 in 1999-2000. Incidents with a knife or cutting object numbered 643, up from 578. Other weapons totaled 245, down from 281. For firearm and weapons possession, students were the perpetrators 98 percent of the time.

Disciplinary actions taken included 821 arrests and/or referrals to the justice system, up from 599 in 1999-2000, 1,470 in-school disciplinary actions, down from 2,061, 4,726 suspensions, up from 4,701, and 34 expulsions, down from 53.

And the financial costs of school vandalism have increased by 30% since 1997-98.

The Safe Schools Report is a summary of reported incidents of violence and/or vandalism from July 1, 2000, to June 30, 2001. Included this year is information on how schools are addressing the issue of school safety through the development and implementation of comprehensive safe school plans.

All 50 states are required to have emergency preparedness plans that include procedures for schools in the event of a national or local disaster or foreign aggression. New Mexico is the first state in the nation to require all schools to develop and implement comprehensive safe schools plans that include prevention, policies and procedures and emergency response. In addition, the SDE is developing guidance for safe schools plans to include a section on how to respond after an incident has occurred.

"Rather than merely requiring fire drills, the only activity required by law, New Mexico's schools are implementing a variety of prevention activities to defuse potential confrontations, such as mentoring programs, mediation programs and anti-bullying programs and policies," said State Superintendent Davis. "An exceptionally valuable outcome of this approach is the strengthening of partnerships among state and local agencies to support safe school efforts," he said.

The report is available on the SDE's web site at