Violent crime at the nation's schools is declining, and students and schools are reporting less bullying and gang activity. But new government data reports an increase in cyber bullying and youth suicides.
"Cyber bullying issue has really moved to center stage and that's probably the next major challenge that school officials and others will have to address," said Ron Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center, a nonprofit advocacy organization.
He said the higher number of suicides wasn't surprising.
"I think that's a number we'll see increasing based on what's happening with all the cyber bullying," Stephens said.
The number of violent deaths declined to 33 in the 2009-10 school year, the lowest number on record since the agencies began collecting data in 1992, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice on Wednesday. In the previous school year, there were 38 such deaths.
Thefts and nonfatal violent crimes declined from 1.2 million in 2008 to 828,000 in 2010.
"Students perceive schools as being safer than they were," said Tom Snyder, a project director of the National Center for Education Statistics.