Despite the Tragedies, Campus Crime Is Down

A new report finds that campus crimes declined over a 10-year period.

Mourners grieve at a memorial for the five Northern Illinois University students killed on Valentine’s Day in DeKalb, Ill., Sunday Feb. 24, 2008.
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The shooting that left five students plus the gunman dead at Northern Illinois University in February once again put a grim spotlight on the issue of security at colleges. But a new report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics finds that over a 10-year period (from 1995 to 2005), campus crimes actually declined. Violent crime dropped 9 percent at colleges and universities, the study found, while property crimes decreased 30 percent. (There were about 650 respondents to the survey.)

The report also showed that crime rates were significantly higher at private colleges than at public institutions, even though among schools with 5,000 or more students, private campuses had more law enforcement employees per capita. Private campuses had a higher rate of students living on campus, which could be driving their crime rates higher. "If you have people spending more time on campus, you're going to have more crimes reported," says BJS statistician Brian Reaves.