Not Feeling Safe at School

Students of color and lesbian, gay, and bisexual students most likely to feel unsafe at school.

In a survey of Washington public school students, 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders were asked whether they did or did not feel safe at school. For 2014 and 2016 combined, 13% of students said they did not feel safe at school.

  • Race and ethnicity: Students of color were more likely than the county average to feel unsafe at school. This included Black/African American students (18%), Hispanic/Latino students (16%), Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students (16%), and students of Other Race (16%). Although White students were less likely than average to feel unsafe, the percent who felt unsafe (10%) was still substantial.

  • Sexual orientation (8th, 10th and 12th grades only): Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) students were more likely than students overall to feel unsafe at school (21% and 13%, respectively). Among LGB students, there were differences by race/ethnicity: those who were Black/African American or who identified as Other Race (32% and 40%, respectively) were more likely to feel unsafe than LGB students overall (data not shown).

  • Grade: Feeling unsafe was less common for 6th graders (10%) than for 8th graders (15%), 10th graders (14%) and 12th graders (12%).

  • Region: Feeling unsafe was more likely in students in South Region (16%) than in Seattle (12%), North Region (10%) and East Region (9%).

  • Trends: Overall, the percent of students who felt unsafe fell from 16% in 2004 to 12% in 2012, then levelled off until 2016. The rate declined only slightly in South King County as it fell steadily and rapidly In Seattle, so that by the end of the period, South King County exceeded the rest of the county. The rate decreased in American Indian/Alaska Natives, Asians, Black/African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders and people of Multiple Race.


Notes and Sources 

Source: Healthy Youth Survey, (2012-2016)

Numerator: Students who disagreed with the statement, "I feel safe at my school.”

Denominator: All students who answered the question.

Every 2 years, Washington public school students in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades answer questions about safety and violence, physical activity and diet, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, and related risk and protective factors. To learn more about the survey, please go to