Safe Schools: Sex assaults down, simple assaults up in York County

Junior Gonzalez
York Dispatch
  • Sexual misconduct decreased overall, while violence in the form of fighting increased.
  • Over half of all fighting incidents, 187 of 311, occurred in York City schools.

Reports of violence in York County schools were mixed in 2016-17 compared with the previous year, according to the latest figures from the Department of Education.

Sexual misconduct infractions dropped in schools across York County, according to the state Department of Education’s annual Safe Schools report.

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However, incidents of misbehavior such as fighting and threats to school officials increased, the same data shows.

The annual report, released in October, includes safety data from all school districts, charter schools, intermediate units and career and technical education schools in the state.

Improvements: In York County, there were 14 reported cases of sexual misconduct in 2016-17 among four infraction categories — sexual assault, indecent assault, indecent exposure and open lewdness — down from 20 reported cases in the 2015-16 school year.

Sexual harassment reports also dropped in the past school year to 23 incidents, down from 46 in the previous year.

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There were no reported cases of rape, involuntary sexual deviate intercourse or statutory sexual assault in York County schools, according to the report.

The York City School District, which spent three years atop state figures on student-to-student sexual assaults in the early 2010s, reported no incidents of sexual assault, aggravated indecent sexual assault, involuntary sexual deviate intercourse or rape.

More:State: York schools led Pa. in sex assault reports in 3 of 10 years

Increases in violence: While reported sexual assault incidents have decreased, reports of student-to-student simple assaults in York County classrooms increased, from 126 in the 2015-16 school year to 148 in the 2016-17 school year.

Assaults and threats on staff members by students also jumped compared with the same categories in the 2015-16 school year.

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Fighting between students also increased to 311, comprising more than 18 percent of the total incidents covered in the report.

More than half of all fighting cases came from the York City School District, according to an analysis of data.

In the 2016-17 school year, the York City School District implemented a Positive Behavior Intervention Support system to combat behavioral issues.

The York City school board approved a new discipline policy and student code of conduct last August to complement the PBIS system and includes mediation and conflict resolution as forms of consequences for bad behavior.

According to the district website, PBIS implementation lowered out-of-school suspensions by 33 percent year-over-year.