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Report: Weapons offenses in New Jersey schools remain rare

Each year, New Jersey's state Department of Education releases a report that shows the crime rate in the public schools, including the crimes of bullying, fighting, weapons offenses and substance abuse.

According to the report, bullying has increased almost 20 percent since 2008. It made up almost one third of all violence reported in New Jersey schools.

In September of this year, the state implemented a stronger anti-bullying law.

According to the report, in 2010-11, students in grades seven and eight committed one third of the reported bullying offenses, while students in grades nine and 10 committed 25 percent of the bullying offenses reported. Of the bullying offenses reported, only four percent were related to students targeted because of their religion, sexual orientation or race.

While bullying incidents have increased, weapons offenses involving firearms remain rare. According to the report, only five offenses were reported in 2010-11.

Other weapon use increased by 25 percent since 2008. The use of knives increased by 11 percent -- up to 834 incidents out of the 1,246 weapons offenses reported.

Of all the offenses, fights and assaults still account for the most number of incidents.

Violence throughout New Jersey schools increased by seven percent, while assaults decreased by eight percent.

The Acting Education Commissioner does not know if the changes in the number of crimes is because more people are reporting it, or because people are more aware of bullying behavior at schools, but he stated that he does know that the new bullying law as brought bullying and violence in school into the limelight.

Source: "Bullying, fighting, weapons offenses, drug and alcohol use rise in New Jersey public schools," Diane D'Amico, Dec. 17, 2011