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School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS)

School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS)

The School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS) is the primary source of school-level data on crime and safety for the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The SSOCS is a nationally representative cross-sectional survey of public elementary and secondary schools. It is designed to provide estimates of school crime, discipline, disorder, programs and policies.

If you have been asked to participate in this survey, this site will help you verify that the survey came from the Census Bureau, verify that the person who called or came to your door is a Census Bureau employee, and inform you of how we protect your data.


SSOCS is administered to public primary, middle, high, and combined school principals in the spring, toward the end of the school year, to allow principals to report the most complete information possible. SSOCS was first administered to principals in the spring of the 1999–2000 school year. It has since been administered in the springs of the 2003–04, 2005–06, 2007–08, 2009–10, 2015-16, 2017-18, and 2019-20 school years. It will be administered again in the spring of the 2021–22 school year.

Over 4,000 public school principals are selected to receive the SSOCS questionnaire. The SSOCS sample is large enough to provide national estimates of all public schools, while taking into account a number of factors, including the level of instruction, student enrollment size, and urbanicity.

The SSOCS questionnaire asks principals to report on a variety of topics related to crime and safety, including:

  • Frequency and types of crimes at schools, including homicide, rape, sexual assault, attacks with or without weapons, robbery, theft, and vandalism;
  • Frequency and types of disciplinary actions such as removals, transfers, and suspensions for selected offenses;
  • Perceptions of other disciplinary problems such as bullying, verbal abuse, and disorder in the classroom;
  • Description of school policies and programs concerning crime and safety;
  • Description of the pervasiveness of student and teacher involvement in efforts that are intended to prevent or reduce school violence;
  • Mental health services available to students at school;
  • Responsibilities of sworn law enforcement officers and SROs; and
  • General school characteristics.

Why is this survey important?

Measuring the extent of school crime is important for many reasons. The safety of students and teachers is a primary concern, but the nature and frequency of school crime have other important implications, as well. Safety and discipline are necessary for effective education. In order to learn, students need a secure environment where they can concentrate on their studies. Dealing with school crime requires school resources. Gathering this information should help researchers and policy-makers devise strategies to address these problems in our schools.

This study collects information on school crime and safety from school principals in primary, middle, high, and combined schools across the United States. As an ongoing survey, the SSOCS measures changes over time on key issues. Gathering this information will help schools compare their policies and programs to schools nationwide. It will also help researchers and policymakers identify trends in crime and safety issues across time and identify emerging problems or issues.

What is the legal authority for conducting this survey?

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), within the U.S. Department of Education, is authorized to conduct this survey by the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (ESRA 2002, 20 U.S.C. §9543).

The OMB control number is 1850-0761 and the approval expiration date for the current collection (the 2019-20 SSOCS) is 05/31/2022.

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts this survey on behalf of the NCES.

As part of the Department of Education, the National Center for Education Statistics fulfills a Congressional mandate to:

  • Collect, collate, analyze and report complete statistics on the condition of American education;
  • Conduct and publish reports; and
  • Review and report on education activities internationally.

Why was I selected to be in this survey?

From all the public schools in the United States, we selected a random stratified sample of about 4,800 schools that represent the nation for the 2020 School Survey on Crime and Safety. Your school happened to be one of those selected. Your responses will represent schools with similar demographics that were not selected for the survey.

How can I respond to this survey?

You can respond in one of the following ways:

  • Completing via the web survey
  • Completing the paper form mailed to you
  • By phone

You can get help by calling our toll-free number at 1-888-595-1332. You may also email us at ssocs@census.gov.

How long will it take to complete this survey?

The time required to complete this survey collection is estimated to average 45 minutes per response, including the time to review instructions, search existing data resources, gather the data needed, and complete and review the information collection.

How can I verify that the person contacting me is a Census Bureau employee?

If you have received a letter requesting you to participate in the survey, a Census Bureau employee may contact you to remind you to complete the survey by telephone. He or she will always provide you with his or her name and interviewer code to confirm employment with the Census Bureau.

To protect your privacy, the School Survey on Crime and Safety NEVER asks for:

  • your Social Security number
  • your personal information via email
  • money or donations
  • credit card information

You can also verify the legitimacy of a call from the Census Bureau by visiting:

What if this survey is not relevant to my situation?

If you feel you received the SSOCS in error, please contact the Census Bureau toll-free at 1-888-595-1332 or by emailing at ssocs@census.gov.

Is participation mandatory?

Although this is a voluntary survey, your cooperation is essential to make the results of this survey comprehensive, accurate, and timely. Policymakers and educational leaders rely on data from this survey to inform their decisions concerning school programs and policies to reduce crime. Since it is a sample survey, responses from sampled schools represent the responses of many schools that serve similar student populations. Higher response rates give us confidence that the findings are accurate.

Can I be identified by my responses?

All of the information you provide may be used only for statistical purposes and may not be disclosed, or used, in identifiable form for any other purpose except as required by law (20 U.S.C. §9573 and 6 U.S.C. §151). Reports of the findings from the survey will not identify participating districts, schools, or staff. Individual responses will be combined with those from other participants to produce summary statistics and reports.

Summary data from the study will be placed into a public-use dataset for researchers and policy-makers. The dataset is rigorously tested prior to release to ensure no individual schools can be identified.

How do I know my responses are safe?

The responses that are collected from surveys conducted by the Census Bureau are encrypted both in transit and at rest on the Census Bureau’s servers. These servers are part of a stand-alone network that is not accessible by the Internet. These servers are constantly monitored for any attempts at intrusion.

Where can I find the statistics produced by this survey?

Results from the study will be used to increase knowledge of policies and programs schools use to address school crime and safety. Results will also show comparisons on crime and safety data across time from the 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2016 surveys.

Summary data from the study will be placed into a public-use dataset for researchers and policy-makers. The dataset is rigorously tested prior to release to ensure no individual schools can be identified. Downloadable reports from the 1999-2000, 2003-04, 2005-06, 2007-08, 2009-10, and 2015-16 collections of the SSOCS such as Crime and Safety in America's Public Schools: Selected Findings from the School Survey on Crime and Safety are available. Also included on the website is a table library with hundreds of tables that provide estimates on school crime and violence by selected school and student characteristics.

The NCES Crime and Safety Surveys page has information on SSOCS and other surveys.

What if I have additional questions, recommendations, or issues that I need resolved?

Please contact the U.S. Census Bureau at 1-888-595-1332 if you have any questions about the survey. Someone will be available to take your call Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). At any other time, please leave a message and someone will return your call as soon as possible. The U.S. Census Bureau is also available to answer your questions via e-mail at ssocs@census.gov.

If you have any comments concerning the accuracy of the time estimate, suggestions for improving this collection, or comments or concerns about the contents or the status of your individual submission of this questionnaire, please e-mail: SSOCS@census.gov, or write directly to: School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS), National Center for Education Statistics, Potomac Center Plaza, 550 12th Street SW, Room #4012, Washington, DC 20202.

The Census Bureau has a web page “Are You In A Survey” designed to answer additional questions you might have about being in a Census survey.

Page Last Revised - March 8, 2023
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