Niagara Falls youth contribute to, are impacted by High Rate of Violent Crime

As we reported two weeks ago, the 2015 FBI annual report “Crime in the United States”, released in late September of this year, ranked Niagara Falls as being the most violent city in New York State.

Based on 555 violent crimes reported for Niagara Falls for 2015, and a population of 48,989, there was more than one chance in 100 that a resident was robbed, raped, murdered or assaulted last year.

The high violent crime rate of Niagara Falls has impacted the life of high school students in this city.

According to a November, 2015 “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey”, a research program administered by the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the crisis of violence endemic to the city of Niagara Falls is not restricted to its adult population.

Compared to statewide averages, Niagara Falls High School students are at higher than normal risk in the following areas: engaging in physical fights, including those that resulted in medical treatment; being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property; carrying a weapon; being bullied; skipping school because they felt unsafe; and being physically forced to have sex.

About one in five (19.7%) Niagara Falls High School students said they have had a parent or adult in their home hit, beat, kick or physically hurt them and 30.8% report they have witnessed someone get shot, stabbed or beaten in their neighborhood. Over a third (34.9%) revealed they have lived with someone who was alcoholic, a problem drinker, used illegal street drugs, took prescriptions drugs to get high or was a problem gambler, while 19.8% live with someone who was diagnosed mentally ill or suicidal.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of eligible 9th through 12th grade Niagara Falls High School students completed surveys that were included in the study (1,447 of 1,970).

In the 30 days leading up to the survey, performed one year ago, 15% of high schoolers reported having carried a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club. Niagara Falls also exceeded state averages, over the entire year, when it came to being threatened or injured with a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club on school property (8.7% vs. 7.3%), participating in a physical fight (30.9% vs. 22.8%) that leads to an injury that requires treatment (4.3% vs. 3.1%) and getting into a fight on school property (9.1% vs. 8.1%).

Also, in the 30 days leading up to administration of the survey, one in ten (9.9%) of students (vs. 7.4% statewide) skipped school because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from school. The incidence of bullying on school property, physical and sexual dating violence and rape were higher than state averages.

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey also studied 7th and 8th graders at LaSalle and Gaskill Preps. At the middle school level, 59.5% reported being in a physical fight, which resulted in treatable injury 6.5% of the time. 46.8% say they have been bullied on school property, and 27% have, at one time or another, carried a weapon such as a gun, knife or club.

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104 Comments

  1. I am a 1961 graduate of LaSalle High. We had very few problems. I don’t remember anyone being caught with a weapon at school. Bullying was minimal and usually verbal. I don’t remember the police ever being called to the school. There were a few fights between boys which were quickly stopped by male teachers, I don’t think any injuries required medical treatment. I was a science and math nerd, so maybe I wasn’t aware of problems.

    I left the Niagara Falls area around 1967. If there are any readers out there who are of my generation and have lived in the Falls continually until now, I would like to hear their opinions as to why the schools and the city are plagued with the problems discussed here. I realize that during the ensuing years after 1961, factories have closed, people have moved away, and poverty is widespread. These developments may be contributing factors, but there must be more to it.

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