The truth about Jonesboro Schools -- Press Release

Jonesboro students less likely to carry a gun to school, or threaten classmates than their U.S. counterparts, according to PRIDE Survey

PRIDE Surveys, Atlanta, Georgia -- March 31, 1998

In a struggle to find an explanation for last Tuesday's fatal school shooting in Jonesboro, Arkansas, scholars and other commentators have suggested that cultural distinctions in Arkansas and the American South might have contributed to the violence there.

"Is there something especially pernicious about Southern life, stereotyped by gun racks in pickup trucks and fools with an attitude?" wrote a national newspaper correspondent.

"I don't think it's any accident that these incidents happened in the South," commented a psychology professor and scholar on southern culture.

So are students in Jonesboro more likely to engage in violent behaviors, like carrying guns to school, joining gangs, threatening to harm other students, and becoming involved with the police?

It may surprise many to know that students in Jonesboro are less likely to engage in those negative behaviors than students in the rest of the country.

A study of more than 700 students in Jonesboro revealed that U.S. students were actually twice as likely to carry a gun to school (4.0% vs. 1.6%) as students in Jonesboro.

Students nationally were also more likely to have threatened to harm another student (42% vs. 34%) and to have been hurt at school by another student (20% vs. 16%).

"In every case of violent or anti-social behavior, including alcohol and other drug use, students in Jonesboro, Arkansas, were less likely than students in the rest of the nation to wind up on the wrong side of the law," said Dr. Thomas J. Gleaton, president of PRIDE. While PRIDE has not conducted a statewide survey in Arkansas, Gleaton said his organization conglomerated a number of local school surveys in the state. "From this incomplete data set, it would appear that students in Arkansas are no more likely to exhibit violent behavior, and may actually be less likely to do so than students nationally," he said.

In Jonesboro, 767 students in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 completed the PRIDE Questionnaire during the 1996-97 school year.

Compared to students nationally, Jonesboro students were less likely to:
Jonesboro Schools vs. United States
Join a gang 6.7% 11.8%
Run afoul of the police 17% 25%
Consider suicide 5.6% 6.6%
Use illicit drugs monthly 12.3% 17.8%

"Our survey of more than 700 students in Jonesboro is a more compelling and scientific study of behavior by young people in Jonesboro than the aberrant behavior of the two children who pulled the triggers," Gleaton said.

PRIDE, a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, conducts the nation's largest survey of adolescent drug use and violence. It has conducted surveys in more than 6,200 school systems in the country, including the Jonesboro Public Schools.

The survey is administered during school hours and is anonymous.

PRIDE Survey 1996-97

Jonesboro, Arkansas students less likely to carry a gun to school,
join a gang, threaten other students, or get in trouble with police
Grades 6, 8, 10, 12

Jonesboro Schools vs. United States
While at school have you carried a gun? 1.6% 4.0%
Do you take part in gang activities? 6.7% 11.8%
Have you thought about committing suicide? 5.6% 6.6%
Have you threatened to harm another student? 34% 42%
Have you been in trouble with the police? 17% 25%
Are you afraid another student will hurt you at school? 24% 25%
Have you been hurt at school? 16% 20%

Jonesboro students less likely to use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs
Monthly use by students in grades 6, 8, 10, 12

Jonesboro Schools vs. United States
Cigarettes 19.9% 25.8%
Beer 17.4% 23.4%
Wine Coolers 14.9% 16.4%
Liquor 17.6% 18.9%
Marijuana 10.2% 15.5%
Cocaine 1.3% 2.4%
Uppers 4.2% 3.0%
Downers 4.2% 3.0%
Inhalants 1.7% 3.1%
Hallucinogens 2.2% 3.1%
Heroin 0.8% 1.7%
Designer Drugs 1.3% 2.5%
Any Alcohol 22.3% 28.1%
Any Illicit Drug 12.3% 17.8%

Jonesboro N = 767; US N = 83450
Source: PRIDE Survey, 1996-97, 800-279-6361