Students’ Prior Criminal Histories Don’t Predict Future Misconduct, Research Finds

As colleges seek ways to make their campuses safer, many have opted to examine the criminal histories of students before they're admitted. New research, however, reveals that criminal-background checks and pre-admission screening do not accurately predict whether an incoming student will pose a threat or disruption in college.

Based on an analysis of nearly 7,000 seniors at a large Southern university, a report says that only 3 percent of students who engaged in misconduct on the campus during their college years had reported criminal histories during the admissions process. Of the students who did report a criminal record, meanwhile, just under 9 percent were accused of misconduct during college.

The report, published in the journal Injury Prevention in February, was written by Carol W. Runyan, an epidemiologist at the Colorado School of Public Health, and three other researchers.

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