updated 1/17/2008 10:45:25 PM ET 2008-01-18T03:45:25

About 16 students are murdered in U.S. schools each year, says a new government report. While that number and rate of slayings holds steady, it is lower than in the previous decade.

"Schools remain safe places for students," said Jeff Hall, a report co-author with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC counted murders of students that occurred at elementary, middle or high schools, on school-sponsored trips, or while students were on their way to or from school.

A total of 116 such deaths occurred from July 1999 through June 2006.

That's a lower number and rate than in previous years, which included the infamous shooting spree at Columbine High School in Colorado. Twelve students died in the April 1999 shootings.

Overall, there were 172 student slayings at schools from July 1994 to June 1999.

Most killed at home, parties
The new numbers show massacres remain rare and that 101 of 116 deaths involved single-victim incidents.

Researchers didn't study why school-associated killings have dropped since the 1990s, but it may have to do with violence prevention measures, Hall said.

"They know there's a cop at school. I think that's somewhat of a deterrent," said Lew Cox, executive director of Violent Crime Victim Services, a Tacoma, Wash.-based organization.

Most children are killed at home, at parties or on the streets, Cox said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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