⚁ A.10 School Shootings: A selected review of the literature.

William Tillier

04 2023

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⚂ Archer, A., & Kleinman, L. (Eds.). (2019). If I don't make it, I love you: Survivors in the aftermath of school shootings . Skyhorse. MY DAUGHTER, JAIME, was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018. … In this collection of stories, you will meet people like me: parents grieving their child. You will meet students who just made it, friends who survived, teachers who acted, and the families and communities who supported them. One thread holds these stories together: resilience. … If I don’t make it, I love you pulls together, for the first time, the voices of several generations of survivors from twenty-one school shootings beginning with Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas on May 18, 2018 and concluding with August 1, 1966 at the University of Texas, at Austin.

⚂ Boeckler, N., Seeger, T., Sitzer, P., & Heitmeyer, W. (Eds.). (2013). School shootings: International research, case studies, and concepts for prevention. Springer. The volume begins in Part I with theories, explanatory models, and empirical findings, which are deepened in Part II by various case studies. Part III addresses media and public reactions, and the volume ends in Part IV by examining a broad spectrum of opportunities for prevention and intervention, as well as their limitations. …What is certain is that monocausal explanations are inadequate, and that school shootings must be understood as the outcome of numerous interacting risk factors (Verlinden et al. 2000; Newman et al. 2004; Robertz 2004; Kellner 2008; Henry 2009; Levin and Madfis 2009; Bondü and Scheithauer 2010), upon whose various relevance and interrelatedness little light has to date been shed. … After considerable and prolonged public, media, and research discussion blaming individual, isolated factors for the genesis of school shootings (a culture of violence, so-called killing games, inadequate gun laws, bullying, etc.), the existing body of empirical and analytical research would suggest that it is high time to turn attention to the violence-affirming setting in its entirety. This includes: 1. Structures and factors influencing the socialization of children and adolescents (socio-structural, cultural/media, familial). 2. Institutional circumstances of school life and study ([country-]specific school climate and culture). 3. Individual biographical and ensuing psychodynamic background, factors, and influences. … We hope this volume will provide a broad overview both for researchers and for those involved in practical work in the school and social sector, as well as creating impetus to shift the public discourse. This is the first international collection to bring together renowned researchers to present their latest empirical findings and theoretical concepts in the field of school shootings systematically and concisely in a single volume. Our two uppermost aims are to: 1. Present the various complementary and contradictory contributions, approaches, and models, and examine how they relate to one another. 2. Highlight controversies within the field and contrast specific standpoints and perspectives.

⚂ Borum, R., Cornell, D. G., Modzeleski, W., & Jimerson, S. R. (2010). What can be done about school shootings?: A review of the evidence. Educational Researcher, 39 (1), 27–37. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X09357620 Many of the school safety and security measures deployed in response to school shootings have little research support, and strategies such as zero-tolerance discipline and student profiling have been widely criticized as unsound practices. Threat assessment is identified as a promising strategy for violence prevention that merits further study. The article concludes with an overview of the need for schools to develop crisis response plans to prepare for and mitigate such rare events. … We must discern the patterns and relationships among individual, school, and community factors contributing to these incidents and apply lessons from outcome and program evaluations that pertain to the prevention of school shootings. In this article, we review the progress that has been made and consider possible directions for additional research.



⚂ Brown, B., & Merritt, R. (2002). No easy answers: The truth behind death at Columbine . Lantern Publishing & Media. From Publishers Weekly: The question of why Columbine seniors Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 12 classmates and one teacher before killing themselves is personal for classmate Brown, who was friends with both boys. However, this search for an answer is unlikely to provide closure for either Brown or others concerned about preventing future acts of school violence. The author, who appeared on Oprah and other shows after the killing spree, writes conversationally, as if he were being questioned by a talk show host and asked to describe growing up with Klebold, why he thinks Harris told him to go home right before the shootings and what can be learned from the gruesome event. Interspersed between Brown's first person accounts of bullying and injustice at Columbine, which he regards as the motivating factors for the shootings, are third person interviews with his parents and others. Since much of the story of the event's aftermath is told from newspaper clippings and TV reports, there's little new here. Still, Brown's discussion of Harris's Web pages, where he made a death threat against Brown, and the police's failure to act on them, makes for chilling reading. The book bogs down when Brown details the actions of the local police and sheriff, who implied that Brown was a suspect even though they knew he and his family were mentioned as potential targets in Harris's journals. Too little time has elapsed since the shootings for Brown to have the perspective necessary to make this a definitive work, but readers interested in a close-up account of the tragedy will want to read this book.

⚂ Burton, A. L., Pickett, J. T., Jonson, C. L., Cullen, F. T., & Burton, V. S. (2021). Public support for policies to reduce school shootings: A moral-altruistic model. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 58 (3), 269–305. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022427820953202
We theorize that three moral-altruistic factors are likely to be broadly relevant to public opinion on school safety policies: moral intuitions about harm, anger about school crime, and altruistic fear. … The public strongly supports policies that restrict who can access guns, expand school anti-bullying and counseling programs, and target-harden schools. While many factors influence attitudes toward gun-related policies specifically, moral-altruistic factors significantly increase support for all three types of school safety policies. Conclusions: The public favors a comprehensive policy response and is willing to pay for it. Support for prevention efforts reflects moral intuitions about harm, anger about school crime, and altruistic fear. … Our study showed that the public supports a comprehensive policy approach for reducing school shootings, one that includes gun control as well as school programs to address bullying and mental illness.

⚂ Cornell, D. G. (2003). Guidelines for responding to student threats of violence. Journal of Educational Administration, 41 (6), 705–719. https://doi.org/10.1108/09578230310504670

⚂ Fein, R., Vossekuil, B., Pollack, W., Borum, R., Modzeleski, W., & Reddy, M. (2002). Threat assessment in schools: A guide to managing threatening situations and to creating safe school climates. Washington, DC: U.S. Secret Service and Department of Education. https://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/threatassessmentguide.pdf

⚂ Fiedler, N., Sommer, F., Leuschner, V., & Scheithauer, H. (2020). Student crisis prevention in schools: The NETWorks Against School Shootings Program (NETWASS) – An Approach Suitable for the Prevention of Violent Extremism? International Journal of Developmental Science, 13 (3–4), 109–122. https://doi.org/10.3233/DEV-190283
To summarize, with only a moderate degree of staff training required to implement the program, teachers’ expertise and evaluation skills to identify and deal with students experiencing a psychosocial crisis significantly improved. Results emphasize an overall fit between schools’ needs and program components, and the NETWASS training approach was accepted by the majority of trained teachers in Germany. … By supporting the implementation of the NETWASS program into standard educational practice, school administrators, and policy makers can contribute to a healthy development of students and increase feelings of safety in students, parents, and school staff, considering additionally several important ethical issues


⚂ Flannery, D. J., Modzeleski, W., & Kretschmar, J. M. (2013). Violence and school shootings. Current Psychiatry Reports, 15 (1), 331. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-012-0331-6 Multiple-homicide school shootings are rare events, but when they happen they significantly impact individuals, the school and the community. We focus on multiple-homicide incidents and identified mental health issues of shooters. To date, studies of school shootings have concluded that no reliable profile of a shooter exists, so risk should be assessed using comprehensive threat assessment protocols. Existing studies primarily utilize retrospective case histories or media accounts. The field requires more empirical and systematic research on all types of school shootings including single victim incidents, those that result in injury but not death and those that are successfully averted. We discuss current policies and practices related to school shootings and the role of mental health professionals in assessing risk and supporting surviving victims. … We tend to focus on the perpetrator, seeking answers to why they would commit such an act, and we try to make sense of the senseless. While this response is understandable, we cannot forget about the survivors and other victims and their mental health needs, which can prevail for many years post-incident. When similar incidents occur, previous survivors and others can also be prone to re-experiencing the trauma. … School shootings are not all the same and may require different approaches to prevention and treatment, especially with respect to identifying risk factors at the individual, school or community levels, and particularly with regard to examining the role that mental health issues may play to increase risk for perpetration. The field needs to know more about shooting incidents that are averted, those that result in injury but not death and about the characteristics of the more common occurrence of single homicide school shootings. Community mental health providers and professionals, particularly psychiatrists, are essential partners and must continue to seek avenues for working with schools to conduct thorough threat assessments, to identify young persons with significant mental health needs and to develop protocols for identification, prevention, and treatment that will effectively support the social and emotional needs of our most vulnerable youth and communities. At the very least, it is essential to have a cadre of trained and experienced mental health professionals who can come to crisis sites and assist in recovery efforts when these tragic events occur.

⚂ Follman, M. (2022). Trigger points: Inside the mission to stop mass shootings in America. Dey Street Books. With this book, my aim is to leave behind the battle over gun laws and instead tell the story of an additional solution to the affliction of mass shootings, one with powerful potential to reduce harm. Its focus is on the intricacy and possibilities of human behavior. … Between 2013 and 2020, I traveled to numerous cities and towns throughout the United States to look into details of mass shootings and learn about the work of professionals who investigated these attacks and prevented others. Every single case featured in this book involves a subject who showed a mix of warning behaviors—not fulfilling any checklist, as the public commonly expects per the notion of criminal profiling, but comprising a set of actions and conditions that revealed danger to threat assessment experts. These warning behaviors fall into eight broad areas: entrenched grievances, patterns of aggression or violence, stalking behavior, threatening communications, emulation of previous attackers, personal deterioration, triggering events, and attack planning and preparation. …

⚂  Fox, J. A., & Fridel, E. E. (2018). The menace of school shootings in America. The Wiley Handbook on Violence in Education, 15–35. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118966709.ch1 Notwithstanding the unmitigated horror and outrage associated with the 13 schoolyard massacres over the past two decades presented in Table 1.1, the overwhelming majority of school homicides involve a single victim and single perpetrator. … Simulated exercises to prepare pupils for fire and other natural catastrophes have been commonplace for generations. Yet the aggressive nature of shooting drills makes them qualitatively different and exceptionally more traumatizing to children, especially younger ones. These simulations reinforce the notion that schools are dangerous places where the bad guy is coming to shoot you. The psychological harm that may come from these simulations is not warranted in light of the low probability that such an event will occur. … While attention to tragic school shootings is certainly appropriate, the hyperfocus on isolated cases of gun violence in school and the fortress-like approach to security carry significant drawbacks in terms of maintaining a school climate that is conducive to learning. Certain preventative measures, particularly those that are disproportionate to the actual risk, can serve as constant reminders for impressionable youngsters that schools are under siege. In addition, regarding school shootings as the “new normal” can become a self-fulfilling prophesy by which disgruntled, alienated adolescents continue to perceive violence as the best way to resolve conflict. In the long run, a low-key approach may be the most effective in promoting a safe school environment and alleviating fears.

⚂ Fridel, E. E. (2020). Comparing the impact of household gun ownership and concealed carry legislation on the frequency of mass shootings and firearms homicide. Justice Quarterly, 1–24. https://doi.org/10.1080/07418825.2020.1789693 gun-homicide rates in states with more permissive carry policies were eleven percent higher than in states with stricter laws, and the probability of mass shootings increased by roughly fifty-three percent in states with more gun ownership.

⚂ Fridel, E. E. (2021). The futility of shooting down strawmen: A response to Kleck (2020). Justice Quarterly, 38 (5), 925-941.

⚂ Goldstick, J. E., Cunningham, R. M., & Carter, P. M. (2022). Current causes of death in children and adolescents in the United States. New England Journal of Medicine, 386 (20), 1955–1956. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMc2201761

⚂ Jaymi Elsass, H., Schildkraut, J., & Stafford, M. C. (2016). Studying school shootings: Challenges and considerations for research. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 41 (3), 444–464. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12103-015-9311-9 Studying school shootings can be both a fruitful and challenging endeavor. The random nature of these events provides a number of challenges for studying this phenomenon. This paper explores these concerns as they relate to developing and implementing studies, as well as interpreting related findings by drawing on previous research that examined the effects of the 1999 Columbine High School, the 2007 Virginia Tech, and the 2008 Northern Illinois University shootings. Ways in which these issues may be overcome and, more generally, the research can be moved forward also are discussed. … this paper focuses on examining such challenges to studying school shootings, as well as offers considerations for how research designs can be improved in future studies. Specifically, these prior studies are examined, underscoring specific methodological challenges encountered during the research process. From there, additional considerations are offered with regards to the interpretation of specific findings, and methods through which these issues can be addressed. Finally, discussion is offered about approaches to moving the larger body of research in school shootings forward to provide a more comprehensive and robust analysis of these events.

⚂ Jeynes, W. H. (2020). Reducing school shootings. Springer. This book calls for a multidimensional and comprehensive approach to reduce the number of school shootings, rather than the simplistic unidimensional strategy that is commonly advocated. Based on meta-analyses examining which variables are most often related to positive changes in violent student behavior, it also integrates other research and historical trends in order to formulate recommendations regarding how to reduce school shootings. The topic of school shootings is one of the most vital issues in society today, because: 1) schools should be the safest places on Earth for children, 2) if students do not feel safe, they are not going to learn very well in school, and 3) it is of such great concern to parents and society at large, as evinced by the degree of news coverage that school shooting incidents receive. Sadly, despite the gravity of the problem, many people tend to either respond in an emotional way or propose simplistic solutions. Gun control legislation alone will not solve the problem; instead, it calls for a multi-disciplinary and multifaceted approach, involving parents, teachers, schools and healthcare. This book investigates the status quo, goals, and solutions, pursuing a fact-based approach. This book is of special interest to the academic community, national leaders, and other policymakers. It is also suitable for courses on education, psychology, sociology, criminal justice and other areas of law. It will also appeal to the general audience.

⚂ Jonson, C. L. (2017). Preventing school shootings: The effectiveness of safety measures. Victims & Offenders, 12 (6), 956–973. https://doi.org/10.1080/15564886.2017.1307293 The tragedies at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook Elementary School catapulted concern about school shootings into the national spotlight. Calls for something to be done to protect our students, faculty, and staff became a salient concern for school administrators, with many schools hiring armed security officers, restricting access to campus buildings, installing metal detectors, and training individuals how to respond when a shooter enters school grounds. However, many of these security measures were implemented with little to no consultation of the empirical literature. This failure to enact evidence-based responses has had fiscal and latent consequences that are only now being discovered. This essay seeks to fill that void by examining the empirical evidence surrounding common security measures enacted in response to well-publicized school shootings and calling for the use of an evidence-based approach to school safety.

⚂ Kalesan, B., Lagast, K., Villarreal, M., Pino, E., Fagan, J., & Galea, S. (2017). School shootings during 2013–2015 in the USA. Injury Prevention, 23 (5), 321–327. https://doi.org/10.1136/injuryprev-2016-042162 we describe the characteristics of school shooting incidents in the USA between 2013 and 2015 and explore whether four factors that represent domains of firearm policy, educational policy and epidemiological risk factors for intentional firearm injuries-background check (BC) policies, per capita mental health expenditures (MHE), K-12 education expenditure (KEE) and urbanicity—were associated with school shootings during this period. … School shootings are less likely in states with BC laws, higher MHE and KEE, and with greater per cent urban population. … There is an increasing incidence of school shooting episodes over the 3 years. The majority of the school shootings were intentional shootings committed by male perpetrators. States with background check laws for firearm and ammunition purchase, more capita mental health expenditure and K-12 education expenditure, and higher per cent urban population had lower school shooting incidence rates.

⚂ Kann, L., Olsen, E. O., McManus, T., Harris, W. A., Shanklin, S. L., Flint, K. H., Queen, B., Lowry, R., Chyen, D., Whittle, L., Thornton, J., Lim, C., Yamakawa, Y., Brener, N., & Zaza, S. (2016). Sexual identity, sex of sexual contacts, and health-related behaviors among students in grades 9–12—United States and selected sites, 2015. MMWR. Surveillance Summaries, 65 (9), 1–202. https://doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss6509a1 about 20 percent of all students need mental health services for a variety of reason. Yet, many do not receive these services A major challenge in gaining school-based mental health services is the high ratio of students to related services personnel. … The country appears to be at a crossroads on the need to repair and prepare public school systems for the rest of the 21st century and the ongoing decline in importance of the American public education enterprise. The increasing number of school shootings is a sign of adolescence affected by the social order and a need to build youth social competences and supportive services. Such a situation will require attention and resolve based on evidence and not politics. …

⚂ Karr-Morse, R., & Wiley, M. S. (2013). Ghosts from the nursery: Tracing the roots of violence. (revised and updated ed.). Atlantic Monthly Press. “Ghosts from the nursery” is an alteration of a phrase coined by psychoanalyst Selma Fraiberg: “ghosts in the nursery.” Fraiberg used this phrase to refer to the tendency of parents to bring to the rearing of their children the unresolved issues of their own childhoods. “Ghosts from the nursery” is used to express the idea that murderers and other violent criminals, who were once infants in our communities, are always accompanied by the spirits of the babies they once were together with the forces that killed their promise. The metaphor has connected for thousands of readers since Ghosts from the Nursery was first published in 1997, as Americans searched among relatively superficial explanations of the roots of violence in our nation and across the world. … Ghosts from the Nursery explains how all behavior, prosocial or antisocial, is controlled by a physical organ: the brain. And we will elucidate how the brain is fundamentally built inside of relationships—beginning with the mother during gestation. If the caregiving relationship is inadequate or traumatic, especially in the first thousand days of life when the brain is chemically and structurally forming, the part of the brain that allows the baby to feel connected with another person can be lost or greatly impaired. A child may mature lacking the ability to attach or to relate in any profound way to others, rendering the child emotionally damaged. Absent adequate nurturing by an emotionally competent caregiver, the baby faces an unpredictable tide of unregulated emotions.

⚂ Katsiyannis, A., Whitford, D. K., & Ennis, R. P. (2018). Historical examination of United States intentional mass school shootings in the 20th and 21st Centuries: Implications for students, schools, and society. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 27 (8), 2562–2573. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-018-1096-2 The purpose of this review is to provide a historical examination of United States intentional mass school shootings in the 20 th and 21 st centuries. In addition, implications for students, schools, and society are discussed in light of policy and legislative initiatives as well as school-based prevention and intervention tiered models of support, such as positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS). … Further, school personnel are uniquely situated in implementing tiered models of supports, such as PBIS with a particular emphasis on school-based mental health services to address school violence. Such preventative efforts not only require policy/legislative action but increased and targeted funding across federal, state, local and private sectors.

⚂ Kerr, S. E. (2021). Examining gun regulations, warning behaviors, and policies to prevent mass shootings. Information Science Reference.

⚂ King, M. (2021). The crisis of school violence: A new perspective. Michigan State University Press.

⚂ Kleck, G. (2021). The continuing vitality of flawed research on guns and violence: A comment on Fridel (2020). Justice Quarterly, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1080/07418825.2020.1823455 Fridel’s (2020) study repeats all of the most important methodological errors identified in prior research and fails to use available methods to reduce the problems. In addition, Fridel mischaracterized the findings of prior research on the effect of gun rates on homicide, citing only the technically weakest studies to support her claims, and omitting the more technically sound studies, which did not provide such support.

⚂ Klein, J. (2012). The bully society: School shootings and the crisis of bullying in America’s schools. NYU Press. Readers wanting an in-depth explanation of what’s behind school bullying will get that and much more in The Bully Society. Professor Klein has rendered an exceedingly thorough analysis of the bullying and hate crimes and shootings that have shocked America in the last decade or so. In addition, Dr. Klein makes a compelling argument that the causes of bullying are rooted in the American culture itself—an obsession with masculinity and hyper-individualism that promotes competition over collaboration and denies young people the kinds of authentic bonding experiences that encourage the development of healthy self-esteem."-New York Journal of Books … It became clear, as I uncovered the roots of these shootings, that children and teens continue to feel forced to conform to a narrow set of gender expectations in order to be accepted. Things have clearly grown worse, however, since my own childhood, when the dozen or so school shootings that occurred in the seventies barely registered in the national consciousness. It is more common today for those victimized in school to pick up guns and turn them on fellow students. … Ideally students shouldn’t need to find alternative spaces to feel safe and accepted. Schools are responsible for helping students become self-reflective, self-actualized, compassionate, and civic-minded people. Instead, teachers often become resented authority figures, while students become passive and docile, or rebellious and then accused of “acting out.” The obsession with gender, status, obedience, and competition that occupies our students undermines their relationships with themselves and with others, as well as their ability to learn and thrive. In many of our schools, precious opportunities for creating community and developing critical thinking are lost; instead, perhaps more than ever before, cutthroat competition, cruelty, isolation, and anxiety prevail. … Experts also tend to fix blame on factors external to schools: severe mental illness, access to guns, or media violence, especially video games. While these issues surely play a role in the high incidence of such events, we need to ask a more fundamental question: What occurs in schools themselves—the sites, after all, of the shootings—that causes so many students to become unhappy, anxious, depressed, and motivated by rage?

⚂ Langman, P. (2009a). Rampage school shooters: A typology. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14 (1), 79–86. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2008.10.003

⚂ Langman, P. (2009b). Why kids kill: Inside the minds of school shooters. Macmillan. Although I am offering my insights, conclusions, and speculation, there is no simple explanation of school shooters or a formula for predicting who will become a mass murderer. The end of the book will not present anything like: A + B + C = School Shooter. The subject is too complicated for that, and there is much that we do not know. Nonetheless, I believe this book will shed light on a phenomenon that, despite massive media coverage, has remained mysterious. My hope is that by increasing our understanding of school shooters, we will be better able to recognize the warning signs, to intervene effectively, and to thereby save people’s lives. … Rampage school shootings occur when students or former students attack their own schools. The attacks are public acts, committed in full view of others. In addition, although some people might be shot because the shooters held grudges against them, others are shot randomly or as symbols of the school (such as a principal). … This point may seem obvious, but it needs to be said: School shooters are disturbed individuals. These are not ordinary kids who were bullied into retaliation. These are not ordinary kids who played too many video games. These are not ordinary kids who just wanted to be famous. These are simply not ordinary kids. These are kids with serious psychological problems. This fact has often been missed or minimized in reports on school shooters. … Based on my research, there are three different types of school shooters: psychopathic, psychotic, and traumatized.

⚂ Langman, P. (2015). School shooters: Understanding high school, college, and adult perpetrators. Rowman & Littlefield.

⚂ Lee, H., Pickett, J. T., Burton, A. L., Cullen, F. T., Jonson, C. L., & Burton, Jr., V. S. (2022). Attributions as anchors: How the public explains school shootings and why it matters. Justice Quarterly, 39 (3), 497–524. https://doi.org/10.1080/07418825.2020.1769710

⚂ Livingston, M. D., Rossheim, M. E., & Hall, K. S. (2019). A descriptive analysis of school and school shooter characteristics and the severity of school shootings in the United States, 1999–2018. Journal of Adolescent Health, 64 (6), 797–799. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2018.12.006 More severe shootings were associated with shooters who were older and therefore unlikely to be students, whereas the presence of a school resource officer was unassociated with any reduction in school shooting severity. Importantly, the type of gun used was strongly associated with casualties and fatalities. Study findings suggest a need for prevention efforts beyond those commonly used in schools, as well as the need for improved laws. … we found that the most severe school shootings occurred in rural and suburban schools, schools that were majority white, and schools with comparably low poverty. Hiring school resource officers has been a primary response to school shootings by a large number of schools despite the large financial cost and limited evidence of effectiveness [9]. We found no evidence that the presence of resource officers in schools lessened the severity of school shooting incidents. Measures beyond the employment of school resource officers are likely needed for mitigating mass casualty shootings.

⚂ Madfis, E. (2020). How to stop school rampage killing: Lessons from averted mass shootings and bombings (2nd ed.). Palgrave Macmillan.

⚂ Mears, D. P., Moon, M. M., & Thielo, A. J. (2017). Columbine revisited: Myths and realities about the bullying–school shootings connection. Victims & Offenders, 12 (6), 939–955. https://doi.org/10.1080/15564886.2017.1307295 After the Columbine school shooting in 1999, concern about bullying crescendoed. A prominent belief emerged that bullying causes school shootings. However, many of the beliefs about bullying constitute myths—that is, empirically unverified assumptions. These beliefs ignore critical conceptual issues that attend to efforts to understand the bullying–school shootings connection. In so doing, they likely inhibit progress toward a more accurate understanding of the causes of school shootings and what can be done to prevent them. The authors present this argument and identify recommendations for research and policy. … What, then, should be done? A starting point is to fund large-scale efforts to research the causes of school shootings. As discussed here and elsewhere (e.g., Elsass et al., 2016; Grøndahl & Bjørkly, 2016; Harding et al., 2002), many challenges confront efforts to develop a robust, credible assessment of these causes. The harms, however, that school shootings create would seem to justify substantial investment in studies that collectively can overcome, or at least partially address, these challenges. These studies should use consistent definitions, create new, more relevant and accurate measures of suspected causal forces, employ theory to guide identification of these forces, examine multicausal and interactive models of school shootings, employ both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, and more.

⚂ Muschert, G. W. (2007). Research in School Shootings. Sociology Compass, 1 (1), 60–80. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9020.2007.00008.x Rashomon effect, which refers to the subjective construction of reality in which observers of a single event perceive incompatible, yet plausible versions of what happened. First suggested by Heider (1988), the term Rashomon effect is derived from the title of a 1951 film by the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa in which four characters who witnessed a crime later describe the event in different and contradictory ways. … As a problem on the public agenda, school shootings recently seem to have been supplanted by other social problems, which now seem more pressing. However, if we believe the social scientists, the status of school shootings has not changed much at all. In this article, I am making a call, echoed by others (e.g. Furlong et al. 2004; Kleck 1999), for continued research into the causes and effects of school shootings, despite the fact that it appears to be a subjective social problem that has declined. Continued research conducted by social scientists contributing to a more organized field of knowledge about school shootings would be most likely to contribute to effective public policy responses to respond to such incidents, or prevent them from occurring. … This article has also attempted to mitigate the Rashomon effect in the social scientific research in school shootings, through providing a comprehensive review of the findings from research in sociology, psychology, and media studies. Given the need to understand school shootings, a unified subfield is needed to move the discussion beyond what we have largely seen: idiosyncratic studies of single incidents written within a single field. To date, much of the research in school shootings has focused on a narrow range of cases that tend to be the higher-profile cases.

⚂ Muschert, G. W., & Sumiala, J. (Eds.). (2012). School shootings: Mediatized violence in a global age. Emerald Group.

⚂ O’Toole, M. E. (2000). The school shooter: A threat assessment perspective. Quantico, VA: National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, Federal Bureau of Investigation.

⚂ Peterson, J., & Densley, J. (2021). The violence project: How to stop a mass shooting epidemic. Abrams Press. First, many mass shooters experience childhood abuse and exposure to violence at a young age, often at the hands of their parents. Parental suicide is common, as is physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence in the home, and severe bullying by classmates. This early exposure to violence and unaddressed trauma feeds the perpetrator’s rage and despair later in life. Mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia commonly develop during adolescence and are rarely identified or treated. … Second, nearly all mass shooters reach an identifiable crisis point in the days, weeks, or months before their violence something that pushes them over the edge. For some, this is a relationship ending or the loss of a job. For others, it is an interpersonal conflict or mental health crisis. For the Parkland shooter, it was the death of his mother. Mass shooters communicate their crises to others in noticeable ways: in changes in their appearance or behavior, or specific threats of violence against themselves or others. Too often, others notice the crises but don’t know how to intervene or to whom to report them.

⚂ Rahtz, H. (2020). Shots fired: Gun violence in the United States. Lynne Rienner. Mass killings. Gang violence. Street crimes. Suicides. Accidental shootings. The United States is enduring a literal epidemic of gun violence. Howard Rahtz, drawing on decades of experience as a police officer all too familiar with the horrors that guns can cause, delves deeply into the nature and impact of this epidemic. Rahtz explores each element of the triangle of ability, desire, and opportunity that typically characterizes gun violence. Going further, he also suggests practical, "left of bang" preventative actions―steps that could limit the violence while respecting contentious Second Amendment rights.

⚂ Reeping, P. (2022). School shootings are preventable, not inevitable. BMJ , o1378. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.o1378

⚂ Rees, C. A., Lee, L. K., Fleegler, E. W., & Mannix, R. (2019). Mass school shootings in the United States: A novel root cause analysis using lay press reports. Clinical Pediatrics, 58 (13), 1423–1428. https://doi.org/10.1177/0009922819873650 School shootings comprise a small proportion of childhood deaths from firearms; however, these shootings receive a disproportionately large share of media attention. We conducted a root cause analysis of 2 recent school shootings in the United States using lay press reports. We reviewed 1760 and analyzed 282 articles from the 10 most trusted news sources. We identified 356 factors associated with the school shootings. Policy-level factors, including a paucity of adequate legislation controlling firearm purchase and ownership, were the most common contributing factors to school shootings. Mental illness was a commonly cited person-level factor, and access to firearms in the home and availability of large-capacity firearms were commonly cited environmental factors. Novel approaches, including root cause analyses using lay media, can identify factors contributing to mass shootings. The policy, person, and environmental factors associated with these school shootings should be addressed as part of a multipronged effort to prevent future mass shootings. … Mental illness and bullying were commonly cited people-level factors contributing to both school shootings. Here, public and mental health advocates and school officials are presented with a call to action.

⚂ Rossin-Slater, M., Schnell, M., Schwandt, H., Trejo, S., & Uniat, L. (2020). Local exposure to school shootings and youth antidepressant use. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117 (38), 23484–23489. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2000804117 While over 240,000 American students experienced a school shooting in the last two decades, little is known about the impacts of these events on the mental health of surviving youth. Using large-scale prescription data from 2006 to 2015, we examine the effects of 44 school shootings on youth antidepressant use. Our empirical strategy compares the number of antidepressant prescriptions written by providers practicing 0 to 5 miles from a school that experienced a shooting (treatment areas) to the number of prescriptions written by providers practicing 10 to 15 miles away (reference areas), both before and after the shooting. We include month-by-year and school-by-area fixed effects in all specifications, thereby controlling for overall trends in antidepressant use and all time-invariant differences across locations. We find that local exposure to fatal school shootings increases youth antidepressant use by 21.4% in the following 2 y. These effects are smaller in areas with a higher density of mental health providers who focus on behavioral, rather than pharmacological, interventions.

⚂ Sandoval, J. (Ed.). (2013). Crisis counseling, intervention and prevention in the schools (3rd ed.). Routledge. This book is designed for an introductory graduate course taken by students in school psychology, school counseling, and school social work. The first three chapters provide a crisis response overview. The next 10 chapters deal with crises for children and adolescents, and the last six chapters cover crises that manifest themselves primarily in adolescence. Discussions of the 16 most prevalent types of crises are covered, including their characteristics, causes, interventions, and preventive programs.

⚂ Schildkraut, J. (Ed.). (2018). Mass shootings in America: Understanding the debates, causes, and responses. ABC-CLIO.

⚂ Schildkraut, J., & Elsass, H. J. (2016). Mass shootings: Media, myths, and realities . ABC-CLIO. In this book, Drs. Schildkraut and Elsass provide keen insights for a better understanding of mass shootings. They provide historical context, statistical information, and analysis of how the public has come to understand the nature of these events. Drawing on many of the most significant mass shootings that have occurred, Drs. Schildkraut and Elsass’s book tells us what we need to know about the media and these celebrated cases. It is through this understanding and analysis that officials and stakeholders might consider innovative ways to more effectively respond to such terrible crimes.

⚂ Shapiro, H. (Ed.). (2018). The Wiley handbook on violence in education: Forms, factors, and preventions. John Wiley & Sons. While attention to tragic school shootings is certainly appropriate, the hyperfocus on isolated cases of gun violence in school and the fortress-like approach to security carry significant drawbacks in terms of maintaining a school climate that is conducive to learning. Certain preventative measures, particularly those that are disproportionate to the actual risk, can serve as constant reminders for impressionable youngsters that schools are under siege. In addition, regarding school shootings as the “new normal” can become a self-fulfilling prophesy by which disgruntled, alienated adolescents continue to perceive violence as the best way to resolve conflict. In the long run, a low-key approach may be the most effective in promoting a safe school environment and alleviating fears.

⚂ Shultz, J. M., Thoresen, S., Flynn, B. W., Muschert, G. W., Shaw, J. A., Espinel, Z., Walter, F. G., Gaither, J. B., Garcia-Barcena, Y., O’Keefe, K., & Cohen, A. M. (2014). Multiple vantage points on the mental health effects of mass shootings. Current Psychiatry Reports, 16 (9), 469. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-014-0469-5 Grounded on a detailed review of the clinical literature on the mental health effects of mass shootings, this paper also incorporates wide-ranging co-author expertise to delineate: 1) the patterning of mass shootings within the international context of firearm homicides, 2) the effects of shooting rampages on children and adolescents, 3) the psychological effects for wounded victims and the emergency healthcare personnel who care for them, 4) the disaster behavioral health considerations for preparedness and response, and 5) the media “framing” of mass shooting incidents in relation to the portrayal of mental health themes. … Concluding Comment. This review has highlighted the multi-faceted nature of mass shootings in relation to the mental health effects. The opportunity to consolidate expert perspective and commentary from several vantage points suggests that future collaboration across disciplines may be beneficial — and needed — for addressing the compelling public health and mental health consequences associated with rampage shooting massacres.

⚂ Teasley, M. L. (2018). School shootings and the need for more school-based mental health services. Children & Schools, 40 (3), 131–134. https://doi.org/10.1093/cs/cdy015 Research demonstrates a complex web of factors associated with school shootings, of which mental health challenges is one variable.

⚂ Travers, A., McDonagh, T., & Elklit, A. (2018). Youth responses to school shootings: A review. Current Psychiatry Reports, 20 (6), 47. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-018-0903-1 This paper aims to synthesize research relating to youth responses to school shootings between 2014 and 2017. The main questions it addresses are how such events impact young people psychologically, and what risk or protective factors may contribute to different trajectories of recovery? … Although the findings of the present review suggest that the majority of young people recover from trauma and restore functioning to pre-exposure levels within a few months, it has been shown that some will experience chronic and severe dysfunction. Some outcomes of interest, such as substance abuse and anger, were not addressed in the studies reviewed here.

⚂ Vossekuil, B., Fein, R. A., Reddy, M., Borum, R., & Modzeleski, W. (2002). The final report and findings of the Safe School Initiative: Implications for the prevention of school attacks in the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education.

⚂ Warnick, B. R., Johnson, B. A., & Rocha, S. (2010). Tragedy and the meaning of school shootings. Educational Theory, 60 (3), 371–390. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-5446.2010.00364.x School shootings are traumatic events that cause a community to question itself, its values, and its educational systems. In this article Bryan Warnick, Benjamin Johnson, and Samuel Rocha explore the meanings of school shootings by examining three recent books on school violence. Topics that grow out of these books include (1) how school shootings might be seen as ceremonial rituals, (2) how schools come to be seen as appropriate places for shootings, and (3) how advice to educators relating to school shootings might change the practice of teaching. The authors present various ways of understanding school shootings that may eventually prove helpful, but they also highlight the problems, tensions, and contradictions associated with each position. In the end, the authors argue, the circumstances surrounding school shootings demonstrate the need for the ‘‘tragic sense’’ in education. This need for the tragic sense, while manifest in many different areas of schooling, is exemplified most clearly in targeted school shootings.

⚂ Weist, M. D., Franke, K. B., & Stevens, R. N. (Eds.). (2020). School behavioral health: Interconnecting comprehensive school mental health and positive behavior support. Springer. Little change is evident across many indicators of progress. Students with emotional and behavioral problems continue to surpass all other disability groups across measures of disciplinary referrals, suspensions, grade retention, and school dropout. Suicide rates among adolescents have seen a recent acceleration, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, poor outcomes endure into adulthood, with unemployment and underemployment, limited enrollment in postsecondary education, and high rates of involvement with the criminal justice system. … we must continue (and perhaps expand) early prevention and intervention efforts. There is ample evidence from rigorous research studies that tiered and preventive systems of support work. For instance, school-wide efforts, such as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), have a substantial impact. These efforts need to be further expanded to all school settings. Most importantly, in spite of PBIS, teachers continue to struggle with students who exhibit emotional and behavioral problems in their classrooms, the setting where students spend most of their school day. This is just one area where attention should be directed. There is an abundance of evidence that pre-service training and in-service support and induction programs are deficient for preparing teachers to support students with challenging behaviors. This must be improved. … Moreover, there are no data to suggest that mental health problems can be entirely eliminated for a variety of risks and environmental reasons. This is supported with convincing models of illness and disease that have been approximated in medicine, public health, and other fields. We must consider intervention a routine practice. At the same time, there is compelling evidence that emotional and behavioral problems can be greatly reduced. This brings us back to the topic of school behavioral health. The efforts we have undertaken over the past several decades are undeniably insufficient. As yet, the pieces have not come together to forge a meaningful impact. And, as this book attests, the answer is not simple. What this book offers is a blueprint for moving forward. The authors spell out the collective effort that is needed to accomplish the important goal of providing comprehensive and effective school behavioral health services. To do so, the authors lay out five themes: (a) building partnerships between education, families, mental health, and other youth-serving systems; (b) developing effective school-wide approaches; (c) promoting cultural responsiveness and humility; (d) improving the quality of services and increasing the use of evidence-based practices; and (e) improving implementation support for evidence-based practices. In addition to these five theme areas, three priority populations – students connecting to child welfare and juvenile justice systems and from military families – are addressed. The authors take a deep dive, rely on community members with unique expertise, and explore issues in a way that has not been previously seen.

⚂ Wike, T. L., & Fraser, M. W. (2009). School shootings: Making sense of the senseless. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14 (3), 162–169. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2009.01.005 Callous and brutal, school shootings seem to make no sense. However, case comparisons and anecdotal reports are beginning to show patterns that provide clues for understanding both the individual factors motivating shooting events and the characteristics of schools where shootings have occurred. We describe these factors and characteristics as the bases for six prevention strategies: (a) strengthening school attachment, (b) reducing social aggression, (c) breaking down codes of silence, (d) establishing screening and intervention protocols for troubled and rejected students, (e) bolstering human and physical security, and (6) increasing communication within educational facilities and between educational facilities and local resources.

⚂ Wilson, L. C. (Ed.). (2017). The Wiley handbook of the psychology of mass shootings. John Wiley & Sons. this book was the only known psychology reference work dedicated exclusively to the study of mass shootings. This may come as a surprise given the immense media and political attention mass shootings have received in the past 15 years. However, one thing that is apparent across the chapters in this volume is that mass shootings are an underresearched area within the field of psychology. This book contains the available empirical evidence, as presented by the foremost authorities in the field, to inform the reader on our current knowledge-base and identify gaps in the literature to guide future studies. …