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According to school violence statistics, school shooting incidents have increased dramatically. This article contains some statistics on school shootings, a profile of people who have participated in school shootings, and tips on what to do about school violence.
School shootings make up a small percentage of youth violence, but they are traumatic events for students, communities, and the nation. Beginning in the 1970s, school shootings have increased and have affected communities across the nation. School shooters do not have a single profile, nor a single reason for their attacks, but there are some ways that adults and students can reduce the chances of an attack occurring.
Schools are sometimes just the place where violence happens, such as in drug or gang related attacks, but in some cases they are the place chosen for an attack. Attackers may target a particular person, a particular group, or the school itself. The U.S. Secret Service did a study on incidents of targeted school shootings, and, as of 2000, found 37 such incidents, beginning in 1974, with the number of incidents increasing each decade. They report that the odds of a high school teen being killed at school in a school shooting for the previous decade were 1 in one million.
In their study of school shootings, the Secret Service found:
There is no single profile that describes the attackers. They come from a variety of ethnic groups, family situations, social groups at school, and levels of academic achievement. Many were part of the mainstream social group and had excellent grades. Most had never been in trouble at school or with the law or acted violently before. A small percentage had previously been diagnosed with mental health problems. The attackers did have some things in common:
At least some school shootings may be preventable if students and adults know what to watch for. School administrators, faculty, and law enforcement should move quickly if there is an indication of a potential school shooting, because the amount of time spent planning can be very short. Students and peers are often the ones who known about a potential attack, so they should be encouraged to be part of the prevention process.
Adults should take seriously any information they receive from students about a potential attack, and should make sure students feel comfortable coming forward.
Peers who have contact with the potential attacker should be contacted by adults if there is a concern about a student planning an attack. Inquiries should be handled carefully so the student of concern is not further isolated or made to feel harassed.
Vossekuil, B., Fein, R., Reddy, M., Borum, R., & Modzeleski, W.,
The Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative: Implications for the
Prevention of School Attacks in the United States. U.S. Department of Education,
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Safe and Drug-Free Schools
Program and U.S. Secret Service, National Threat Assessment Center, Washington, D.C., 2002.
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