Good Research Paper About Mass School Shootings
Causes & Solution
FBI and other national security agencies have spent decades in analyzing, assessing and preventing any threat to every American, though it is relatively easier tracking and uncovering plans of a big terrorist group, it is close to impossible to expect what a loner wolf can do.
Most of the mass massacre incidents including school shootings have been done by individuals with personality disorders, with proper planning to prove their superiority and express their grudge. The mass shooting incidents are on a rise, though other violent crimes and gun violence have decreased from the previous years as shown in the figure:
Figure 1 Rate Of Mass Shooting , http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/11/06/surveillance-is-not-enough-to-prevent-shootings
Various research and studies to examine the profile and characteristics of a mass shooter have been carried out and claim that the only common traits among the previous mass shooters was their antisocial and indifferent nature, usually a lonesome and cornered. The lack of recognition
and fame is a strong factor why they choose to engage in such terrorizing acts of violence. There can be different kinds of grudges and reasons for rage however the motive for opening fire on innocent children is directly related to showcasing power and force as shown in the following chart:
Figure 2 http://originalwavelength.blogspot.com/2008/09/why-school-shootings-happen-in-affluent.html
As these criminals are not part of any managed gangs or groups thus it is virtually impossible to arrest them beforehand, however certain preventive measures by society and especially by media can decrease the incidents significantly. The common citizens also believe that only surveillance and deputing security in school premises is not the solution. The social media, news and entertainment media as well as the social reform organizations need to make a collaborative effort in appreciating righteous values rather than publicizing negative propaganda of such criminals.Introduction
According to recent statistics by FBI, the rate of violent crime including murders have been on a decline since 1991, however the rate of mass murders or man slaughter is increasing claiming about 15000 lives every year only in US. Ever since the beginning of the century the incidents of mass murders is on rise throughout the globe and the situation in US is no different
A Congressional Research Service report published in March 2013 stated that in the last thirty years, mass shootings have claimed 547 lives leaving as many as 476 people injured physically, the psychological effects it could have stem are still uncountable. Shortly, FBI published a report in 2014 claiming that mass shooting or manslaughter have risen significantly from an average of 6.4 annually in the period 2000 to 2006 to 16.4 annually in the period of 2007 and 2013.
Since the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in December 2012, there have been almost 74 incidences of similar mass shootings at school, with a majority of attacks in k-12 level.
The following image (figure 3) shows the distribution of events portraying the sad reality that these incidences are not directed to certain social class, state, ethnicity or region that in itself is a terrorizing factor leading to the conclusion that no school is safe. Also, as the security agencies declare that there is no definite pattern among the school shootings and every incident have shown diverse profiles for criminals and different reasons from bullying and drugs to personal grudges and psychological disorders.
Figure 3 Mass shootings in US,
Even though mass shootings or manslaughter is a depressing event, however such incidents at schools especially in elementary schools is an even more tragic yet alarming pointing to something that is very wrong within our society.
This paper will look into the causes and reasons, with different cases of mass school shootings to analyze the profile of the shooter as well as the target. Additionally the paper will discuss some solutions to limit such incidents and to equip the targets to face such situations.
Schools Mass Shootings & Research Stats
Mass Shooter Profile & Motive
Dr. Dewey Cornell a forensic clinical psychologist, Educationist and director of Virginia Youth Violence Project, claims that every school shooting incident forces criminal psychologists and security professionals to deduce the underlying reasons that might have triggered the event. However, all findings of a case are contradicted in the next event. He adds that in 1990s there were similar episodes of shootings in urban, up class schools concluding as an “urban war zone” that was contradicted later by similar events in rural schools. It was believed that this might be provoked by social class stress. Later incidents such as at Columbine High School, gave rise to a new reasons for shooting as bullying. In later years, use and availability of drugs and arms, discrimination and mistreatment were added to the list of reasons that could provoke an individual to open fire killing people at random and often killing themselves.
According to a study by CCHR International, 35 of the school related shootings or violent acts were done by individuals who had strong history of psychiatric drugs for antidepressants, antipsychotic, ADHD etc such as Prozac, Risperdal, Vyvanse, Zoloft, Lexapro, Geodon, Xanax and Ambien. This study gave a strong definition for the profile of mass shooters; psychiatric disorders and mental illness. It is a known fact that certain medications can have effects similar to that of other prohibited drugs and can put the person in a different mindset.
On the contrary, Michael D. Kelleher profiles a mass murder very differently in his book “Flash Point”. He explicitly states that mass murders or shooter are rarely insane or have psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia. He defines that these murders have personality disorders with overwhelming resentment, pretentiousness, pomposity and a self of entitlement to do justice and punish those who deserve it. This theory also relates closely to the cases where shooters were hurt emotionally by the targets in particular or general and the shooting was a revenge for their affected narcissism. Unlike serial killers who have usually feel a pleasure hurting, abusing or killing their targets, mass shooters are usually frustrated and weak souls who would blame everyone in their surroundings as the reason for their loss.
Several experts believe that mass murders/shootings are senseless spree or there usually no definite motive such as envy, robbery or personal grudge, unlike any other violent crime mass shootings are an act of frustration. In cases of shootings on the elementary schools it is quite evident that the shooter would not have a motive of envy, robbery or grudge for being discriminated or bullied.
A very interesting trait that is often observed among shooters or mass murders is imitation and competition and at some point accepted that they wanted to be remembered. The Newton school shooter was found to have a score card of previous school tragedies and crossed that number. It can be believed that these mass shooters do not open fire impulsively but it is inspired from the history of massacres and they follow the trail of the most notorious shooters.
This trait also points to the fact that the act of opening fire at a school where average age of students is 5-10 years is purely with the intention of terrorism and a demonstration of power. According to famous forensic psychiatrist Paul Mullen, terrorism is a vengeance against the entire society and is the main motive of all mass shooters/murderers. Assertion of terror and power on random people especially in the case of shootings on elementary schools brings a sense of fulfillment of the unrequited pretentiousness. Attacks on innocent school children maximizes the terror and the horror of the mass destruction even more and that gives the pleasure of power and vengeance to the shooter. The choice of elementary school doesn’t only gives the shooter an opportunity to demonstrate a terrorizing act of massacre in competition with the past massacres but also fulfills their self-imagined grandiosity.
The above discussed motives or reasons for why would an attacker choose school are also illustrated by the following chart researched and published by Los Angeles Joint Regional Intelligence by analyzing school shootings in US over five years:
Figure 4: Motives/Reasons,
According to the report published by Los Angeles Joint Regional Intelligence, 96% of the attackers were male in the age group of 16 to 18 years old. In most of the incidents about 49% of the events the victims were the direct targets and only 21% events random victims were shot and the shooter was in no way related to the school or the victims.
Solutions To Mass School Shootings
Analyzing various factors and cases of mass shootings at schools points to the basic conclusion that there can’t be a quick fix. After every such incident the gun control and ownership rights come into debate and is often seen as the right solution. In a survey, 50% Americans believed that controlled gun ownership will limit or lower the mass massacre threat while 46% supported the right of every legal citizen to own a gun. However, according to FBI statistics the gun violence is not on increase, thus only controlling the ownership will not resolve the situation.
It is also a fact that school shootings are a rare incident as compared to other targets of mass shootings or massacre where more easy targets are available such as theaters and malls, thus provision of surveillance and security staff can be a safety procedure but cannot be a solution to the issue.
Precautionary measures in a school of any level is as important as the solution. Equipping the teachers and staff to be able to identify and counsel students or even other members on staff who appear to be loner or troubled with a personality disorder. As explained earlier, mass shooters are usually characterized as loner and invisible in their social circle, helping them to socialize might prevent them from engaging in any such act.
As various forensic psychiatrists believe that most mass shooters need fame for their notorious scandal and want to be remembered following the path of previous delinquents. It is important that media and news take away all the limelight from such offenders and do not show their lives and profiles as celebrities, as that recognition might attract another invisible soul to gain recognition by following the same pattern of expressing their unrequited identity. This approach has been widely acknowledged by several experts and was tested in 1984 when a rampage of suicides broke out in Vienna on their subway system. The Austrian Association for Suicide Prevention researched the facts and decided that sensational and heroic reporting was a major factor attracting young minds to achieve a glorious and celebrated death. The media took the advice and the reporting was minimized and the stories were moved into inner pages of the newspaper from front page, declining the number of suicides to75%.
Today the role of media is even more prevalent and quick. Though this is not a quick solution but steady approach of media of not reminding the public of the notorious acts would not make them remembered.
It is also equally important that media and news do not share the propaganda, lives, grudges or views publically as that might relate closely to those of any other person who is prone to develop the same psychotic behavior. For example a perpetuator who committed mass massacre for being bullied by his fellow students might give a motive for another young mind who is also bullied or discriminated on race, ethnicity or physical appearance.
Mass shootings in schools forms a small percentage of the total violent crimes committed in US however the rate of mass shootings and especially in schools in on rise. Unlike other crimes mass murdering has several different motives and most of the time the real motive is unknown. The cases of mass shootings are diversified and the leads collected in one case are often contradicted in another. However, the forensic experts believe that mass murders want recognition and fame by terrorizing and painting a horror picture to express their rage and to realize their self-proclaimed superiority. In a school, students or even staff members who are ignored, discriminated, bullied or even remain unnoticed due to their unsocial ways can turn into criminals.
As psychologists and criminal psychiatrists believe people take influences from their surroundings and seeing people like them express their rage by terrorizing and killing people can be a motive for them too.
Mass murderers are troubled personalities and show a percentage of our society who believes in choosing the terrorizing ways to acclaim their grandiosity, therefore the society needs to help them. The school counselors, church and focus groups can all collaborate to nurture these young minds along with media to emphasize righteous values and behavior.
CCHR International. 35 School shooters/school related violence committed by those under the influence of psychiatric drugs. 2014. web. January 2014.
Cornell, Dewey G. "Gun violence and mass shootings — myths, facts and solutions." The Washington Post (2014). news paper.
JRIC. "(U//FOUO) Los Angeles Fusion Center: School Shootings Five-Year Analysis 2008-2013." JRIC (2013). report.
Katy Hall, Jan Diehm. "All 74 School Shootings Since Newtown, In One Depressing Map." Huffington Post 06 October 2014. web.
Schulman, Ari. "There Is No Such Thing as a Motive for Mass Killings." Times (November,2013). magazine.
—. "What Mass Killers Want—And How to Stop Them." The Wallstreet Journal (2013). Journal.
Wihbey, John. "Mass murder, shooting sprees and rampage violence: Research roundup." JournalistsResources-Harvard Kennedy School September 2014. Research Journal.
Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.
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