UNDERSTANDING OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

  • Public and academic understanding surrounding the phenomenon of school shootings is challenging, due to the Rashomon Effect derived from varying sources of information. While one individual may have one account, another individual's account may completely differ, making research on school shooting and school violence difficult (Muschert, 2007, p. 73).

  • One reason for why people perceive school shootings as an emerging and increasing social problem is due to the fact that news media focuses on the wave of school shootings that occured during the late 1990s and the early 2000s, rather than examining each event separately (Muschert, 2007, p. 73).

THE REALITY OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

  • There is virtually no difference between the rate of criminal victimization in schools in 1989 and the rate of victimization in 1995.

  • Within a span of 10 years, between 1996 and 2006, a total of 207 student homicides occured in the United States, or an average of 21 student deaths per year. If you divide the nation's total number of 125,000 elementary and secondary schools by 21, this means that any given school can expect to experience a student homicide about once every 6,000 years (Borum, R., Cornell, D., Modzeleski, W., and Jimerson, S., 2010, p. 27).

  • The number of multiple-victim homicides at school has declined from six incidents in the 1997-98 school year to two in the 1998-99 school year.

  • In other words, deaths by school violence (and especially school shootings) are rare, with less than 1% of homicides and suicides among school-aged children occuring in or around school settings (Borum, R., Cornell, D., Modzeleski, W., and Jimerson, S., 2010, p. 27).

  • School shootings represent only 0.4% of firearm-related deaths for the 15-24 year old age group. In the United States in 1998, news reports that mentioned school shootings represented 9% of all evening news crime coverage. This is a significant amount of news coverage for a topic which only represents 0.4 percent of homicides (Killingbeck, 2001).

CONCLUDING REMARKS

School shootings have evolved into a moral panic largely as a result of misleading media coverage and community concern. This is due to inconsistent statements by members of the general public combined with public outcry for more "tough on crime" approaches. In reality, the threat of a school shooting occuring in one's own community is minimal; the risk of being a victim of one of these events is miniscule.