Term Paper: School Shootings by Adults

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[. . .] Most of members attending this conference were school staff members who had personally experienced the school shootings. In this five days period, the participants discussed together around 18 school shooting incidents.

Several findings were concluded by FBI experts in this conference; the most surprising from which was that profiling the cases is not the right method for controlling school shootings. The experts were not able to make clear agreement on the point that associating some set of characteristics to the attackers can provide any help in preventing these schools. Indeed, the experts were of the view that drawing a checklist to detect the shooters can be dangerous. This is because such characteristics will unfairly label some innocent students as violent.

Therefore, instead of making such checklists, it is important to communicate with the students to and find out the possibilities of such attacks. Experts concluded that this was helpful because most of the attackers share their planning and intentions of shooting before the attacks. This communication can be used as a possibility to prevent these shootings by investigating the situations in which students showed their intentions or did preparations for committing such an attack in school. According to the FBI report, this process of 'threat assessment approach' should focus on traits and behaviors and the family, social and school dynamics.

The other study that was performed by the U.S. Secret Service & U.S. Department of Education is the 'Safe Schools Initiative' (Vossekuil et al., 2002).. This study involved detailed case studies of 37 schools that suffered from shooting attacks by 41 attackers in the period of last 25 years.

It was found in the study that all of the attackers involved were boys and most of them used guns. All of these attackers had plans to commit such acts 2 days before the incident and in some cases they were planning since one year. Their aim of doing such attacks was to take revenge as most of the attackers had complaints against the other students or school itself.

There were several other important findings which the U.S. Secret Service and Department of Education released in form of a guide. This guide was than widely spread to the U.S. schools with the help of training programs. These programs were arranged by the Department of Education and Secret Service with the mission of benefiting schools to prevent attacks.

Measures To Prevent School Shootings

Following are some of the ways through which school shootings can be prevented.

Gun Free Schools Act

The schools now follow the Gun-Free Schools Act (GFSA), according to which a student who brings a gun or any other weapon to school should be expelled from the school for a period of one year. This Act was added to the 'Improving America's School Act in 1994', at the time when the violence in schools was at its peak and around 322,400 incidents of serious crimes took place in America (Dinkes, Cataldi, & Lin-Kelly, 2007).

Strict Rules and Zero Tolerance

The school managements now take serious steps even on minor violence acts of students and do not wait for something serious to happen. It is important to note that after serious shootings in schools; today most of the schools in America have such policies and many schools have also expelled students. However, according to the American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force (2008), there has been no empirical evidence if such steps have reduced the school violence. In fact, these policies have been criticized by the parents who think these are hindrance in a healthy child development.

Security Measures

Schools in United States are taking security measures to prevent violence since last several years. They have installed metal detectors and cameras for monitoring the behavior of students and also hired police and security services for school premises Today many schools have basic security measures, these include; school staff monitoring, searching student lockers, strict check on entry and exit of school, checking visitor's passes and other necessary measures (Redding & Shalf, 2001).

Safe Schools

According to the No Child Left behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), the state should develop policies and allow student to choose a safe school of the district if he or she becomes the victim of the criminal behavior in the dangerous school. However, this Act does not provide the criteria or time frame for transferring students to the safer school (Mayer & Leone, 2007).

Six Strategies to Control Risk Factors

Along with the above measures, it is also important to address the malleable risk factors. Following are the six strategies that have come from literature, which can play a significant role in controlling risk factors and reducing school shootings (Wike and Fraser, 2009).

1. Making the school attachment strong by increasing the investment of staff and students in the school community.

2. Reducing social aggression of students and teachers with the help of skill training programs.

3. Encouraging students to break the silence and share their concerns.

4. Addressing the emotional and social needs of the students; especially those who suffer from anger, depression and show suicidal intentions.

5. Increasing human and physical security in the school.

6. Increase and improve communication and relations within school and also between the school agencies. Information if received prior to attacks can serve as a warning to save lives.

Conclusion

It can be concluded from the above paper that shootings in schools by juveniles and adults is a critical issue. Due to its seriousness, it has gained public as well as authorities attention and several steps have been taken to resolve this issue.

These steps include making changes in the school Acts, studying the social criminology theories to find out the reason behind such violent individuals, identifying the malleable risk factors, designing strategies and taking steps to prevent such happenings in the school.

Despite all these efforts, the schools of United States are not able to totally control these incidents and the killing rate in the school is stable since last few years. However, it is believed by the experts that if adults and juveniles in schools are given a chance to express and share their concerns, than they will not reach to the extreme violent behaviors that results in shootings in school.

References

American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force. (2008). Are zero tolerance policies effective in the schools? An evidentiary review and recommendations. American Psychologist, 63, 852 -- 862.

Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010) Fact Sheet. Understanding School Violence, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Dinkes, C. And Kelly, W. (2007). Indicators of school crime and safety: Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

Federal Bureau of Investigation. (1994 -- 2000). Uniform crime reports: Crime in the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office

Heckel, V. & Schumaker, M. (2001). Children who murder: A psychological perspective. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Hirschi, T. (1969). Causes of delinquency. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Mayer, M.J., & Leone, P.E. (2007). School violence and disruption revisited: Equity and safety in the school house. Focus on Exceptional Children, 40(1), 1 -- 28.

McGee, J., & DeBernardo, C. (1999). The classroom avenger:A behavioral profile of school-based shootings. Forensic Examiner, 8, 16 -- 18.

Meloy, J.R., Hempel, A., Mohandie, K., Shive, A., & Gray, B.T. (2001). Offender and offense characteristics of a nonrandom sample of adolescent mass murderers. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40, 719 -- 728.

Moore, M., Petrie, C., Braga, A., & McLaughlin, B. (2003). Deadly lessons: Understanding lethal school violence. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

National Center for Children Exposed to Violence. (2006). School violence. Retrieved Nov 10, 2012, from http://www.nccev.org/violence / school.html

National School Safety and Security Services. (2009). School Associated Violent Deaths and School Shootings.

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

Retrieved 11 November 2012 http://www.schoolsecurity.org/trends/school_violence.html.

Redding, R., & Shalf, S. (2001). Legal context of school violence: The effectiveness of federal, state, and local law enforcement efforts to reduce gun violence in schools. Law and Policy, 23, 297 -- 343.

Sutherland, E.H. (1939). Principles of criminology (3rd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott.

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… [END OF PREVIEW]

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