Study shows rapid rise in mass school shootings in the US

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More people have died or been injured in mass school shootings in the US in the past 18 years than in the entire 20th century. In a new study published in Springer's Journal of Child and Family Studies, researchers have reviewed the history of mass school shootings in the US and found some alarming trends. Lead author Antonis Katsiyannis of Clemson University in the US, together with his colleagues, found the recent killing of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida is not an isolated occurrence, but part of a deadly epidemic that needs to be addressed.

A is defined as a "mass shooting" when four or more people are killed (excluding the shooter). Sporadic shootings have occurred at various points in the history of theUS. For example, in 1940 a junior high school principal killed six adults including the school's district business manager. No similar mass shootings occurred in the 1950s and 1960s. However, school shootings have been steadily increasing since 1979. Overall, the death toll from mass school shootings was 12 in the 1980s and 36 in the 1990s.

During the 20th century, mass school shootings killed 55 people and injured 260 others at schools especially in America's Western region. Most of the 25 shooters involved were white males who acted alone, and only nine were diagnosed as suffering from mental illnesses at the time. Sixty percent of shooters were between 11 and 18 years old.

Since the start of the 21st century there have already been 13 incidents involving lone shooters; they have killed 66 people and injured 81 others.

"In less than 18 years, we have already seen more deaths related to than in the whole 20th century. One alarming trend is that the overwhelming majority of 21st-century shooters were adolescents, suggesting that it is now easier for them to access guns, and that they more frequently suffer from or limited conflict resolution skills," says Katsiyannis.

The authors explain that such violence can be mitigated through deliberate and sensible policy and legislative actions. These include expanded background checks of potential gun owners, and a ban on assault weapons. Mental health issues among adolescent students and adults should also be addressed more thoroughly. School personnel should also implement tiered models of support and school-based mental health services to support students' social, emotional, and behavioral well-being and prevent school violence.

"Preventative efforts not only require policy and legislative action but increased and targeted funding across federal, state, local and private sectors," adds Katsiyannis.

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More information: Antonis Katsiyannis et al, 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 (2018). DOI: 10.1007/s10826-018-1096-2
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Citation: Study shows rapid rise in mass school shootings in the US (2018, April 19) retrieved 24 August 2019 from
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Apr 19, 2018
A fact is, this article leaves important facts out.
Among other things, the attempt to make it look like school shootings have always been here. The 1940 incident, for example, was a principal shooting adults. The majority of incidents these days have children as victims and, very often, as perpetrators. But there is a suggested progression from the 1940 incident to the University of Texas tower shooter to things like what the Douglas shooting is described as. Including in shootings initially being years apart to one a month or so now. Again, though, other points are obvious, such as that gun ownership checks were laughable years ago, and attacks were non existent. Checks are much more stringent now, and attacks are more frequent.

Apr 19, 2018
The prevalence of drugs now must also be considered, as well as the effects that can come from kids having sensibilities no deeper than video game shooting and being attuned to pre packaged video game entertainment rather than having an ability to do for themselves. Now, the general philosophy of movies that kids watch is that any problem can be solved by killing enough of the right group of individuals. Entertainment in the past included such things as individuals not liking to kill, even for a want, and especially not for a whim. People saw cases of individuals finding ways around disappointments or even open threats. There were cases when individuals would actually look to see if maybe more good came out of their whim not being satisfied than if they got their whim. Video games give many a choice only to kill.

Apr 20, 2018
Don't bring video games into this. It isn't about that.

Apr 20, 2018
The point is, it seems something has gone haywire in US society, and now we have kids getting guns and going and shooting their schoolmates. What are we going to do about it? "Nothing" is looking less and less like an option.

Apr 20, 2018

A shooting is defined as a "mass shooting" when four or more people are killed

So two or three are just 'casual shootings' or what?

What are we going to do about it?

Here's a hypothesis: Change the attitude of entitlement. Kids in the US get this notion that they are entitled to all the goods in the world - that they can be anything and have anything with little or no effort. (Yes, the media portray it that way but nowadays it seems to be not just the media but culturally ingrained akin to a 'manifest destiny')
Is it any wonder that kids despair when they start to realize - in their later school years- that it's not going to happen faced with a seemingly insurmountable disadvantage against those who applied themselves or who just have rich parents? At an age where emotions are the most volatile?

Having loads of guns lying about doesn't help, either. Teens look for quick "fixes". Nothing quicker than a gun.

Apr 20, 2018
Anyone blaming the shooters and their detached parents?...............I thought not.

Apr 20, 2018
Maybe we can dial back the angst in traditional mass media, television, movies, video games, music, social media, and other popular social determinants just a bit considering we're not mostly adolescents any more.

On the other hand now the President is doing angst and self-serving transparent lies, and around 40% of the US population is helping him spew lies they wouldn't tolerate from their toddler, so like I asked above, what are we going to do about it? You can lead a person to data but you can't make them think.

Apr 20, 2018
And yet mass shootings per capita have declined. Isn't that a more honest and accurate statistic?

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