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Can School Shootings be prevented ?. Outline. Background Information Profiling a School Shooter Motives Red Flags Threat analysis Can we prevent a School Shooting?. 1. Background Information. Definition: (former) student , prepared deed, victims are at random, not chosen

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Can School Shootings be prevented ?

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Can school shootings be prevented
Can School Shootings be prevented?


  • Background Information

  • Profiling a School Shooter

  • Motives

  • Red Flags

  • Threat analysis

  • Can we prevent a School Shooting?

1 background information
1. Background Information

  • Definition: (former) student , prepared deed, victims are at random, not chosen

  • Statistics: Shootings are rare, ca. 80 worldwide, 1913 Germany till the eighties ca. once a year, since 1988 more frequently, in 2009 14 Schootings 38 deadly casualties

  • Every 5th Shooter kills himself

  • Most Shooters are boys

  • Leaking

2 profiling a shooter
2. Profiling a Shooter

  • Scientific knowledge is poor

  • Perpetrators have not much in common

  • But there are some characteristics that the majority of the shooters share


  • Introvert “loner”, nihilistic ideas, feels bullied

  • Depressed and sometimes suicidal thougts

  • Before the Shooting the Shooter often experiences a personal failure

  • The perpetrator plans the deed over a long period of time and announces the Shooting on the internet, in school assignments, drawings: ‘leaking’


  • Often Shooters feel that others cannot see their capacities

  • Attraction to violent films, books, music, games

  • Having negative role models like serial killers, Hitler, other school shooters

  • Shooters mostly don’t come from “broken homes”

  • Coming from suburban /rural settings

3 motives
3. Motives

  • “I don’t like Mondays”

  • “I hate the human race”

  • Feeling unseen

  • Experienced bullying together with narcissism

  • Very often they feel that life is meaningless

4 red flags
4. Red flags

  • Leaking

  • Violent fantasies

  • Problems with anger and aggression

  • Fascination for weapons and military clothes

  • Self chosen isolation from parents, friends, teachers

  • Expressing depression and suicidal thoughts

  • Negative role models

  • Fascination for other School Shootings

  • Threatening with violence


  • In 95% prior knowledge of School Shootings

    • 82% knew directly by shooter

    • 13% were told second hand

  • 4% attempted to dissuade the attacker from violence

  • Red flags
    Red flags

    • Before all Shootings there were warning signals

    • Careful with interpretation of this signals

    • Some Red Flags are more important than others

    • A combination of Red Flags should always lead to further steps

    5 threat analyses
    5. Threat analyses

    • Dr. Mary O’Toole, FBI

    • Low level of threat: indirect, vague, lacks details

    • Medium level of threat: more direct , threatener has given some thought to how the act will be carried out, general indication of a possible place and time, threat is not empty: "I‘m serious!" or "I really mean this!“

    • High level of threat: direct, specific and plausible, suggests concrete steps, indicating that threatener has acquired or practiced with a weapon

    Threat analyses what to do
    Threat analyses: What to do?

    • Low level threat: conversation with the student and his parents and also with the victims of the threat.

    • Medium level threat: Talk to colleagues, school psychologist, do accurate research.

    • High level threat: go to the police immediately

    • Every school should have a plan for action in the case of high level threats

    Can school shootings be prevented

    • 6. Can we prevent School Shootings?

    Eric harris columbine shooter there is nothing you guys could have done to prevent any of this
    Eric Harris, Columbine Shooter: “There is nothing you guys could have done to prevent any of this. “

    Can school shootings be prevented

    LukeWoodham, Pearl High Shooter: “I think they should try to bond more with their students….Talk to them….It doesn’t have to be about anything. Just have some kind of relationship with them.”

    Can school shootings be prevented

    • Listening to students within and outside the classroom

    • Do not accept stereotypes and biases

    • Be informed and inform others about RED FLAGS

    • Other students are the most important informants, 95% knew about the plans of a Shooting only 4% alarmed a grown up

    • Create a positive school climate, no bullying, students trust their teachers, students feel accepted

    • Get parents involved

    • Organize social events, be part of these, know your students

    • Give students who fail a perspective, help them find an other school if necessary

    Can school shootings be prevented

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