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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
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

    • 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. “

    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.”

    • 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