Secret Service study shows some commonalities of school attackers
A new analysis from the United States Secret Service looks at 41 school attacks since the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. And there are some commonalities among the accused school attackers.
The U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center released a new report compiling 20 years of research into school shootings. The goal was to identify students of concern, identify risk, develop strategies to manage that risk, and, importantly, the threshold for intervention should be low.
A common profile for what makes a school shooter was not established with the research of over 40 school shootings. The shooters varied in age, gender, race, grade level, academic performance and social characteristics.
But, according to the chief of the threat assessment center, there was at least one similar characteristic.
“Most attackers had exhibited at least one mental health symptom in the years and months and weeks prior to their attacks,” said Dr. Lina Alathari, the chief of the assessment center.
Typically, attackers also had multiple motives, grievances with classmates, most were victims of bullying, and all attackers experienced social stressors involving their relationships.
Most were disciplined in school, and most communicated their intent to attack.
Unfortunately, the investigation determined these symptoms were often seen prior to the attacks but usually were not called in.
The biggest takeaway for parents, teachers and students: If you see something, say something.
- Protecting America’s Schools: U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence
- U.S. Secret Service – Making Schools Safer
- Secret Service report (PDF)