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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence
enced a shooting in which one person was killed and two were wounded in 1992. And a school in New York experienced two incidents involving multiple victimizations. In an incident in late 1991, one person was killed and one was injured. In a second incident shortly thereafter in February 1992, two people were killed. We decided to develop cases on these events in addition to four from among the cases Congress identified.
With regard to the suburban and rural cases, the committee was aware that in three of the sites listed in the legislation, the shooters had been interviewed for case studies conducted by others, including the Secret Service, the Department of Education, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We assumed that the previously studied sites would not be particularly amenable to yet another team of researchers conducting an in-depth examination of their community and decided to exclude them from our sample. We decided that we could better add to the knowledge base by selecting sites that had not been previously studied. We had hoped to be able to examine data from the Secret Service and Department of Education case studies of other rural and suburban sites for our analysis, but confidentiality agreements between the researchers and their subjects precluded this possibility. In the end, we chose the following six cases for close examination:
Heritage High School, Rockdale County, Georgia
Parker Middle School, Edinboro, Pennsylvania
Heath High School, Paducah, Kentucky
Westside Middle School, Jonesboro, Arkansas
Tilden High School, Chicago, Illinois
Thomas Jefferson High School, East New York, New York
THE CASE TEMPLATE
Once the cases were chosen, the next decision was what information to gather for each case. The aim was to be sure that there was enough information to be able to consider a variety of possible explanations for the violence that was at the center of the cases, and to gather the information as consistently as possible from one case to another in order to be able to check for the presence or absence of each particular variable. The committee developed a template that each case-writing team could use to guide their data collection efforts. A shortened form of that template follows:
Situational factors: Narrative description of the events immediately surrounding the incident (leading up to and immediate response to