8
A Cross-Case Analysis

Because of the variability among the cases presented in Chapters 27, the committee conducted a cross-case analysis. It is valuable to compare the cases systematically to see what this small sample of incidents can tell us in terms of factors that are present in all the cases, those that are present in some cases and not others, and those that are entirely absent. Through such activities we can parlay this small number of complex cases into a more coherent pattern of understanding. Later, in Chapter 11, we consider the cases as though they were a small dataset that can be used to influence our judgments about likely causes and plausibly effective interventions. We begin by describing the committee’s analytic framework for creating and analyzing the cases and the method of inference used. We then test the plausibility of different substantive claims that are made about the important causes of these events.

ANALYTIC FRAMEWORK AND METHOD OF INFERENCE

As described in Chapter 10, violence can best be understood through processes operating at multiple levels of explanation, taking account of the dynamics that seem necessary, if not sufficient, to produce a violent incident (National Research Council, 1993). These levels include factors operating at the social, community, group or subcultural, family, and individual levels of society. They often change—sometimes rapidly. In addition, sequences of events, powered and guided by microsocial processes, are often important in transforming the potential for violence into



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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence 8 A Cross-Case Analysis Because of the variability among the cases presented in Chapters 2– 7, the committee conducted a cross-case analysis. It is valuable to compare the cases systematically to see what this small sample of incidents can tell us in terms of factors that are present in all the cases, those that are present in some cases and not others, and those that are entirely absent. Through such activities we can parlay this small number of complex cases into a more coherent pattern of understanding. Later, in Chapter 11, we consider the cases as though they were a small dataset that can be used to influence our judgments about likely causes and plausibly effective interventions. We begin by describing the committee’s analytic framework for creating and analyzing the cases and the method of inference used. We then test the plausibility of different substantive claims that are made about the important causes of these events. ANALYTIC FRAMEWORK AND METHOD OF INFERENCE As described in Chapter 10, violence can best be understood through processes operating at multiple levels of explanation, taking account of the dynamics that seem necessary, if not sufficient, to produce a violent incident (National Research Council, 1993). These levels include factors operating at the social, community, group or subcultural, family, and individual levels of society. They often change—sometimes rapidly. In addition, sequences of events, powered and guided by microsocial processes, are often important in transforming the potential for violence into

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence the concrete reality of an event. The ideas and cognitions that operate in the heads of offenders are important as they become agents of violent events. The aim here is to bridge these different levels of analysis. Our interests go beyond what might have caused the individual shooting and what might have prevented it. We are also interested in the incident as a cause of both a community and a policy response. Table 8-1 is a representation of the committee’s analysis. Although lacking precision, the table is meant to convey the extreme rarity of school rampage violence within the larger picture of lethal school violence, other serious youth violence, youth violence in general, and violence in general. In reviewing the cases, the case authors and committee members developed multiple hypotheses about what might be driving the behavior and checked them against the data collected in the six cases. For example, in one case an offender had a more successful older sibling; in another the family of the offender had recently moved into town; in another the offender knew a great deal about a previous school rampage shooting, and those attending school were organized in a large number of subcultures with few overlapping members and little interaction with one another. We then considered whether there was a plausible causal connection between the feature observed and the likelihood that the violent incident would have occurred or would have taken a particular shape. If the factor showed up in any of the other cases and seemed to be working in the same way, then there was a plausible hypothesis about an important causal phenomenon. If little such evidence was found, then the hypothesis seemed less likely to be true, or less important even if true, because its impact could not be seen across the cases examined. We also considered some common hypotheses—for example, that the offenders had been bullied and the attack was an attempt to get back at those who bullied them, or that the schools in which the incidents had occurred had allowed cliques to form and to skirmish with one another in the school—and looked at the cases for any examples. If none of the cases was characterized by such a feature, that cast significant doubt on either the truth or the importance of that factor as a contributing cause of the violence. These methods, although not systematic enough to confirm or refute alternative causal explanations, could be viewed as an effort to undertake the preliminary scientific task of generating causal hypotheses and doing the rough work of casual inspection that helps make some hypotheses seem stronger than others. In this approach, part of the task is to reduce confidence in any particular claim by imagining the variety of things that could be true and then ordering the claims according to some rough sense of plausibility.

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES Table 8-2, at the end of this chapter, lays out the details of the case studies for ease of comparison. All seven of these incidents involved young people arming themselves, in several cases with semiautomatic weapons, and opening fire on their schoolmates and teachers, killing or seriously injuring them (mean fatalities: 2.2; mean injuries: 4.5; all but 4 killed or injured were other students). The incidents occurred in places that were supposed to be safe—the hallways and common areas of schools and at a school-sponsored event. The offenders were all young themselves—most were age 13 or 14 (range: 11–15). The offenders in six of the seven incidents were convicted of homicide in adult courts, and most were sentenced to long prison terms. These events also took place in a society that seems to encourage or condone violence. The popular culture is tolerant of violence. The United States has the world’s largest supply of privately owned weapons (used in four of these incidents). And recently there was a dramatic increase in violence occasioned at least in part by an epidemic of cocaine use fueled and supported by violent illegal drug markets. In the committee’s view, levels of violence are influenced by such structural factors, and we cannot exclude their importance in producing the events examined, although it is hard to find direct evidence of these factors in the cases. All of these events occurred in the sturm and drang of adolescent development. The youth who committed the offenses were young men trying to become grownups. They were intensely concerned with their status and power, with their masculinity, and with their relationships with members of the opposite sex. They were all vulnerable to exaggerated hopes and fears and to the perceptions and judgments of peers and adults. At this time of life, it is easy to imagine that one is under threat, or that there are certain things one has to do to gain attention or standing in the world. It is also a time of life when adult authority and norms are being contested. These processes were at work in both the inner city and in the suburban and rural areas. An important difference between the inner-city and suburban and rural contexts lies in the coherence of the events. In each of the three incidents in the two inner-city schools, the offender had a specific reason to shoot when he did, where he did, and at whom he did. Moreover, the reasons given were comprehensible to their peers and even to the adults and officials who investigated and responded to the events. The shootings were occasioned by a very specific relationship between the shooter and some other student at school, which ripened into an unresolved dispute, in which there was a continuing, seemingly credible threat of violence

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence TABLE 8-1 Stages in the Development and Aftermath of the Incident Factors Leading To Incidents Durable Conditons That Create Potential For Violent Incident Micro/Social, Situational Processes That Transform Potential Into Act Society Wide Poverty Economic inequality Racial discrimination Culture of violence Weapon availability   Community Economic isolation Rapid mobility Inter-group conflict   School Inadequate resources Ineffective management Ineffective discipline Weak faculty/student relations Poor physical security Arbitrary disciplinary actions Unexpected negative feedback Local Youth Culture Violent norms/scripts Inter-group conflict Non-inclusive cliques Bullying Status hierarchies Status threats Physical threats Audience for violence Family Broken homes Emotional distance Inattentive parenting Sibling Competition Parental crises Parental rebukes Individual Psychology Low cognitive functioning Acute feelings of inadequacy Fear and rage against the person who ended up doing the shooting. There were even intimate, local encouragements for the shootings to occur, in the sense that there was a youthful audience that knew about the dispute, understood the rules by which such disputes could be settled, and would have viewed the reluctance of the shooter to act as an invitation to degrade his status and make him a victim because of his reluctance to use force to defend his status and, in one case, the status of his brother. The four suburban and rural incidents lacked this coherence and social clarity. That is not to say that these shooters didn’t have their reasons to shoot. Like the inner-city shooters, the suburban and rural shooters

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence The Incident Immediate, First Round Consequences of Incident Social Interpretation and Response to Incident Longer Term, Second Round Consequences and Response to Incident Location Weapons Number of victims Seriousness of injuries Relationship of victims to offender How ended: –Suicide –Legal interven. –Citizen interven. –Flight Notoriety Media coverage Commentary in media Commentary in expert communities Changes in federal policy Research studies Shock Self-defense Local political discussion Civil court processing Security Decisions Broad discussion of cases and prevention Grief counseling Installation of new security Creation of new relations w/students Shock Self-defense Hidden discussion among youth? Altered relations Willingness to report Humiliation Sadness Soul searching Getting on with life Criminal justice processing Trial Civil court processing were intensely interested in defending or elevating their social standing. They believed that they were being ignored, or were under attack, or had been unjustly treated. That provided much of the energy they used in preparing for and executing the attack. Yet in the suburban and rural shootings, the shooters’ perceptions seemed to have little basis in reality, or, if they were real, they were not widely understood or shared by others. The acts were more the product of aberrant thought than of requirements of social circumstances—as reflected in the occasion, the victims, and the targets of the shooting. The suburban shooters were not being threatened with physical violence at

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence the time they shot. While there was often some relationship between the suburban shooters and those at whom they shot or who were in the vicinity of the shooting, they mostly did not have specific targets or hit those whom they might have been targeting. Their grievances were more diffuse, and their shooting more indiscriminate. An important finding of the committee is that events of this kind did not seem to have occurred in the inner-city schools. TESTING THE PLAUSIBILITY OF VARIOUS EXPLANATIONS OF VIOLENCE The Role of Economic and Social Structure A well-established tradition in sociology and criminology is to begin the search for the causes of violence in the structural characteristics of society. The idea is that violence occurs among those in social positions who are disadvantaged relative to others in society, or who are excluded and alienated from the dominant culture, or who are victims of oppression and injustice. This tradition is reflected in the inner-city cases. The case writers locate the violence exactly where this view would expect to find it—in communities that have been socially, economically, and politically marginalized. It is hard not to draw the conclusion that these factors played an important role in causing the violence observed. What is startling, however, is that some portion of the lethal violence observed happens not in economically marginalized communities, but in ones that are relatively well off economically, socially, and politically. Paducah is not a thriving community; it has its pockets of poverty. But the other three suburban or rural communities studied were relatively affluent, and homogeneously so. Jonesboro, Edinboro, and Rockdale County were all thriving, affluent areas in which few were left behind. It would be hard to attribute the shootings in these areas to economic or social disadvantage. The role of economic and social status cannot be wholly excluded. In one of the suburban cases, the social position of the shooter was relatively low in his community, which may suggest to some that class did play an important role in shaping the character and motivations of a future offender. And there are plenty of reasons to think that great tensions lurk beneath the surface of the apparently successful communities, that great gulfs divide adults from youth in these places, and that the places themselves are a bit unstable due to recent economic growth. An important similarity across the urban and rural and suburban environments was the presence of rapid social change in five of the six communities, which can produce instability even when the changes are positive ones.

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence The Role of Culture A second idea with widespread currency is that lethal school violence is caused by a societal and popular culture that tolerates, encourages, or even demands violence. There are different versions of this argument. In one version, a claim is made that inner-city violence seeped into pop culture, embodied in the mass media, and tended to glorify and encourage violence. The focus of the mass media on violence is seen not only as a reflection of a general enthusiasm for violence, but also as an influence that barrages American society with graphic images of violence. The important role of the mass media is thought to be particularly attractive and dangerous to youth who can spend hours viewing TV, listening to music with violent lyrics, and playing video games that feature violence. It is hard to exclude this hypothesis on the basis of the evidence. All the incidents occurred against the backdrop of a popular culture that seems to tolerate if not encourage violence. However, it should be noted that the offenders in the cases did not seem to be more obsessed with these materials than the millions of kids who did not go on a shooting spree. A second version of a claim about cultural influences emphasizes the gap between adult culture and youth culture. The argument is that if adults are not much present in the lives of youth, they will not be able to guide them toward such adult values as self-reliance, self-discipline, civility, mutual respect, patience, generosity, and empathy toward others. Without adult influence, youth culture might turn out to be particularly vulnerable to dangerous influences from the media or from peers. One extreme version of this is the emergence of a gang culture in which youth gangs perform the protecting, explaining, and socializing roles that would ordinarily be performed by families. From the outset of our work, the committee was much attracted to this hypothesis. The inner-city cases were profoundly influenced not only by the general culture of violence in their neighborhoods, but also more particularly by youth gangs whose interactions created an important part of the social circumstances that animated and authorized the shootings—at least in the minds of the boys who fired the weapons. The suburban and rural cases also showed strong evidence that the world of youth was not very well understood by adults, especially youth who were forming their own culture supporting some forms of antisocial behavior. In Rockdale County, a syphilis outbreak among teens caused by widespread sexual promiscuity of a particular group of kids who gathered at an unmonitored house to watch pornography on TV and imitate the acts

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence they saw offered strong evidence of the absence of adult and parental guidance. In Paducah as well, the case writer observed that the “social dynamics of adolescence were almost entirely hidden from adult view.” So there is in these cases a gap between the adult and the youth culture. Communication did not flow easily across these boundaries. The adults at school did not seem to know the kids very well, or to be much present in their lives other than as administrators and teachers. These adolescents did lots of things that the adults in the communities would view as dangerous. We can also see that this gap matters, because it allows gangs, cliques, and rivalries to grow, and it lets festering disputes and grievances go unnoticed and unresolved. When information became available that should alert adults to the likelihood of a fight or an assault by one youth against another, the information often did not cross the boundary that divides adults and officials from the adolescents. It is unclear whether the gap between adults and youth in these particular communities exists in other communities that have not experienced these tragedies. In our cases, this gap was evident in both the poor inner-city neighborhoods and the more well-to-do suburban sites—both in terms of the quality and intensity of their engagement and in terms of the substantive values they embraced. The committee discussed ways of closing this gap. But it is important to recognize that this gap can never be fully closed and probably should not be. Successful human development, and the development of society as a whole, depend on new generations being able to separate themselves to some degree from their parents and the traditions they embody. A third version of a cultural explanation for lethal violence in schools and school rampages focuses on the pervasive presence of guns in the United States. It was not difficult for the shooters to obtain weapons, getting them from friends or stealing them, unnoticed, from family members or neighbors. And many of the shooters had some experience with guns. Three of them had gone hunting or shooting with an adult prior to the time of the shooting. At least one other had practiced shooting by himself and so had some experience with how to use the weapon. Again, it seems obvious that easy access to guns facilitated the lethal school violence and school rampages. In sum, we cannot rule out the big cultural explanations: the distinctive American tradition of violence, the impact of the mass media, the gap between adult and youth culture, and the role of guns in U.S. society. But for purposes of scientific explanation, the potential impact of smaller, faster-moving aspects of culture and their carriers are also of interest: the special role of violent rap music and video games, the role of gangs in spreading a culture of violence among kids, and the impact of the press coverage given to the rural and suburban shootings themselves. These

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence things are a possible link between the inner-city violence and the rural and suburban violence. The Role of the School The fact that the violence took place in schools tends to magnify its importance and social consequences. Because people expect schools to be safe havens for adolescents, when violence happens in them, the consequences are particularly severe. Another important implication is that the schools can be seen as a platform for launching interventions to prevent and control violence. Finding ways to engage schools in efforts to accomplish this goal would seem to be an urgent task. A third implication is that conditions inside the school may be a potential cause of the violence. In one version of this idea, one could see the failure of the schools to put in place preventive measures as an important cause of the lethal violence and school rampages—an error of omission rather than commission. Or one could see the schools themselves as “criminogenic”—the social relationships and norms existing within the schools might have actually caused the violence to occur. A fourth implication is that the school, as the largest and most common social setting for adolescents, is the most likely setting for interpersonal violence among them. And because it is the most common social setting, it also serves as the primary public arena for acting out. In most of the rural and suburban cases examined, the school served not only as a convenient place to commit violence, but also as a public stage on which to perform and to be seen. In considering these hypotheses in light of the cases, the committee sees evidence for the first claim—that the location in school makes the social consequences of the violence worse, regardless of where the school is located. There is also evidence that the school was considered an important place to launch efforts to prevent future incidents—not only in the places that experienced the violence, but also in communities across the country. It is much harder to determine whether the schools were an important cause of the violence—through either omissions or commissions. The schools successfully constructed a protective boundary that separates them to some degree from conditions in the community; generally speaking, kids are safer in schools than in other locations. The difficulty is that the boundary is not impermeable. The violence of inner-city communities can reach into the schools, and the impulses associated with rampage shootings like those we have seen in workplaces can come into schools as well. In hindsight, it seems that there might have been some things that

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence the schools could have done to prevent and deal more effectively with the violence when it occurred. While evidence is scarce that the schools somehow generated the violence as a consequence of the way they were structured and administered, the sense of community between youth and adults in these schools, which research has shown is protective against crime, was lacking. In the worst example, the school allowed a school newspaper to print an article that humiliated one of the students who became a shooter. The adults involved may have been too distant from the students to prevent some social processes leading to the potential for violence or resulting in an intolerable humiliation for some particularly vulnerable youth. In order to prevent violence from occurring, the adult culture and the school’s administration and faculty may have to find ways to successfully engage the youth culture, to make every student feel valued, and to keep the youth culture in the school from becoming lethally dangerous. In hindsight, the schools in the cases may have been insufficiently preventive. But they do not seem to have been criminogenic in themselves. Characteristics of the Offenders Another tradition in criminology focuses attention on the more or less stable individual characteristics that make some individuals more likely to offend than others. In these respects, there may be important differences between the cases of violence in the inner city and the rural and suburban areas. Many social pressures—large and small, durable and transient—led toward the incidents of lethal violence observed in the inner-city schools. In the suburban and rural schools, the social pressures leading to violence seem much less visible. This may leave more to be explained by individual-level factors. The shooters had some characteristics that, based on evidence from research, would place them at high risk for serious offending: being male, having mental health and, in one case, substance abuse problems, and having previous minor behavior problems. Most had recently begun hanging out with delinquent or more troubled friends and had a recent drop in their grades at school. All had easy access to guns (see Farrington and Loeber, 1999). Of special note is how young all the shooters were. None was older than 15, and the youngest was 11. At least two important aspects of this age period have implications for what occurred. First, it is during early adolescence when peer relations and finding one’s place in the social order of the school become most important. Second, during this period, cognitive abilities, including perspective taking, are developing. Young

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence adolescents’ ability to make accurate judgments, especially about social relationships, may be lacking. Most of the shooters did not have either records or reputations that would link them to violent crime, but there are some important differences between the inner-city and the suburban and rural incidents. Two of the three offenders in the inner-city cases had previous arrests for serious crimes and were known to the police. One of the inner-city shooters and all of the suburban shooters had no previous arrests for serious crimes and were largely unknown to the police. However, we cannot conclude from these facts that the underlying level and seriousness of criminal offending was different in the inner city and the suburban cases, or that the inner-city kids had more experience in committing crimes than the rural and suburban kids. One had committed an undetected felony-level theft, one had stolen and sold his father’s gun, and one had molested a two-year-old child. We can say, however, that the urban teens were more likely to have previous records of offending than the suburban kids, who essentially had none. The shooters’ records of school performance were similar for five of the boys. In the two inner-city cases, the offenders had good records until 8th grade, when their performance began to slip; that shift was attributed either to the fact that receiving good grades was seen as a sign of weakness or that the offender became involved with a gang culture. In the committee’s view, this shows the influence of local subcultures in the schools that were powerful influences on young, impressionable adolescents beginning their high school careers and their developing hostility to “good” performance. In the rural and suburban cases, two of the offenders struggled in school. For the others, their grades ranged from average to good until around 8th grade. Disciplinary records in school were similarly varied. At least one of the inner-city offenders and two of the suburban offenders had disciplinary records; the others didn’t. The offenders could not be said to be notorious “bad actors” in their schools. They seemed to be adolescents struggling to make their way academically and socially in the competitive environment of gangs and cliques that characterize most junior and senior high schools. In considering the causes of these offenses and potential points of intervention, a crucially important question is the extent to which the shooters can be considered mentally ill. For events that seem largely unaccountable (as in the suburban cases), and when there are no apparent powerful social factors shaping conduct (as in the suburban/rural cases), it is tempting to seek the explanation not just in individual characteristics, but in mental illness. Such an analytic move should be suspect, even though it may seem objective and logical. One reason is that such diag

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence Variable NY—Jason NY—Khalil Chicago 4.3 School record of offender: 4.3.1 Academic achievement Good grades until 7th grade for both boys, then no. Getting good grades seen as sign of weakness at T.J. High Good grades until 8th grade, then slipped, cut class a lot 4.3.2 Disciplinary record at school Not included in cases studies Suspended for gambling in bathroom 4.3.3 Changes in school status Grades slumped after 8th grade Grades slumped after 8th grade 4.4 Mental illness of offender: 4.4.1 Formal diagnosis prior to event No No, but believed to have emotional problems No 4.4.2 Formal diagnosis after event No Yes: defense diagnosis was mental illness relating to stress and trauma from living in East New York; prosecutor claimed antisocial personality No 4.4.3 Suicide attempt during incident No No No 4.4.4 Previous suicide attempt/threat No No No 4.4.5 Suicide attempt after incident No No No 4.4.6 Psychological counseling prior to incident No Yes No 4.4.7 Recent changes in mood No Fearful Fearful 4.5 Family background of offender: 4.5.1 Family structure Intact two-parent family, siblings Divorced parents, sister withdrew from family Intact two-parent family

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence Paducah Jonesboro Edinboro Rockdale County   Grades slumped in 8th grade, then improved freshman year. IQ of 120 Mitchell: As and Bs, Andrew: average student who needed extra help in elementary school Andrew struggled with grades which got steadily worse until he had mostly D’s and F’s Trouble with grades after age 8 Five disciplinary infractions for minor behavior problems Mitchell: three in-school suspensions Andrew: nothing out of the ordinary None None Grades slumped in 8th grade then improved No for both cases Grades slumped in 8th grade Grades slumped in months previous to attack   No None that we know of No Yes: attention deficit disorder, took Ritalin Yes: diagnosed with “dysthymia and schizotypal personality disorder” and “dysthymia and traits of schizotypal personality disorder with borderline and paranoid features” by defense psychiatrist Currently has schizophrenia No conclusive evidence for either boy Yes: preschizophrenic ideation diagnosed by defense psychiatrist Yes: clinical depression, defense characterized as major depressive disorder with psychotic features, prosecution as mild dysthymia. Possibly: reportedly asked another student to kill him No No Yes: immediately after the incident Suicidal thoughts but no attempt Andrew may have threatened self in the months prior to the shooting. Suicidal thinking and threats. Left suicide note Suicidal thinking and threat Yes, several No Unknown Yes, almost died in prison Yes Mitchell: yes No Yes Not clear, but depression may have magnified fears and insecurities and affected judgment No, but both reported to be angry. One teacher thought Mitchell became withdrawn before shooting. Evidence of depressed mood Increasing social withdrawal   Intact two-parent family, sister Mitchell: divorced parents, mother remarried, little contact with father, one brother and two half-sisters Intact two-parent family, but conflict between parents; two brothers; two stepbrothers from previous marriage of Parents divorced, mother remarried, no contact with dad. T.J. close to stepfather; sister, and older stepbrother

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence Variable NY—Jason NY—Khalil Chicago   4.5.2 History of family violence No No No 4.5.3 History of abuse and neglect No Possible No 4.5.6 Recent changes in family relations No Yes: sister withdrew from family No 4.6 Status of perpetrators in school/community: 4.6.1 Social standing in community Marginal group member, had friends Marginal group member, had friends Marginal group member, had friends 4.6.2 Member of youth gang No No Yes 4.6.3 Interest in violence media Don’t know Don’t know Don’t know 4.6.4 Involvement in gun culture Guns part of daily life Guns part of daily life Don’t know 4.6.5 Victim of bullying Yes Yes Don’t know 4.6.6 Bullying others No No No 4.6.7 Recent changes in peer relations Yes Yes Yes 4.6.8 Recent peer rejection No No No 5.0 Preparatory Actions of Perpetrators 5.1 Evidence of planning Carried gun but otherwise no Got gun from friend to defend himself from previous threats Got gun from friend, loaded and test-fired the gun the night before

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence Paducah Jonesboro Edinboro Rockdale County   Andrew: intact wellestablished family, two half-siblings lived elsewhere most of the time father, but not part of Andrew’s life   No Mitchell’s dad had explosive temper No No No Mitchell: possibly emotional by father, molested by neighbor. No evidence of abuse for Andrew No No No Mitchell’s father threatened he might have to live with him. Recent family conflict No   Marginal member of many groups, had friends but difficulty forming friendships with others and socially insecure in relationships, active in school band, class clown Mitchell: had conventional friends, close to brother, involved in school and community activities, sports, and choir Andrew: had friends but not popular, played trumpet, class clown Conventional friends (small group of long-time friends that included boys and girls) but began hanging out with more troubled group Loner by middle school—increasingly passive and withdrawn, did not join groups or play sports No Mitchell: wannabee (Westside Bloods) No No Yes Mitchell: yes Andrew: yes Yes Yes No Mitchell: limited use of guns Andrew: yes No Yes: one of his most important sources of social identity Yes Mitchell: yes Andrew: probably No No Yes, but was not physically imposing Mitchell: yes Andrew: yes Yes No Yes: trying to impress Goths Yes Yes: started hanging out with kids with behavior problems Yes: began hanging with kids considered to be “fringe” but mostly a loner Yes: had recently dumped girlfriend in favor of other girl who did not return his attentions. Mitchell: had just lost a girlfriend Yes: had recently lost a girlfriend, was rejected by another girl he asked to the dance No   Yes: elaborate planning but not clear if alone or with others Yes: elaborate planning Planning involved but not clear if alone or with others Yes

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence Variable NY—Jason NY—Khalil Chicago 5.2 Source of weapons Carried a gun Friend Bought from neighborhood boy 5.3 Threats/warning No Responded to threat Responded to threat 5.3.2 Warnings to adults No   Not really, but mother knew he had to defend himself but not that he had a gun 5.4 Reason for particular place and day: 5.4.1 Reaction to immediate events Yes No No 5.4.2 Preventive response to threat Yes Yes Yes and no 5.4.3 Proactive No No A little 6.0 Community Response 6.1 Impact of media coverage on community: 6.1.1 Accuracy of media coverage Slight inaccuracies at first but quickly corrected and followed by high-quality investigation Not accurate 6.1.2 Impact of media on community deliberation and welfare Not discussed   Case decided in press before trial: jury pool tainted, no room for plea bargain 6.2 Community interpretation/understanding of events: 6.2.1 Community forums: existence, nature, impact Antiviolence marches and rallies attended by celebrities, diverse community organizing under the auspices of Centers for Disease Control and the New York City Health Department to educate the community about violence, retreat for students in Catskills with local politician Antiviolence rallies and a new Rites of Passage program for the students and teachers to teach antiviolence and leadership skills, leadership from principals, and the local school councils

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence Paducah Jonesboro Edinboro Rockdale County Stolen from neighbor Stolen from father and grandparents Stolen from father Stolen from parents Hinted something big would happen the week before Gave many hints, said something big was going to happen tomorrow Gave many hints that no one took seriously Only a few oblique remarks to peers in weeks before shooting No Adults at school told of Andrew’s threats by at least one student and student’s father Teacher knew of “will” given to another student, teacher reported threatening conversation between Andrew and another student to school administrator No   No No No No No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes     Not accurate in the residents’ views, and in many instances our own Mixed: local media generally more accurate Not accurate Not accurate Community united against presence of media, media too aggressive, interviewed students without parent’s consent Community hates national media, media too aggressive as in Paducah Community considered media presence to be intrusive Community despises media as too aggressive, distorting their area, making it difficult to move forward   No community forums but more school professional days were added to identify students with serious problems, school counselor added to help freshmen transition to high school, outside therapist visits to school one day per week to talk with students Jonesboro Ministerial Alliance formed (religion-based) to resolve community problems, no evidence it played any role, teacher debriefing held the day after shooting to discuss how to deal with students, additional social workers and full-time counselors added, federal assistance and help from National Organization for Victims of Crime (NOVA) sought Town government launched no major initiatives. Series of meetings over the summer with community members to develop recommendations for the schools mostly focused on security, character education program developed for students, more training in conflict resolution instituted for teachers, Christian group sponsored youth center Community-wide invitational meetings, church meetings, invited youth from Littleton to a retreat, school system increased number of psychologists and social workers in the system, introduced parent education program, held series of meetings to discuss school security needs, and made changes in behavior and dress codes

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence Variable NY—Jason NY—Khalil Chicago 6.2.2 Engagement of political representatives Councilwoman Wooten developed year-long retreat program, Mayor Dinkins called for an antiviolence movement, Chancellor Fernandez established 40 new smaller schools Mayor Daly used incident to get metal detectors installed system-wide, local school council’s representatives engaged in public debate over security measures 6.2.3 Community understanding of event Violent atmosphere, gulf in communication between kids and adults Gangs, gulf in communication between kids and adults 6.2.4 Grief counseling Yes Yes 6.2.5 Impact on community climate More attention to community violence and danger More attention to gang problem 6.3 Criminal justice response: 6.3.1 Charges filed 2nd degree murder 1st degree manslaughter 1st degree murder 6.3.2 Prosecuted as juvenile or adult Adult Adult Adult 6.3.3 Defense offered Plea to lesser charge of 1st degree manslaughter Acting under influence of extreme emotional distress Act of self-defense 6.3.4 Disposition/ sentence 3–9 years in prison, part in youth part in adult facility 6 2/3 to 20 years in prison, served 5 years 45 years in Illinois State Prison

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence Paducah Jonesboro Edinboro Rockdale County Political representatives were not engaged, mostly by choice of the school No information Town government launched no initiatives Participation in community meetings described above, judge ordered tough laws posted in schools Freak, inexplicable event, could not be predicted or explained Generally cannot understand why this happened but when pressed cite several factors including lack of communication between kids and adults, decline in religiosity, media influence, availability of guns Troubled kid from troubled family happened to live there Mental illness and family problems Yes Yes Yes Yes Potential negative impact on community’s ability to attract high-quality professionals to jobs, many students and teachers still in treatment, civil suits unresolved Community angry about sentences for boys, some felt there is better cohesion in the community, shooting no longer widely discussed, civil suits unresolved Community felt this could have happened anywhere—troubled boy, many people blamed parents, general sense that community is ready to move on Sense of shame among some young people to say where they are from, but relates as much to syphilis outbreak as shooting. Community did not feel different from any other community   3 counts of murder, counts attempted murder, 1 count burglary 5 Delinquency was actual charge, but based on 5 counts capital murder and 10 counts first degree battery for each boy Criminal homicide/1st degree murder 18 counts of aggravated assault, six counts of cruelty to children, and 5 counts of illegal possession and use of firearms Adult Juvenile Adult Adult Pleaded guilty but mentally ill under an Alford plea Mitchell: pleaded guilty Andrew: pleaded not guilty, judge ruled that in juvenile proceeding insanity and incompetency defense could not be raised Pleaded guilty to 3rd degree murder Pleaded guilty but mentally ill to above charges Life without parole for 25 years Indeterminate sentence to age 21 for both boys 30–60 years in prison, eligible for parole at age 45 Sentenced to 60 years of custody including 40 years of probation

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence Variable NY—Jason NY—Khalil Chicago   6.4 Civil litigation None None Civil suit against the school board by one of the victims’ parents 6.5 School security responses: 6.5.1 School security: hardware Metal detectors installed Metal detectors installed system wide 6.5.2 Efforts made to strengthen relationships in school Yes: through retreats and violence education programs Yes: through Rites of Passage program, zero tolerance policy instituted 6.5.3 Other security Daily police patrols inside and outside school, supplemental programs dealing with violence prevention and crime at 40 schools, additional after-school programs proposed, replace very large schools like T.J. High with 50 smaller schools Hired community security volunteers, instituted zero tolerance policy including suspensions, for some offenses and automatic police referrals for a variety of offenses from serious assault to minor drug violations

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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence Paducah Jonesboro Edinboro Rockdale County   supervision. Eligible for parole after 18 years Victims’ families filed suits against Carneals, neighbor from whom gun was stolen, students who knew or may have been involved, teachers and principals of Heath High and Middle schools, producers of Basketball Diaries, makers of point and shoot video games, porn Internet sites offender visited Civil suits brought by victims’ families against shooters and their parents, Andrew’s grandfather, and gun manufacturers for failure to install trigger locks Civil suit by teacher’s widow against Wurst family 3 of 6 victims filed civil suits against offender and his parents   Fences built around school, identification tags required Wooden slat fence built around school Use of metal detector wands failed but metal detectors used for prom, restricted building access, name badges for staff School added additional surveillance cameras Extended freshman orientation period, teachers search student bags in morning, more professional days for teachers to identify problem students, part-time guidance counselor and therapist added to staff Adult monitors on school buses, increased attention to isolated or troubled kids, therapist added, more teacher training, school resource officer added More teacher training in conflict resolution, new character education program, but most changes security oriented Increased number of psychologists and social workers, introduced a new parent education program Hired school resource officers (police) to interact with students and maintain security Instituted common sense zero tolerance policy, hired school resource officers (police) to maintain safety and security and educate students about them None New dress code, strict weapons in school policy involving automatic referrals to police and harsh sentences

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