other kids were, and the subcultures one sees in the communities in which the rampages occurred were very different from the adolescent subcultures of the inner cities at the height of the crack epidemic.
Research on youth violence also points to the importance of “social information processing deficits” among adolescents (as summarized by Gottfredson, 2001). Impulsiveness and self-control are linked with problem behavior through cognitive processes. Antisocial adolescents tend to misinterpret social cues. They attribute hostile intentions to peers when none may exist. They have difficulty evaluating the likely consequences of their actions and considering alternatives. They also have trouble regulating behaviors in communication, including using appropriate eye contact and tone of voice. Several studies have linked these cognitive and behavioral deficits with peer rejection (e.g., Dodge et al., 1986; McFall, 1982; Perry et al., 1986).
Finally, contagion mechanisms may have played a role in producing the unexpected dynamics of the inner-city violence, and these mechanisms may have played a role as well in spreading the inner-city violence to the suburban and rural areas, or in producing the spate of school rampages independently of the inner-city violence. The important focus here could be imitative behaviors spread through an interested and open youth subculture by the media. It may be that the school rampage shooters took their inspiration from the youth violence of the inner city. Or it could be that one school rampage shooter took his inspiration from an earlier school rampage shooting with little connection to inner-city violence.
Many of the youth school shooters were reported to experience bullying. Bullying is not particular to schools; it also goes on outside schools and, like other forms of victimization, is imported. Although there is no universal definition of bullying, there is widespread agreement that it includes several key elements: physical, verbal, or psychological attack or intimidation intended to cause fear, distress, or harm to the victim; an imbalance of power, with the more powerful child oppressing the less powerful one; absence of provocation by the victim; and repeated incidents between the same children over a prolonged period (Farrington, 1993).
Bullying is surprisingly common. In his review of the research, Farrington (1993) suggests that over half of children have been victimized and over half have been bullies. Data from the National Crime Victimization Survey suggest that the prevalence of bullying is lower than what Farrington reports, but it still represents a large problem. In 1999, the percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied at school