then these trends should be revealed in the aggregate statistics on lethal violence in schools. However, because detailed case studies have not been developed for all the instances of lethal school violence, for most of them we remain uncertain both about the motivations of the offenders and the relationships that existed between them and their victims. All we can see is the gross pattern of victimization in the attacks: the number of individuals who were killed and injured and the most superficial account of the characteristics of victims that might give us a clue about their relationship to the offender. It is quite possible that, while rampage shootings showed up in suburban and rural schools that had not experienced much if any “inner-city style” violence, there was some portion of rampage “suburban-rural style” violence that added to the burdens of inner-city schools that were already struggling with violence.
Lethal violence in any school is rare, but nonlethal violent crime in schools is much more common. The occurrence of frequent bullying is a very serious problem among students in grades 6–10. Such bullying, which can range from physical assaults to verbal harassment and threats, has been shown to have lifelong social and psychological consequences for victims. Moreover, despite attempts to control it, some of the most serious behavior takes place below the radar screen of responsible adults.
The committee recommends that research be conducted on the nature and causes of school violence, including seriousness of behavior, motivation of perpetrators, and the role of recognized gangs, crews, and cliques or informal social groups inside and outside the school in both crime and other antisocial behavior, such as serious bullying. The consequences of both lethal and nonlethal school violence for students and adults not directly victimized is also an important area of inquiry.
Virtually every case of lethal school violence that has occurred since 1992 has involved the use of a firearm. In our review of these cases and other research on lethal youth violence, the committee found that illegal gun carrying by youth crosses racial and class boundaries, and that a substantial number of boys—particularly those becoming involved with gangs—illegally carry firearms, at least sometimes, at young ages. In the cases studied in this report, the boys carried guns to school for protection or to enhance their status among their peers. Few youth carry a firearm all or most of the time over a long period, and most who carry one for protection stop when there is no longer a threat.