The environmental similarity across most of the cases is the presence of rapid social change leading to possible instability, even when the changes are positive ones. While many parents successfully supervise their children in these kinds of situations, it is clear, in both the urban and rural and suburban cases, that parents had a poor understanding of their children’s exposure to changing community conditions and involvement in social situations, including at school. It is important to the development of prevention efforts to have a better understanding of social and structural features of communities where shooting rampages have taken place, and of parental supervision of children’s activities in all communities where school shootings occur.
The committee recommends that research be conducted on the effects of rapid change in increasingly affluent rural and suburban communities on youth development, socialization, and violence. Such research should include the effects of new industries, such as manufacturing and service industries, and accompanying jobs on the community and its long-term residents; the effects of an influx of many new residents on social class structure, organizations, and institutions, including schools; changes in zoning or differences in the quality of housing, playgrounds, or schools in neighborhoods; and the presence or absence of community conflict among different economic and social groups and whether such conflicts affect youth behavior. In addition, the committee recommends that research be conducted on parental styles of supervision for youth in grades 6–10 when parents are at work or when their children are away from home. To the extent that parents rely on the schools to supervise youth in this age group, it also is important to better understand the effectiveness of various supervisory roles and styles of teachers and other adults, such as administrators, counselors, volunteers, and security personnel.
The shooters in the cases were arrested almost immediately after the shootings without further incident, and the police were able to respond in an appropriate and timely manner. In no instance did the police have previous warning of the shooting. This is in contrast to the circumstances of other school rampages. In the Columbine incident, which involved two older teenage offenders and much more elaborate planning, there was far more confusion about what was taking place and why, once the police arrived on the scene. And there was some evidence that reports to police about threats to a student, including threats posted on a web site, had been ignored. In addition, over the past two years there has been some experience with preventing planned attacks when there is informa