. "2. The Copycat Factor: Mental Illness, Guns, and the Shooting Incident at Heritage High School, Rockdale County, Georgia." Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003.
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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence
and in the cafeteria at lunch, the black students congregated in one area, the rednecks in another, the preps another, and so on.
Similarly, there were also descriptions of various groups gathering in different and predictable places outside the school. After school and on weekends, different groups would gather in the parking lots of retail stores, such as Kroger or TJ Maxx. The rednecks, for example, were said to hang out in the Kroger parking lot, while black youth had begun to congregate in the parking lot in front of Wal-Mart. Other focal points of youth activity were the local bowling alley, movie theatres, and church facilities. During football season, Friday night home games are attended by most of the student body and serve as a focal gathering point for the entire community.
As is true in many communities, some Rockdale County youth experiment with sex, alcohol, and drugs, albeit at varying levels. In focus group discussions, several area youth estimated that anywhere from 85 to 90 percent of kids in Rockdale County have used alcohol. Estimates of marijuana use ranged from 60 to 75 percent of area teens. They also reported high levels of sexual activity, estimating that 50 to 60 percent of area adolescents are sexually active. Several reported that they knew one or more teenage girls in the community who have babies.
In terms of intergroup relations, several area teens reported that in general, interactions between peer groups tended to be amicable, with no discernable rivalries at the group level. While this was the case for the majority of peer groups, there were some exceptions. For instance, more than one source identified tension between the rednecks and the straight edge mafia. Knowing the contempt the straight edge mafia had for meat, rednecks were reported to occasionally leave the corpse of a dead deer on the front lawn of one of their member’s houses. Another reported group conflict was between some rednecks and black youths.
In contrast to the general lack of group conflict, there were many reports of fights between individuals, over the usual issues of status, respect, and reputation. Very few of these disputes involved the discharge of firearms, but most of the youths we interviewed knew of incidents in which guns were brandished. Some had seen such events. A few could recount a dozen or more instances, others knew of four or five. One stated that he had someone pull a gun on him.
Still others indicated that displaying guns during confrontations is very common. A couple of the focus group participants stated that, when they see a fight, they expect to see a gun pulled. Another diverged slightly from this, saying that he expected to see a gun only when certain people are involved in the fight, indicating that some are more likely to use firearms than others. While it is hard to pin down an estimate of how often these incidents occur, it is clear that guns are