School shootings as a multi-faceted phenomenon: Social-ecological model-based review


  • Xenia J. Kozlov Changing Children’s Worlds Foundation


Ключевые слова:

social-ecological model, school shooting, mass murder, rampage, school violence, gun culture, gender, parenting


School shooting is one of the most difficult challenges for the modern society. Several seemingly irrelevant components — social well-being of the family, a safe community, a relatively non-troublesome child, a well-protected school building, no apparent motivation — are intertwined within each bloody massacre, but the signs of an upcoming rampage are yet to be identified. According to FBI statistics, active shooters, including school shooters, usually do not stand out from the majority; only a quarter of them have mental issues, in most cases the weapon was obtained legally, the time gap between the trigger event and the rampage is about a year, friends, family, and social services usually do not observe enough warning signs to report, and even in case they do, the situational check brings nothing (Silver, Simons, Craun 2018). Difficulties in identifying possible shooters are explained by the complexity and ambivalence of the prerequisites and their interactions. These include violence in the environment, observed hate, prejudice, or humiliating attitudes towards particular social groups, fierce competition, physical form and appearance issues, approval of weapons within the society, public attention to previous school shooters, school environment, and parenting issues. However, any of those factors may be present in people and groups who had never planned and would never plan a crime.

School shootings prediction and prevention are impossible without identifying the intersections of the most indicative risk factors and studying every intersection within its unique context.

The article aims to identify the most common factors contributing to the school shooting phenomenon using the social-ecological model framework. Within four levels examined by the social-ecological model — societal, community, relationship, and individual — the most significant factors are highlighted.

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