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Dr. Gordon Crews interviews with IGI Global to discuss latest research surrounding school shootings.

Research Shows There Are Four Types of School Shooters

By IGI Global on May 24, 2018
On February 14, 2018, 17 students and staff members were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, USA. An additional 17 people were injured by the same shooter that day.

While most people would agree that incidents like this are horrifying, most are no longer surprised by them, which showcases that this has become a national problem. Dr. Gordon A. Crews, Chair and Professor of Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley and an IGI Global editor and contributing author to the best-selling publication, Critical Examinations of School Violence and Disturbance in K-12 Education, is trailblazing the way to understanding the root of the violence that has been continually occurring in schools across the nation.

Through his quest for answers, he interviewed and surveyed 36 incarcerated individuals who committed an act of violence at an American K-12 school over the past 32 year and found that 95% of them were male, over 50% were white, 47% were between the ages of 15 and 17, and 57% of the offenders were not taking medication for mental health issues (the study was conducted in 2012-2013).

These facts go against the norm for what is being reported most commonly in the news. You often hear violent acts committed by someone of a different race, or someone with mental health issues. Dr. Crews’s findings open the discussion surrounding his book to include often-overlooked characteristics.

Additionally, Dr. Crews was able to identify and classify four types of school violence perpetrators including:

  • Traditional – current students
  • Gang-related – involved in the gang lifestyle
  • Associated – older people who targeted schools with which they had past involvement
  • Non-associated – no current or prior affiliation to school.

42 out of the 78 participants ( the original study size) were considered traditional school shooters, making them the largest group. In all cases except 5, some type of gun was used. The other five perpetrators used a baseball bat, knife, vehicle, propane tank, or a machete.

Unfortunately, a significant number of the interviewed participants felt a sense of relief that they would be more appreciated or respected, indicating that they felt little to no remorse or shame for their violent acts. Many also reported that their main concern after the incident was that they did not achieve their goals.

One such individual, who attacked 11 kindergarteners, 2 teachers, and the principal of an elementary school with a machete, felt no regret at all:

“I am 67, 55 when I got my wee bit o’ revenge… I was prepared for my act in that I stopped twice in [redacted location] and [redacted location] to sharpen my machete on my way to that school. I also hope to be remembered in [redacted location] county forever! No mental illness here – just bored and one of the angriest persons on earth!!”

But what does all of this mean? What is the common underlying factor between these perpetrators of school violence?

There are two aspects that affect every offender: all 78 of the study sample suffered either physical, sexual, or mental abuse, and all 78 had easy access to a weapon. Only two people used a weapon that was not a gun. And some might argue that therein lies the problem.

Since 2012, when a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there have been at least 239 school shootings nationwide, as of February 15 of this year. People are arguing that it's harder to get a driver's license than buy a gun, and they're starting to protest.

On March 24, 2018, the students that survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Florida, USA organized a march in Washington, D.C., with over 800 sibling events across the nation, to protest current gun control legislation, something that affected all of them on February 14, 2018.

One could argue that this is a group of students doing what they can to help reduce this type of violence while others argue that demonstrations like these are helping nothing.

Dr. Crews simply hopes that his work can “contribute to future attempts to deal positively, fairly, and effectively with school violence in American K–12 schools.”

Read Dr. Crews’s publication, Critical Examinations of School Violence and Disturbance in K-12 Education and see the statistics for yourself; make your own decision and opinion. Many consider this 15-chapter book a must-read for parents, teachers, school administrators, law enforcement, government agencies, and students themselves when researching what it takes to keep children in school safe.

For more information on this topic, please view the publications and recommend them to your library:


All of the indexed publications listed above are available on IGI Global’s InfoSci©-Books database, a collection of more than 4,000+ books spanning 11 core subjects. This database contains edited and authored reference books, Handbooks of Research, major reference works, Case Studies and more that have been indexed by prestigious indices (i.e. Web of Science, Scopus, ERIC, and PsycINFO) and contributed by world-renowned scholars, making it an ideal resource for academic and research users.

Recently, IGI Global unveiled new pricing for this database.For a one-time perpetual purchase for 2018 © (505 e-books), new customers can purchase this database for as low as: US$ 16,500 (average cost per book: US$ 33). Be sure to recommend this database to your institution or for librarians, purchase this database directly from IGI Global’s Online Bookstore.
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