U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Understanding the Causes of School Violence Using Open Source Data

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $699,629)

The Statement of the Problem: This proposal responds to the RFP's Category Two area and seeks to provide evidence based understanding on etiological issues related to school shootings and rampage shootings. Research on the individual, institutional, and community level causes of school violence has been hindered by a lack of reliable data and comparison groups. We will apply two major criminology theories to further understanding of the causes of school violence. First. Sampson and Laub's developmental social control perspective includes an extensive set of constructs designed to measure patterns over the course of individuals' lives and assess the impacts of precursor, enduring and contemporaneous factors. Second, rational choice and situational crime prevention highlight individual decision making and criminal opportunities that vary across situations. Schools are controlled environments and research has found that they are thus better positioned to successfully implement SCP strategies. We will create the first of its kind national, open-source database that includes all publicly known shootings that resulted in at least one injury that occurred on K-12 school grounds since 1990. We will use these data to take advantage of these two theories· insights to accomplish three objectives: 1. Document the nature of the problem and clarify the types of shooting incidents occurring in schools; 2. Provide a comprehensive understanding of the perpetrators of school shootings and test causal factors to assess if mass and non-mass school shootings are comparable; 3. Compare fatal shooting incidents to events where only injuries resulted to identify intervention points that could be exploited to reduce the harm caused by shootings. To accomplish these objectives we will use quantitative multivariate and qualitative case studies research methods to document where and when school violence occurs, and highlight key incident and perpetrator level characteristics to help law enforcement and school administrators differentiate between the kinds of school shootings that exist, to further policy responses that are appropriate for individuals and communities. The almost complete absence of empirical data on perpetrators and incidents of these attacks will be remedied by the production and analysis of data on both the risk factors and process variables of school shootings. This comprehensive study, conducted by a seasoned research team will generate multiple journal articles, monographs, and training manuals for law enforcement and school officials. Key findings will be disseminated at practitioner and scholarly conferences across the US. All data will also be prepared for archiving through ICPSR and NACJD. ca/ncf

Date Created: September 14, 2016