February 25, 2023

3 ways to prevent school shootings, based on research

Much of the public discussion on preventing school shootings is about whether and how to limit people’s access to firearms. But other strategies can reduce the risk for violence.

3 ways to prevent school shootings, based on research

In the months leading up to his 2012 attack that killed 26 people in Newtown, Connecticut, a 20-year-old man exhibited a cascade of concerning behaviors. He experienced worsening anorexia, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. His relationships deteriorated, and he became fixated on mass murders.

In 2013, an 18-year-old had enraged outbursts at school and threatened to kill his debate coach. Concerned, the school’s threat assessment team interviewed him, rating him as a low-level risk for violence. But three months after the assessment, he shot and killed a classmate and himself on school grounds in Centennial, Colorado.

By 2018, a 19-year-old man had more than 40 documented encounters with law enforcement and a history of threatening others and weapons purchases. After his mother died in 2017, family friends contacted law enforcement and expressed concern about his behavior. In 2018, he perpetrated a shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida.