As of Tuesday afternoon, three of the five students shot in the Ohio school had died. The 17-year-old accused of the shooting had appeared in court and his photo was all over Yahoo news wearing a flak jacket.
I am so sad for all the families who have lost children, but feel particular pain and sympathy for the alleged shooter and his family.
Why sympathy for the alleged shooter? Because it could be anyone’s child sitting there having made this terrible mistake.
A 2002 study by the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education points out there is no profile for school shooters. It’s not always the Goth kid or always the lonely kid or always the bullied kid. It could be anyone.
The Secret Service studied case files and other primary sources for 37 attacks by current or former students, and also interviewed 10 of the perpetrators.
“The demographic, personality, school history, and social characteristics of the attackers varied substantially,” the report said. Attackers were of all races and family situations, with academic achievement ranging from failing to excellent.
“Most, but not all, have been male, though that fact alone doesn’t help an adult rule in or out someone as dangerous.”
The article went on to say that is wasn’t the “crazy” kids, loners or kids in fringe groups:
“Only one-third of the attackers had ever been seen by a mental health professional, and only one-fifth had been diagnosed with a mental disorder. Substance abuse problems were also not prevalent. ‘However, most attackers showed some history of suicidal attempts or thoughts, or a history of feeling extreme depression or desperation.’ Most attackers had difficulty coping with significant losses or personal failures.”
One thing the school attackers in the study did have in common though was access to weapons:
“Most attackers had access to weapons, and had used them prior to the attack. Most of the attackers acquired their guns from home.”
So what is the take-home lesson from this? What will the discussion be at your house? Will it be about guns in your home or guns in friends’ homes? Will it be about how your teen is feeling – are they happy and hopeful or sad and depressed? How can parents use this tragedy to help prevent other attacks?