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News source: What leads to high school shootings?

THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
901 S. Bond St., Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231

February 28, 2012

MEDIA ADVISORY

TO:                  Assignment editors, reporters, producers

FROM:            Amy Lunday / 443-287-9960 / 410-804-2551 cell / acl@jhu.edu

RE:                  News source: What leads to high school shootings?

KatherineNewman_web

Katherine Newman

Johns Hopkins University sociologist Katherine Newman is available to speak with reporters covering yesterday’s deadly shooting incident at Chardon High School in Ohio.

Newman, dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, is a co-author of Rampage: The Social Roots Of School Shootings (Basic Books, February 2004). Newman’s research team studied several school shootings that occurred in the late 1990s and their work could help people understand the mindset of a teen shooter and how warning signs are often unheeded.

In a piece written for CNN’s Global Public Square blog, Newman said, “High school shooters are rarely loners. They are ‘failed joiners.’ The difference is important. A loner absents himself from social contact and withdraws from the world around him. Shooters are engaged, but not successful. They reach out to cliques, only to be rebuffed. Their daily social experience is of rejection and frustration, not isolation. After repeated attempts to gain entry into social groups, all of which fail miserably, they hit on a ‘last act’ that works.”

In the CNN commentary, Newman said that the researchers found that fellow students often pick up on a shooter’s veiled threats in the days before an attack, but don’t come forward because “those warnings are rarely clear” and teens “are loathe to be tagged as tattle tales, a social risk of its own, when they aren’t sure what they really know.” Likewise, adults “do not come forward to the boy’s parents for fear of rupturing long standing social ties of their own. They avoid rather than confront.”

“The result is a surplus of information that something terrible is going to happen that never filters into the hands of someone who can act preemptively,” Newman said.

To speak to Newman, contact Amy Lunday at acl@jhu.edu, 443-287-9960 office or 410-804-2551 cell.

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