What Goes on In the Minds of School Shooters?

Teenagers all over the world are the same in many ways. They share many of the same basic hopes, dreams, and aspirations. They also tend to share many of the same worries and apprehensions. However, the way that they choose to respond to perceived slights or attacks can vary. A small percentage of them may make a fateful and tragic decision.

Desperados Are the Exception, Never the Norm

The total number of school shootings has declined ever since the 1990s. This may come as a shock to people who have been raised on a steady media diet of high school massacres. It is true that the recent outbreak of the global pandemic caused the number of school shootings to decline even further. This last trend was very welcome, even if temporary.

However, despite the fact that school shootings are nowhere near as prevalent as you may think, they are still quite deadly. It’s crucial to realize that people who become shooters are very much the exception, rather than any kind of norm. You should also keep in mind that there are certain qualities, tangible and otherwise, that can be noted.

More articles on The Psychology of Crime and Justice:
How Negative Childhood Experiences Affect Crime
The Mental Effects of Being Incarcerated and Labeled as a Criminal
The Neurological Underpinnings of Serial Killers
What Goes on in the Mind of School Shooters?

Many people who end up as school shooters are known to be the exact reverse of the kind of person you would suspect. They are quiet, introverted, and shy individuals. Rather than being “gun nuts”, jocks, or bullies, they are often the unpopular kids who are the butt of bullying. Some may be the victims of direct racial or sexual bullying.

Are There Signs to Spot in Advance?

The insults, discrimination, and violence that they may endure on a daily basis can slowly build up to a boiling point. This is a process that may take time to mature. They may try to ignore the stress by escaping into a fantasy world of their own making. However, when further bullying intrudes, they may decide to take new measures.

To begin with, the vast majority of school shooters are male. Only 4 of the 101 school shootings that have taken place in the last 50 years were committed by females. The impact of male-to-male violence, especially on a less socially adept individual, can run very deep. They can form scars that the person who bears them is unable to heal.

Some people think that the person who listens to violent heavy metal or gangster rap music is the person to look out. This is not always so. Such music is a healthy outlet for the average frustrations, stress, and growth pains that people of that age are prone to undergo. It doesn’t mark the mindset that creates a future school shooter.

One sign that is reasonably accurate is when a shooter leaves behind material that gives a preview for intentions. Many shooters desire their diaries to be published so that others can learn about the process that led them down this path. Some do it as a cry for help while others simply desire to leave their words behind as a manifesto.

Is There a Way to Defuse the Tension?

Not every fantasy of revenge leads to a bloody school shooting. These types of fantasies can be seen as a way of rationalizing away the anger that we feel. But it’s never a good idea to try to repress them or treat them lightly.

A person who seems to be bearing up well under stress by simply not communicating pain can be a lightning rod for a future tragedy. Now is the time to sit down with them, empathize with them, and see if they need help.