A model for differentiating school shooters characteristics

Maria Ioannou, Laura Hammond, Olivia Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


– The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential for developing a model for differentiating school shooters based on their characteristics (or risk factors) before the attack took place.

– Data on 40 school shootings was compiled from the National School Safety Center’s Report on School Associated Violent Deaths and media accounts. Content analysis of the cases produced a set of 18 variables relating to offenders’ characteristics (or risk factors). Data were subjected to Smallest Space Analysis (SSA), a non-metric multidimensional scaling procedure.

– Results revealed three distinct themes: Disturbed School Shooter, Rejected School Shooter and Criminal School Shooter. Further analysis identified links between these themes with the family background of the offender.

Research limitations/implications
– These findings have both significant theoretical implications in the understanding of school shooters and the crime in general. They offer potential for practical applications in terms of prevention and intervention strategies. A key limitation relates to the quality of data.

– This is the first study to develop a model for differentiating school shooter characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-200
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Criminal Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2015


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