What characteristics are common among school shooters?

Michele Borba
Michele Borba
The U.S. Secret Service conducted one of the most thorough studies of school shooters over the past decades to try and create a "profile." That study uncovered certain commonalities of shooters. Though these characteristics do not predict a shooter, student school shooters are more likely to be:
  • Male
  • Caucasian
  • Withdrawn (pulls back from school activities)
  • Isolated or rejected from peers
  • Living in a rural community
  • Have easy access to weapons
  • Bullied repeatedly from a young age (there is a point when the bullied child flips roles and becomes the bully)
  • From a troubled home
Several school students were also mentally disturbed. In addition, there are warning signs of a child who may become violent (to himself or others). Michael G. Conner, Psy.D. and Medical Psychologist offers a few other signs to watch for:
  • Feelings and behavior are easily influenced by peers;
  • Victimized or treated badly by peers;
  • Alcohol or other drug use;
  • Dwells on experiences of rejection, on injustices or unrealistic fears;
  • Reacts to disappointments, criticisms or teasing with extreme and intense anger, blame or a desire for revenge;
  • Increasing anger, aggression, and destructive behavior;
  • Associates with children known to be involved with morbid, destructive or violent behavior or fantasy;
  • Preoccupation or interest in destructive or violent behavior;
  • Has been cruel or violent towards pets or other animals;
  • Fascinated interest or an obsession with weapons or potential weapons;
  • Depicts violent or destructive behaviors in artistic or other creative expressions.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.