The Social Roots of School Shootings
Katherine S. Newman, Cybelle Fox, David Harding, Jal Mehta and Wendy Roth
The first study to examine why violence erupts in America’s small towns and suburbs—and what can be done to prevent it.
In the last decade, school shootings have decimated communities and terrified parents, teachers, and children in even the most “family friendly” American towns and suburbs. These tragedies appear to be the spontaneous acts of troubled, disconnected teens, but this important book argues that the roots of violence are deeply entwined in the communities themselves. Rampage challenges the “loner theory” of school violence, and shows why so many adults and students miss the warning signs that could prevent it.
Drawing on more than 200 interviews with town residents, distinguished sociologist Katherine Newman and her co-authors take the reader inside two of the most notorious school shootings of the 1990s, in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and Paducah, Kentucky. In a powerful and original analysis, she demonstrates that the organizational structure of schools “loses” information about troubled kids, and the very closeness of these small rural towns restrained neighbors and friends from communicating what they knew about their problems. Her conclusions shed light on the ties that bind in small-town America.
Praise for Rampage
…a heavily researched but highly accessible look at a troubling social issue.
Newman has fully embraced the challenge of explaining rare but devastating events, and has done so in an entirely readable and unpretentious fashion. She reveals the social roots of school shootings by mixing detailed case studies with macro-level analyses, and by combining a warm empathy for their victims with a hard-nosed stance towards the facts.
—Scott Davies, Sociological Research Online