Whenever something like this happens, many questions come to mind. “Why?”; “What kind of person commits something like this?; and “is there anything that could have been done to better prevent this from happening?” All of these are very important questions but difficult to answer.
Meanwhile many children are once again afraid to go to school while also reawakening past experiences of previous school shootings. Despite the actual rarity of such shootings taking place, as compared to other acts of crimes, there is a continued need to educate the public on what signs to look for in everyday encounters to better protect one another. Such efforts are being encouraged by Homeland Security in reference to terrorists and the same type of interventions need to be applied to identifying disturbed individuals in general.
One active area of investigation and inquiry has been an attempt to “profile” the type of individual or individuals who could commit these types of awful crimes in hopes of identifying them before a potential crisis could occur. These joint efforts of law enforcement, along with mental health professionals, continue and offer checklists to both school personnel and students in hopes of getting everyone involved with protecting one another.
Below is a list of some of the common profiling characteristics found in individuals who have committed school shootings as well as other serious acts of crimes. These characteristics are felt to be long standing in nature and in many cases are not identified in advance:
- A history of psychological and/or behavioral problems.
- A lack of close friends
- Historically poor judgment
- Significant use of magical thinking
- A serious lack of moral integration
- Strange habits
- Antisocial thoughts and behaviors
- Tend to be socially rejected due to their qualities
Most professionals agree that if more adults and students alike were better educated about such identifying characteristics and were made to feel more comfortable bringing these individuals to the attention of adults, the incidence of school shootings and other serious acts of pathology would decrease and these targeted individuals could perhaps receive help that they have obviously needed and have not received.
Research teaches us that individuals who demonstrate antisocial behaviors do not just “snap.” They have historic of maladaptive styles that many people in their lives have known about but not intervened.
Hopefully, the joint efforts of law enforcement, school districts, and parents will lead to better educating both children and school personnel about these profiling characteristics in hopes of further decreasing crises such as the one again experienced recently.