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School shootings in the United States and a few other countries such as Canada and Germany have continued to elicit debates among stakeholders. While there is considerable optimism about the possibility of eliminating institutional violence such as school shootings, the diversity of the assumed causes of school shootings complicates the positivity. In response to a series of school shootings in the years the 1990s to 2002, sociologist Catherine Newman presented a unique perspective on the dynamics of social formations associated with school shootings. The publication effectively delivers the connection between social, political, and economic demographics of perpetrators of school shootings and forwards a theoretical approach to the comprehension of various cases of school rampage. Despite the existence of credible literature investigating school shootings and possible solutions to addressing the societal challenge, the probability of school shootings remains a safety concern for public institutions in the United States. The paper presents a reflection on Kathrine Newman’s publication addressing the social perspective of school shootings.

Theoretical Perspective

The comprehension of the historical origins of the causes of school shootings and the associated predisposing factor is instrumental in the development of possible solutions. Accordingly, a school shooting can be described as an assault on an educational institution whereby a student opens fire and shoots fellow students, faculty members, or both within the premises of the institution. The attack may result in the injury or death of one or multiple victims depending on the type of weapon used the speed of response from administrative authority and the reaction of the public. Accordingly, Newman proposed a hypothesized sociological perspective of the causes of school shootings in the United States comprising of a combination of at least five important factors. Primarily the assailants typically are marginalized individuals in the society; the individuals suffer from personal vulnerabilities that amplify the effects of marginalization, the perpetrators have access to single or multiple sources of philosophies that glorify violence, the community, and the schools fail to identify the obvious intentions of the assailant timely, and lastly, the shooters have access to firearms. Despite the variations of school shootings from one incident to another, the predisposing factors have founding relations with the social and political dynamics of the area of jurisdiction. It is hence necessary to examine the social and political balances of the American community in consideration of school shootings in various locations in the country.

Social Dynamics

The prevalence of mass shootings, particularly in public schools, has been associated with imperfections and social deviance. Notably, contemporary American Society is a long-term blend of intercultural norms diversely distributed in major cities and suburban towns. According to Newman (2004), contrary to the previous perception of school shootings occulting within major cities more often than in other towns, the demographics of the shootings reveal a high prevalence of violent insurgency is more likely in suburban areas. The assertion effectively challenges the notion that perpetrators of violence are unlikely to originate from well-structured families and socially balanced societies. It is correct to note that regardless of the location of the school or public facility, society as a whole plays a major unconscious role in the development of social eccentrics who are often the main perpetrators of school shootings. It is, therefore, prudent to establish the connection between the school-based violence that escalates to mass shootings amid the perception of a suitable societal infrastructure as a foundation for the proper growth and development of students.

The supporting social relation structures of the perpetrators vary from one case to another, effectively influencing the level of damage caused in every school-shooting event. There are considerable societal structures that feature in most cases ranging from family formations, institutional stigmatization through bullying, gender-centric societal expectations of young people, and unrestricted access to violent entertainment resources through the internet and video games. However, the interconnectedness of the neighborhood ties among the members of society, and public learning institutions, coupled with the insensitivity of society to security structures in schools creates an unfavorable environment for the growth of unique individuals (Newman, 2004). As a result, the primary structures of recognizing and attending to security threats possessed by the perpetrators go unnoticed in many cases. Therefore, one can undeniably agree to the fact that the balances of social formations increase the vulnerability of mass shootings in suburban regions in the United States.

Political Dynamics

American policies in gun control have always ignited local and international political debates as the cases of gun violence continue to escalate. Accordingly, while the regulated access and use of firearms for adults are constitutionally regulated, a majority of school shootings involve juvenile access and utilization of guns from either parents or close relatives. In that respect, although Newman recognizes the occurrence of school shootings in other countries including Germany and Canada, there is a considerable affirmation of gun availability among Americans results in a high number of cases of gun violence such as school shootings than any other country in the world (Newman, 2004). Unfortunately, the historical political support of the right to own firearms for American citizens prevents institutions of prohibitory laws for civilian ownership and operations of guns. Therefore, security stakeholders are effectively forced to develop alternative regulatory frameworks to guarantee public safety in learning institutions. On the other hand, while gun violence plays a role in escalating the extent of damage caused during shootings, the option to use violence as a way of expression among the youth reveals the extent of the weaknesses in the existing societal structures in the country.

From a different perspective, the resolution to physical assault as the final option of expression among the members of the society reveals existing loopholes in the entire social system. According to Newman (2004), marginalization among peers coupled with low social status as a result of bullying and public ridicule are among the major characteristics of the victims who turn out as perpetrators in the school shooting. Moreover, the shooters are subjected to predisposing factors that increase their vulnerability, including deterioration in mental health, social isolation in the school, and home settings in addition to a considerable degree of personal paranoia. While the hypothesized predisposing factors may not result in a violent reaction by the individuals, access to antagonistic cultural beliefs that glorify armed attacks to prove dominion, manhood, and restore authority, and unrestricted exposure to aggressive digital continents such as violent video games resonate in different cases of school shootings. Interestingly, political stakeholders in the federal and state government agencies regulate the legal provisions of the management of the majority of predisposing factors.

Corrective Measures

It is in the interest of every result and future-oriented government administration to guarantee the safety of the public. Besides, it is the responsibility of security agencies at all levels to ensure the safety of the citizens for continuous political stability and social development to occur. In addition to international criticism of the American policies of weapon control, particularly for civilians, there is increasing popularity of anti-gun activism in the country (Newman, 2004). It is hence correct to recognize the administrative pressure in the development of sustainable solutions to the political and social challenges leading to the escalation of school shootings in the country. Notably, Newman identifies the role of societal problems contributing to the threat of school shootings in American learning institutions. Precisely, the author identifies the connection between violence to the loss of social structures that lead to the development and actualization of mass shootings in schools. Fixing the loopholes in the social and political weaknesses of the American structures effectively reduces the probability of future institutional assaults.

Despite the lack of frequent school shootings in society, the topic remains an issue in society because once in a while students often get injured or die from shootings. The author analyses two columbine shootings from the Westside middle school and the Heath High school. The analysis comes with questions that the author attempts to answer to have reasons why shootings occur in schools. The problem is how respectable families produce rampage killers. The book has main themes that include gun control, legislation, and students. According to the author, the 1990s had a variety of tragedies caused by middle and high school students. The students shot and killed their schoolmates and teachers. Society was shocked, and this probed people to have answers to why such actions occur. Katherine Newman and her researchers discovered rampage shootings behaviors to be a unique act that occurs in school domains. The author shows a 14-year-old boy known as Michael Carneal that had killed three students and injured five. Newman researched various individual pathologies like mental health and depression among teenagers in society. The author identifies social hierarchy, popularity, and self-worth among students as the developing factor that might lead to rampage and social shooting. Shootings represent rampage and rage among students that feel left out in society. Peer pressure among students could be a contributing factor to the theme of rampage among students in society.


Conclusively, the social-political dynamics of the parameters of school shootings demand the incorporation of a collective approach by the stakeholders. It is essential to revisit the legal provisions of the gun control regulations in the country and access to violent entertainment programs and video games among learners in the interest of public safety. Secondly, the administrators of learning institutions should incorporate student welfare-supporting structures, including counseling and sufficient student profiling for administrative purposes. Additionally, there is a need to incorporate modern security infrastructure to identify and mitigate potential public security threats in learning institutions. Importantly, collective social responsibility is paramount in fostering socially upright individuals and addressing the weaknesses in societal structures. 

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