Date of Conferral
Kristen R. Beyer
Targeted school violence (TSV) in the United States is increasing, causing a loss of innocent lives and challenges for teachers and students in building rapport. In addition, TSV increases levels of anxiety and makes it difficult for parents and community members to believe students are safe while at school. Several studies have highlighted the fact that age may be a factor in school shootings, calling for future research to determine if age is indeed influential. The problem is to date age has not been established as a predictive factor, even though the extant research is beginning to identify possible variances. Guided by general strain theory and ceremonial violence, this study determined statistical significance between age and select variables in the personal, event, and ecological categories. This information could be illuminating to educators, mental health professionals, and law enforcement for threat assessment purposes. The information was gathered on all TSV members within the United States from 1966 to 2015 through archival data, and the data were analyzed using logistic regression, Pearson's correlation, and Spearman's correlation. Results indicated that, as age increases, the offenders are more likely to have a higher social status, have a mental health and criminal history, carry out their act in the afternoon, and choose a knife as a weapon. In addition, older offenders are less likely to be students and less likely to have been bullied. Implications for social change include modifications to current threat assessment protocol regarding weapon choice and previous mental health or criminal history, which could be utilized to change public policy for mandatory reporting of students identified as at risk. Also, younger offenders are being bullied more often than older offenders and this could add more awareness to antibullying program procedure and earlier mental health intervention.