School violence expert has conducted research involving a long-term national study of the behavior and patterns in the lives of 15 school shooters involved in 13 incidences of targeted school violence from 1996 to 2005 in American schools.
The study, conducted by Ann Marie C. Lenhardt, PhD, professor of counseling and human services at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, is based on case studies of data derived from archival sources. Individual shooters included in the study perpetrated an act of targeted violence in their schools, acts that were preplanned, not impulsive.
According to Lenhardt, who has been studying school violence for nearly a decade, “Many of the school shooters described themselves as having been bullied and persecuted. Results showed that 71 percent of attackers felt rejected and isolated by peers, 64 percent had poor coping skills and 64 percent demonstrated an exaggerated need for attention and respect.”
Lenhardt has also conducted research in the Western New York area in 10 local school districts. She designed a focus group methodology for listening, recording and analyzing the voices of students, parents, school personnel and community agencies on the topic of school violence. The dialogues centered on the perceptions of these school stakeholders on school violence and related school climate and culture issues.
“Our research found that, surprisingly, both local students, ranging from at-risk to student leaders, and students nationally who have been involved in acts of school violence have similar recommendations to offer school leaders,” said Lenhardt.
She says the message is clear. “Students feel a lack of caring and respect in their relationships with adults in schools and feel they need a more collaborative relationship with these adults,” said Lenhardt. “Also, students said that there is an undercurrent of emotional or psychological violence such as teasing, bullying, being picked on and name calling present in their schools.”
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