If it seems that the frequency of high school mass shootings in the US is increasing you would be correct: more people have died or been injured in mass school shootings in the past 18 years than in the entire 20th century.
Researcher Antonis Katsiyannis of Clemson University and colleagues found the recent killing of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida is part of an epidemic.
A shooting is a "mass shooting" when four or more people are killed (excluding the shooter). School shootings aren’t new, for example, in 1940 a junior high school principal killed six adults including the school's district business manager. No similar mass shootings occurred in the 1950s and 1960s.
However, school shootings have been steadily increasing since 1979. Overall, the death toll from mass school shootings was 12 in the 1980s and 36 in the 1990s.
During the 20th century, mass school shootings saw 55 dead and 260 injured at schools, especially in America's Western region. Most of the 25 shooters involved were white males who acted alone, and only nine were diagnosed as suffering from mental illnesses at the time. Sixty percent of shooters were between 11 and 18 years old.
Since the start of the 21st century there have already been 13 incidents involving lone shooters; they have killed 66 people and injured 81 others.
"In less than 18 years, we have already seen more deaths related to school shootings than in the whole 20th century. One alarming trend is that the overwhelming majority of 21st-century shooters were adolescents, suggesting that it is now easier for them to access guns, and that they more frequently suffer from mental health issues or limited conflict resolution skills," says Katsiyannis.
The violence could be addressed with expanded background checks of potential gun owners, and a ban on assault weapons. Mental health issues among adolescent students and adults should also be addressed more thoroughly. School personnel should also implement tiered models of support and school-based mental health services to support students' social, emotional, and behavioral well-being and prevent school violence.
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