Adolescent Rampage School Shootings: Responses to Failing Masculinity Performances by Already-Troubled Boys

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Gender Issues

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This research considers the role of failing masculinity in rampage school shootings committed by adolescents. Examined is the thesis that these young shooters experience a discrediting of their enactment of a traditional normative masculinity, wellknown in U.S. culture and particularly salient in boys' achievement of insider status in middle and high school; viewing their classmates' rebuffs as undeserved injustices, the boys become increasingly angry and more violent in their gendered practice, culminating in the rampage school shooting. Data from a sample of all identifiable adolescent rampage school shooters in the U.S. from 1995 through 2015 (31 shooters, 29 shootings) who met the definitional criteria were examined for ways in which factors linked to school shooters in the research literature are gendered and reflected in the shooters' social performances at school. Also explored were personal troubles of school shooters identified in prior research that might contribute to the boys' gendered failings, and to the rampage itself. Results support the above thesis, as well as the existence of sub-groupings differentiated by type of personal trouble. These sub-groupings also differed in the distribution and intensify of insider masculinity-related behaviors, including the planning and execution of the shooting itself. Based on the findings from this study, interventions for the prevention of adolescent rampage school shootings are suggested.



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