A recent US Department of Justice and US Department of Education report describes statistics relating to school violence and crime which includes the mortality rate (Robers, Zhang, Truman, & Snyder, 2012). There were 33 student, staff, and non-student deaths at school in the 2009 to 2010 school year, of which 5 occurred due to suicide, 3 involved law enforcement and the other 25 were homicides (Robers et al., 2012, p. iv). To put these figures in perspective, the year before there were 1,579 homicides of children and youth in the United States, but only 17 occurred at school (Robers et al., 2012, p. v). This was surprising because it indicated just how safe schools were given that just 1.08% of all homicides for this group occurred on school property.
While in 81% of violent, targeted school attacks there was at least one person who knew of the plan, these people might hesitate to come forward because they do not want to be involved, they are not entirely sure of the person’s commitment to the plan, and fear of retaliation by the individual with the plan if authorities do not react to news of the plan.
The most significant difference between school shootings and mass shootings in the general population is the vulnerability of the population, and the responsibility of care which schools have regarding their students.
The main challenges of preventing mass shootings in schools, the workplace, and the public are the that it would require a massive effort and invasion of personal privacy of the public. There are no proven strategies to help control this type of violence because a successful model has yet to be implemented and proven effective. While it can be surmised that a general cultural attitude against violence and difficulty in accessing weapons at the cause of regulation would be helpful as a strategy, even countries such as Norway which fit this profile have had incidents involving a lone shooter in a school (Sandberg, Oksanen, Berntzen, & Kiilakoski, 2014).
Ideological differences can interfere with making meaningful criminal justice reform to prevent mass shootings because it can interfere with a failure to look at the evidence based on pre-existing beliefs. An important ideological difference relates to gun control. Gun control should not be a partisan issue, it should be a safety issue. Other barriers to criminal justice reform include legislation and ease of access to guns and weapons.