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Paperback Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings Book

ISBN: 0465051049

ISBN13: 9780465051045

Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings

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Book Overview

A distinguished sociologist reveals the warning signs of a school shooter--and why we so often miss them

Parkland. Sandy Hook. Columbine. The list of school shootings gets longer by the day, and it often seems like no school is safe. Over the last decades, school shootings have decimated communities and terrified parents, teachers, and children in even the most family friendly American towns and suburbs.

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Customer Reviews

5 ratings

This book stands alone...

Since 2004, there have been over 1,000 books written on bullying and interventions---most prompted by the rash of school shootings in the late 1990's. Newman's book stands alone for it's clairty and genuine contribution to understanding this complex issue. Having read many texts on this topic, this is by far the one I would recommend to my colleagues.

On ballistics and sociological bruises

The first thing one has to do, when trying to take a serious look at the subject of school shootings, is to put things in perspective. After all, despite the shocking and graphic images seen during the media frenzies following these events, the actual statistics do not support an epidemic of violence in schools. Less than 1% of homicides and suicides among school-age children actually occur in or around school grounds. 99% of the violence that school-age children are subjected to happens outside of school grounds and outside of school hours. Kids in violent urban neighborhoods are statistically safer in the classroom during school hours than in any waking hours. That aside, I began working my way through this book, and trying to keep a disciplined perspective on things, on February 13th, a couple weeks ago, the day before the shootings at NIU. Besides the coincidence in the timing, the NIU shooting was the first of its kind where I had to worry about people very close to me being involved. Millions of kids represented statistically mean nothing compared to a single horrific story involving the real people who populate my life. It was a tragic reminder for me that no one is immune to gut reactions. There is no minimizing the importance of this topic, and not just because we want to avoid future tragedies, but also because the discussion sheds light on themes that affect multiple aspects of our shared culture and our collective quality of life. The authors here take an interesting approach. The automatic responses from most people, as far as preventative approaches, would be limited access to guns and a greater focus on screening for individuals who are likely to perpetrate these horrendous crimes. But, for a myriad of reasons, not all of which are simply political, neither of these approaches end up being straightforward. I could rant on and on about gun laws, we all have strong opinions, but that would steer me too far off course. As far as predictive strategies, focused on identifying adolescents likely to commit serious acts of mass violence, you have the same statistical problems you would have trying to screen for a very rare form of a medical illness. The more rare the event, the greater the ratio of false positives versus true positives for any measure. This is not necessarily a problem, if resources are ample, costs of screening are low, and the outcome of being falsely screened in is completely benign. But in the real world, designing an accurate screening tool that is practical and not potentially harmful is not an easy task. Believe me. There are many researchers who have dedicated their entire careers to this without producing a demonstrably valid instrument. The authors of "Rampage" draw on their extensive fieldwork in the aftermaths of two school shootings, as well as other data in the literature, and come to the conclusion that best solutions will be found in "the insights of sociology over psychology." Th

A readable study on a difficult subject

With the thwarting of yet another rampage shooting making headlines in Massachusetts, and one that allegedly involves the son of a chief of police, the relevance of Katherine Newman's study has been dramatically underlined. I read the book as the parent of teenagers and found it both chilling and informative. Chilling because it appears that the discovery of such plots is still often fortuitous. The excellent analysis of why these shootings occur gives no easy reassurance but does offer some help for us to understand and, hopefully, points to some ways in which we can help abort other shootings. "Rampage" is informative because the authors study not just what led to the news headlines but include an examination of how the communities coped in the aftermath of the tragedies. The book is easily accessible to non-sociologists without being sensationalist in tone. I hope it is being read by many educators and parents.

Wonderful, clear, and essential for educators

This excellent and practical book rests on in-depth interviews at the scene of two school shootings and makes clear, research-based recommendations for schools. For all of us who have wondered why these shootings happened and what we can do to prevent them, this book is indispensable. Stan Davis

Thoughtful reading

This is a pretty remarkable book. It is quite scholarly in nature, but gripping and accessible reading. As a teacher in a secondary school, I found it fascinating because it belies many of the popular misconceptions about schools and school shootings. It studies the students themselves, the school climates, the social pressures and situations, and the role of the family. I found myself nodding at various points and reading it aloud to whoever was in range. I have asked that it be ordered for our district's professional library. It's pertinent for any educator, but also for parents and concerned community members. It doesn't make me afraid, but it has made me reconsider some of the things I have taken for granted and it makes me more aware of student behavior and concerns. Above all it speaks to our need to better communicate within the school, and between the school and the family.
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