Campus Mourns Virginia Tech Tragedy (Part 2)

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Campus Mourns Virginia Tech Tragedy (Part 2)

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<b>SHOOTING: Study shows that often many common myths about school shootings are not necessarily correct.</b>

By Chammarra Johnson
Staff Writer


Following the recent shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, an article released on MSNBC.com last February has many people talking about the many misconceptions regarding the perpetrators of school shootings and what this means for colleges across the country.


The list was compiled from a 2002 study by the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education. The researchers studied various case files and other primary sources for 37 attacks by current or former students. They also interviewed 10 of the perpetrators in these attacks. According to the list, the most common myths are:


There Are No Profiles - There is no accurate way to profile students for being at risk of committing crimes like this. When creating a profile, you will be at risk of having many innocent people fit the &#39;profile&#39; and many attackers who do not. According to the article, "The demographic, personality, school history and social characteristics of the attackers varied substantially. Attackers were of all races and family situations, with academic achievement ranging from failing to excellent."


He Just Snapped - Attacks are not usually impulsive. Instead, the attackers usually plan their attacks, spending time forming the idea and gathering weapons.


No One Knew - Before most attacks, the perpetrators reveal to someone their plans, usually a friend, classmate or sibling. However, this information rarely makes it to an adult.


He Hadn&#39;t Threatened Anyone - A person doesn&#39;t need to vocalize a threat to pose a threat. A student who is seeking revenge, has spoken of bringing a gun to school, etc, is a threat. According to the article, "Most attackers did not threaten and most threateners did not attack."


He Was a Loner - Most of the perpetrators of school shootings were kids who participated in clubs, sports or other activities. Only one-quarter of shooters were "fringe" students.


He Was Crazy - While most of the perpetrators had a history of suicidal thoughts, depression and trouble dealing with loss or personal failures, only one-third had ever been seen by mental health professional and only one-fifth were diagnosed with a mental disorder.


If Only We&#39;d Had a SWAT Team or Metal Detectors - SWAT teams usually arrive once an incident is over and metal detectors won&#39;t deter students intent on killing themselves or others.


He&#39;d Never Touched a Gun - Most shooters have touched a gun at some point in their lives and many acquire guns from their homes.


We Did Everything We Could to Help Him - Most perpetrators of school shootings have felt bullied, persecuted or injured by others before committing their crimes and most have tried to get some sort of help.


School Violence Is Rampant - It may seem as though we see school shootings in the news on a regular basis, but school shootings are actually very rare.


So, in light of the recent shooting at Virginia Tech, do UC Irvine students feel more at risk?


Anthony Marsh, a fourth-year history major, feels that we are not at risk. "In California, there are stricter gun control laws so it isn&#39;t as easy for people to wantonly walk into gun shops and purchase them."


Another student, who wishes to remain anonymous disagrees. "This shooting has shown me that violence like this can occur anywhere, even on college campuses. What I am most afraid of is that in Irvine, we won&#39;t be prepared if something of this nature happens. The administration and police might not know what to do."


Professor Linda Vo, an Asian-American studies professor, hopes that we will use this tragedy in order to strengthen our own school policies. "I do hope that we use this opportunity to reevaluate our mental health policies on university campuses and make improvements where necessary. College campuses are now more diverse than ever before, so it&#39;s important to have counselors who are trained to work with their needs.


Everyone is making changes in response to this tragedy in order to better serve the school community in a time of crisis. Currently, the UCI Police Department is going over and revamping procedures in order to prepare for such an event. But if something were to occur, would they be ready? Hopefully, we will never know.

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Original Source:<a href=http://www.newuniversity.org/showArticle.php?id=5713>New University - April 23, 2007</a>

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Chammarra Johnson

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2007-08-19

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Sara Hood

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Zachary Gale <newueic@gmail.com>

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eng

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Chammarra Johnson, "Campus Mourns Virginia Tech Tragedy (Part 2)," in The April 16 Archive, Item #1145, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/1145 (accessed October 23, 2014).