School shootings are at a record high this year – but they can be prevented

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Whenever a school shooting takes place like the one at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit on November 30, 2021, it is typically followed by a familiar chorus of questions.

How could such a thing happen? Why doesn’t the government do more to stop these shootings from occurring?

Those questions are even more urgent in light of the fact that the shooting at Oxford High School was one of 222 school shootings in 2021, an all-time high, according to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s K-12 School Shooting Database. That’s over 100 more school shootings in 2021 than in 2019 or 2018, respectively the second-and third-worst years on record.

As shown in our 2021 book, “The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic,” school mass shooters tend to be current or former students of the school. They are almost always in crisis of some sort before their attack, as indicated by a noticeable change in behavior from usual. They often are inspired by other school shooters, and they also tend to leak their plans for violence in advance to their peers. The question now is how to translate these findings into policy and practice in order to prevent the next school shooting.

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