Study Shows Student-Teacher Conflicts Contribute to School Shootings

More than four in 10 offenders had experienced some sort of conflict with teachers or campus representatives before they carried out their attacks.

Previously, it was assumed that bullying by peers and social exclusion of campus gunmen were the primary causes of school shootings. New research now indicates that conflicts with teachers is another significant risk factor.

German researchers analyzed 37 studies of 126 attacks in the United States, Canada, Germany, Finland, Brazil, Argentine, Australia, Bosnia, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Sweden and Thailand. Nearly nine out of 10 perpetrators (88%) had experienced problems in their social lives and 85% had been marginalized, reports PsyPost.

What surprised researchers was that 43% of offenders had experienced some sort of conflict with teachers or campus representatives. However, U.S. gunmen were more likely to have experienced bullying by their peers than German perpetrators.

Nearly 30% of the students that had committed gun violence on school campuses had been physically bullied by their peers, and about 54% had experienced some type of peer rejection in their schools, with nearly a third experiencing rejection or disappointment in their romantic lives. Thirteen percent were bullies themselves.

Not as many of the perpetrators in the study were as socially isolated as had been previously assumed. Nearly half (48%) of the offenders were described by others as “loners,” but only 24% of the perpetrators described themselves that way. Forty-three percent of gunman had friends.

Lack of training could be a reason why student conflicts with teachers and administrators are an issue.

A study conducted by Campus Safety magazine last year indicated that only 28% of the schools and universities surveyed have their teachers, faculty and staff participate in crisis intervention/verbal de-escalation training. Additionally, more than half of survey respondents were either very unsatisfied (23%) or somewhat unsatisfied (32%) with the amount of safety and security training their campus/district administrators, teachers, faculty and staff receive.

Photo: ThinkStock

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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