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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Warning signs

In the aftermath of school shootings, including the killing of four adults and five students at Red Lake High School in northern Minnesota last March, attention is being paid to the 2002 U.S. Secret Service study of the shooters to establish warning signs that can be used to identify potential shooters and prevent the killings.

The Secret Service found that:

* incidents of targeted violence are rarely sudden, impulsive acts
* prior to most incidents, other people knew about the attacker’s ideas and plans
* most attackers engage in behavior prior to the incident that causes concern and indicates a need for help
* most attackers had difficulty coping with significant losses or personal failures
* most attackers felt bullied or persecuted by others before the attack
* most attackers had access to weapons prior to the attack

It is imperative that school administrators be aware of these warning signs and train their faculty and staff to identify students who may be at risk of causing violence.