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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Committee on Law and Justice
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

Committee on Case Studies in School Violence 


Project Scope

The Board on Children, Youth, and Families and the Committee on Law and Justice will establish a committee to characterize antecedents of school violence in urban, suburban, and rural schools. Special attention will be given to schools where shooting incidents involving multiple victims have taken place. This eighteen-month project will include one workshop, case studies of recent school shootings (to the extent that information can be obtained from other agencies), and a final report. 


U.S. Department of Education


Committee Membership
MARK H. MOORE (Chair), John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
PHILIP J. COOK, Public Policy Studies, Duke University
THOMAS A. DISHION, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon
DENISE C. GOTTFREDSON, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland
PHILIP B. HEYMANN, Harvard Law School, Harvard University
JAMES F. SHORT, JR., Department of Sociology, Washington State University
STEPHEN A. SMALL, Department of Child and Family Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
LEWIS H. SPENCE, Department of Social Services, Boston, Massachusetts
LINDA A. TEPLIN, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Northwestern University

CAROL PETRIE, Study Director
ANTHONY A. BRAGA (Consultant), John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
BRENDA MCLAUGHLIN, Research Assistant
LECIA QUARLES, Project Assistant (until March 2002)
MICHELLE AUCOIN MCGUIRE, Project Assistant (after March 2002)

Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence (2003)

 Deadly Lessons report cover





The shooting at Columbine High School riveted national attention on violence in the nation s schools. This dramatic example signaled an implicit and growing fear that these events would continue to occur and even escalate in scale and severity.


How do we make sense of the tragedy of a school shooting or even draw objective conclusions from these incidents? Deadly Lessons is the outcome of the National Research Council's unique effort to glean lessons from six case studies of lethal student violence. These are powerful stories of parents and teachers and troubled youths, presenting the tragic complexity of the young shooter s social and personal circumstances in rich detail.


The cases point to possible causes of violence and suggest where interventions may be most effective. Readers will come away with a better understanding of the potential threat, how violence might be prevented, and how healing might be promoted in affected communities.


For each case study, Deadly Lessons relates events leading up to the violence, provides quotes from personal interviews about the incident, and explores the impact on the community. The case studies center on:

  • Two separate incidents in East New York in which three students were killed and a teacher was seriously wounded.
  • A shooting on the south side of Chicago in which one youth was killed and two wounded.
  • A shooting into a prayer group at a Kentucky high school in which three students were killed.
  • The killing of four students and a teacher and the wounding of 10 others at an Arkansas middle school.
  • The shooting of a popular science teacher by a teenager in Edinboro, Pennsylvania.
  • A suspected copycat of Columbine in which six students were wounded in Georgia




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