Eye on Education

Tragic But Rare: Odds of Dying in a School Shooting, as in Chardon, About One in a Million

Kevin Niedermier / WKSU

Parents wait to pick up students at Chardon Middle School on Feb. 27, 2012.

One student was killed and four others were injured in a shooting at Chardon High School today. (More on the shootings here.)

While “targeted school violence” is not a new or recent phenomenon, a 2004 joint U.S. Department of Education/Secret Service report says few children are likely to be shot at school:

To put the problem of targeted school-based attacks in context, from 1993 to 1997, the odds that a child in grades 9-12 would be threatened or injured with a weapon in school were 7 to 8 percent, or 1 in 13 or 14; the odds of getting into a physical fight at school were 15 percent, or 1 in 7. In contrast, the odds that a child would die in school–by homicide or suicide–are, fortunately, no greater than 1 in 1 million.

SuccessTech Academy Shooting

One of the most recent Ohio school shootings also happened in Northeast Ohio: In October 2007, a student at Cleveland alternative high school SuccessTech Academy shot four students and teachers before killing himself.

School shootings are scary, and have lasting effects on their communities, the feds say:

The high profile shootings that have occurred in schools over the past decade have resulted in increased fear among students, parents, and educators. School shootings are a rare, but significant, component of the problem of school violence. Each school-based attack has had a tremendous and lasting effect on the school in which it occurred, the surrounding community, and the nation as a whole.

And while nearly all students who committed “school shootings” were male, there is no profile of a typical school shooter, the Chicago Sun-Times says:

• The shooters come from many types of families, from all incomes, from all races, from all academic backgrounds. No easy explanations—mental illness, drugs, video games—explain their actions. No profile rules anyone in or out.
• The shooters did not snap. These attacks were neither spontaneous nor impulsive. The shooters usually had chosen targets in advance: students, principals and teachers. This may give adults time to prevent an attack.
• Many of these children saw the killing as a way to solve a problem, such as to stop bullying by other children.
• The shooters told their friends of their grievances, and often told someone of the violence they planned. Those who knew in advance sometimes egged on the shooters, and rarely told any adult.
• The students had no trouble acquiring weapons, usually bringing them from home.

The Sun-Times interviewed 16-year old Luke Woodham, who killed his mother before killing two students and injuring seven others at his Mississippi high school. Woodham told the Sun-Times that no grown-up knew “how much hate” he had inside:

Q. What would it have taken for a grown-up to know?

A. Pay attention. Just sit down and talk with me.

Q. What advice do you have for adults?

A. I think they should try to bond more with their students. . . . Talk to them. . . . It doesn’t have to be about anything. Just have some kind of relationship with them.


  • AnonymousMufudquhh

    i wooldve poopt mehself if the shooter was in my sight or close to me .

  • Timothy Midgett

    There is one common denominator, most are on prozac or some other narcotic due to mental issues and depression because our “mental health” system drugs people instead of helping them.

    • TD1

      Exactly! I’ve been going around saying this for two days. Even if the drugs worked perfectly, who’d around to make sure they take them?
      We concentrate on drug prevention, AIDS prevention, all these “preventions”. Can’t we try some mental illness prevention? I realize some mental illneses are caused by actual physical brain abnormalities. But, are all of them? Let’s figure out why these people are acting the way they are acting. It is he common denominator. If we can make some progress in this area, it will go a lot longer than gun control.

  • Pickles123

    How does a shooter even get in the school with guns?1

  • Janice

    Why isn’t there newer data on this? The 2004 data–that’s so old considering how many shootings have happened since then. Even when this article was published that was ancient and unhelpful.

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