Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings / Edition 1

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Overview

In the last decade, school shootings have decimated communities and terrified parents, teachers, and children in even the most “family friendly” American towns and suburbs. These tragedies appear to be the spontaneous acts of disconnected teens, but this important book argues that the roots of violence are deeply entwined in the communities themselves. Rampage challenges the “loner theory” of school violence and shows why so many adults and students miss the warning signs that could prevent it.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Newman's research team gave due weight to the familiar theories of what triggered these crimes -- all too ready access to guns in the home, excesses in youth-centered media, AWOL parents and community support systems -- but they ultimately found a more tangled, if less flashy, set of social dynamics behind the shootings. Far from marooning kids in a wasteland of anomie, Newman argues, the communities of Westside and Heath were too tightly knit. And the schools in particular -- which were, as in nearly all such incidents, the symbolic target of the shooters' wrath -- operated so as to avoid acknowledging the troubled and marginal boys who became vicious sociopaths seemingly overnight. — Chris Lehmann
Publishers Weekly
Despite the rarity of school shootings, a point carefully reiterated by the authors anthropologist Newman (No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City) and four students in a doctoral program she directs at Harvard University it continues to be a topic that both repels and fascinates. Through an in-depth study of two pre-Columbine shootings, one at Heath High School in Kentucky, the other at Westside Middle School in Arkansas, the authors attempt to answer two troubling questions: "How could these low-crime, family-centered, white communities have spawned such murderous violence? How did these particular families, known and respected by neighbors, teachers and preachers, produce rampage killers?" Because the book grew out of research the five contributed to a congressionally mandated study, the authors had extraordinary access to residents in both communities and are donating their royalties to the two schools. They interviewed 163 people whose lives were touched by the violent acts of 11-year-old Andrew Golden and 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson, who shot four students and one teacher at Westside, and 14-year-old Michael Carneal, who killed three students at Heath. Although many of the factors the authors address (e.g., bullying, media images of masculinity, teenage depression, access to guns) have already received extensive coverage, the authors' sociological approach highlights how these problems can ignite in a young child given suitable circumstances. Unfortunately, the book is marred by repetition and excessive charts, tables and footnotes; at times, it reads more like a joint doctoral dissertation than a study aimed at parents and school administrators. Photos. (Feb.) Forecast: Academic marketing; ads in Harper's, the American Scholar and the Chronicle Review; and tie-ins to Newman's lecture schedule could help this book reach teachers and sociologists. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In 1999 Congress issued a request for the study of the increasing rampage shootings in the nation's schools. Newman (urban studies, Harvard's Kennedy Sch. of Government; dean, Social Science, Radcliffe Inst.) was selected to perform the study and, along with four Harvard doctoral candidates, thoroughly examined two schools in rural areas of Arkansas and Kentucky that were subjected to lethal violence by juveniles. The objective was to learn what and who triggered the violence, why it was triggered, and what might be done to prevent future similar incidents. After conducting more than 100 interviews with parents, teachers, students, and others, they concluded that the three adolescent male shooters involved shared a belief that demonstrating strength by planned attacks on their respective institutions with (too) easily available guns would somehow mitigate their unbearable feelings of inadequacy as males and bring longed-for respect from peers. The study further reveals how family, school, and a tightly knit community failed to rescue these young men from their seriously troubled selves. Newman then suggests ways that readers might recognize signs of trouble and respond with preventive tactics. This well-written, well-documented study is highly recommended for parents, educators, and a concerned public.-Suzanne W. Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Alfred Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465051045
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 5/2/2005
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 424
  • Sales rank: 483,455
  • Product dimensions: 6.18 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Katherine S. Newman is the Malcolm Wiener Professor of Urban Studies at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and Dean of Social Science at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She lives in Newton, MA. Cybelle Fox is a doctoral candidate in the Sociology and Social Policy Program at Harvard University. David Harding is a doctoral candidate in the Sociology and Social Policy Program at Harvard University. Jal Mehta is a doctoral candidate in the Sociology and Social Policy Program at Harvard University. Wendy Roth is a doctoral candidate in the Sociology and Social Policy Program at Harvard University.

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Table of Contents

Preface
1 Explosions 3
2 The Shooters 22
3 Explaining Rampage School Shootings 47
4 Under the Radar 77
5 The Underbelly of Social Capital 111
6 The Stranglehold of Adolescent Culture 126
7 Why Kids Don't Tell 155
8 Blame and Forgiveness 179
9 Picking Up the Pieces 207
10 Testing the Theory 229
11 Prevention, Intervention, and Coping with School Shootings 271
Epilogue: What Became of the Shooters 299
App. A Data Table for Chapter 10 307
App. B Qualitative Research Design 319
App. C Quantitative Data and Methods 329
Notes 335
Index 389
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