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Last Updated: 01/15/2018

 Article of Interest - School Climate

Deadly Lessons: School Shooters Tell Why
by Bill Dedman, Chicago Sun Times, November 2002
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In their own words, the boys who have killed in America's schools offer a simple suggestion to prevent it from happening again: Listen to us.

"I told everyone what I was going to do," said Evan Ramsey, 16, who killed his principal and a student in remote Bethel, Alaska, in 1997. He told so many students about his hit list that his friends crowded the library balcony to watch. One boy brought a camera. "You're not supposed to be up here," one girl told another. "You're on the list."

Researchers from the Secret Service have completed a detailed analysis of 37 school shootings. They reviewed case files and interviewed 10 of the shooters. The Secret Service shared the results of its Safe School Initiative with the Chicago Sun-Times.

As it turns out, kids at school usually knew what would happen because the shooters had told them, but the bystanders didn't warn anyone. That disturbing pattern gives hope: If kids plan, there is time to intervene. If kids tell, teachers or parents might be able to learn what a student is planning--if they take time to ask.

Together, the school shooters make a diverse class portrait. They are white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Native Alaskan. They were in public schools and Christian schools. Few had a mental illness, although many were desperate and depressed.

The shooters do share one characteristic: They are all boys.

As a Secret Service consultant says, "If every parent went away from this, not worrying that their boy is going to kill someone, but listening and paying attention to depression, we'd be better off."

Deadly Lessons: Part I

(visit for lesson content)
Examining the psyche of an adolescent killer
Listening tips can help boys open up
Case studies: Secret service findings
Bullying, tormenting often led to revenge in cases studied
Thoughts, poetry scream of violence, despair
Deadly Lessons: Part II

(visit for lesson content)
Violence prevention methods may not help
Shooters usually tell their friends what they are planning

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