The Risk of School Rampage: Assessing and Preventing Threats of School Violence
The Risk of School Rampage
Author(s) Eric Madfis
Published 2014
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Country United States
Pages 183
ISBN 9781137401656

The Risk of School Rampage: Assessing and Preventing Threats of School Violence is a book by Eric Madfis, published by Palgrave Macmillan, New York, in 2014.


Deadly school rampage shootings continue to plague society and inspire widespread fear, yet scant attention has been paid to averted incidents. Utilizing in-depth interviews conducted with officials directly involved in averting potential school rampages, this book explores the processes by which threats are assessed and school rampage plots are averted. By examining these averted incidents, this work addresses problematic gaps in school violence scholarship and advances existing knowledge about mass murder, violence prevention, bystander intervention, threat assessment, and disciplinary policy in school contexts.

Table of contentsEdit

Chapter Page
Preface viii
1 – Introduction 1
Research questions and background information on averted school rampage incidents 2
Explaining and reacting to school rampage 6
School rampage as a social problem 6
The causes of school rampage 7
Averted school rampage 8
Responding to rampage – current school disciplinary and security practices 11
Responding to rampage – violence risk assessment 13
Understanding school criminalization and risk assessment as actuarial justice 18
2 – Assessing the Substance and Risk of Student Rampage Threats 23
Distinguishing threats, risks, plots, and genuine aversion 26
Examining the form and content of threats in averted rampage violence 27
Examining the levels of risk in averted rampage violence 29
Examining plots and planning in averted rampage violence 31
Examining the notion of aversion in rampage violence 31
The assessment of evidence in averted rampage violence 31
Assessing the plot's detail 32
Appraising the role of weaponry 38
Assessing the role of personal and group characteristics 43
Conclusion 54
3 – Confidence and Doubts about Assessing Averted Rampage Violence 56
Variations in confidence and doubt by risk assessment type 57
Certainty based on a convergence of risk assessment criteria 58
Certainty based on lack of threat assessment criteria 59
Certainty based on threat assessment criteria in spite of deviation from profiles 68
Remaining uncertainty despite risk assessment 63
Conclusion 65
4 – Preventing School Rampage Violence through Student Bystander Intervention and Positive School Environments 69
School rampage violence prevention and the student code of silence 70
Perceiving a diminished student code of silence since Columbine 74
Weakening the code of silence through positive school climate 75
Breaking the code of silence – interventions through leakage 78
Indirectly informed bystanders 78
Directly informed confidants 79
Threatened targets 80
Involved co-conspirators 80
How interventions occurred and who was trusted 83
Following the code of silence – the persistence of bystander inaction 84
Implications of findings 87
Conclusion 90
5 – Summary of Findings, Policy Implications, and Future Research 95
Summary and implications of findings 96
Suggested areas for future research 100
6 – Methodological Appendix 104
Operationalizing school ramapge and averted threat 105
Research design and sample 108
Complications of relying on the news media to build a sampling frame 113
On qualitative methodology 114
Generalizability in qualitative research 115
References 117
Index 140
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