Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Melanie D. Otis


When school shootings occur in primary or secondary schools they draw a massive amount of media attention. Frequently, after the shooting stops, the media begins to prognosticate about the factors that led to the occurrence of the tragedy. However, there is a dearth of research examining those factors that are perpetuated by the media, as well as the factors that are most discussed in scholarly publications. Therefore, the aim of this research project was to explore the perpetration factors that have been perpetuated by the media, and compare those to the perpetration factors that are most frequently discussed by researchers.

The study posed three research questions, which explored the factors that were most discussed, the differences between print news sources and journal articles in regard to the factors they discussed, and the possible changes of factors through time. The exploration of these research questions was based in social constructionist thought, as the theory provided a framework for exploring how the findings may impact subsequent prevention of the phenomenon.

The study found that there were numerous factors discussed by the media and researchers, which broke down into school factors, cultural factors, individual factors, biological facts, and family factors. Through triangulation of available data the study also found that there were differences between the perpetration factors as they are discussed by the print news and scholars, as well as differences in discussion of factors through time. These differences indicate that prevention efforts may be hindered due to a faulty understanding of rampage school shootings, which is being perpetuated by the media. The findings also indicate several areas for future research to focus on, such as: exploration of other media formats, examining the constructs proposed by the research project, and exploring the methods that individuals involved with prevention determine the threat level of individuals who are viewed as posing a risk.