Rampage is a sociological approach to outlining the causes, effects and preventative measures of school shootings in America. Chief author Katherine S. Newman explores in depth the commonalities of two specific instances- the first, in Paducah, Kentucky Michael Carneal, a freshman in highschool who brought guns to school and killed 3 people and left 7 wounded. The second, in Jonesboro, Arkansas Mitchell Johnson (13) and Andrew Golden (11) pulled a fire alarm and shot and killed 5 people while leaving 10 injured as the students and faculty exited the building. I found this reading very interesting because it takes a bold approach that up until now I had not seen discussed in the midst of school shootings. While the media does manage to cover some issues like bullying, mental health and gun control, from what I’ve seen they still barrage the shooters as ruthless killers and condemn them. This book helped to give me an understanding of why the shooters did what they did. Each student exhibited cries for help that were not taken seriously or just ignored all together. After reading this book I have come to believe that in a school shooting, everyone is a victim—including the shooter.
In chapter 10 I found it particularly interesting how the authors went in depth describing 5 factors that may lead to school shootings. 1. Marginality 2. Individual vulnerabilities 3. Cultural scripts 4. Under the Radar 5. Access to Guns.
“Take away one of these elements, and the shootings at Heath and Westside would not have happened.”(Newman P.229) This is a bold claim but I think it is pretty true. These 5 factors all culminate and leave the students feeling hopeless with no way out. Some students involved in school shootings were actually recognized to have issues before any shootings took place, but still slipped under the radar. Often the issues these students have are minimized by mental health professionals, teachers and family alike. When all of these factors build and feed off of each other it makes sense that they would end in a violent outburst. The reason I found these factors striking is because most of them are issues that hit pretty close to home for me, and if they hit close to home for me there are likely still many other children that feel the way I did. As a child I could identify with feelings of loneliness and marginalization. I had issues in my home that I didn’t share with my teachers and I had issues at school that I didn’t share with my