Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Kathleen M. Heide, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ráchael A. Powers, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lyndsay N. Boggess, Ph.D.


school shooting, media and crime, mass murder, juvenile offender, rarity theory


This study is a content analysis of news articles of school shooting incidents that occurred within the United States between 1997 and 2012. This paper was designed to (a) address the current profile of school shooting offenders and offenses, (b) assess a proposed typology of school shootings, (c) consider common case processing characteristics for offenders of school shootings incidents, and (d) address the potential for offender and offense characteristics to affect the amount of media coverage an incident receives. The database of “Major School Shootings in the United States Since 1997” by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence was used to compile a sample of 101 incidents in which a single offender committed a school shooting. To the extent possible, media accounts were used to corroborate details of each school shooting incident. Data pertaining to the offender characteristics, case processing characteristics, offense characteristics, characteristics regarding a typology, and media coverage characteristics were examined. The current profile and typology were, for the most part, upheld. Six variables proved to be significantly related to the total amount of media coverage an incident received: mental health history, school-related mass murder type, offender/victim type, total victims injured or killed, region of the U.S., and year of incident occurrence. Of these variables, three remained significant in a regression analysis: the school-related mass murder type, region of the U.S., and year of incident occurrence were predictive of the amount of media coverage an incident received. Implications and limitations of this study are discussed, and directions for future research are suggested.