The inherent limits of predicting school violence

Am Psychol. 2001 Oct;56(10):797-802. doi: 10.1037//0003-066x.56.10.797.


The recent media hype over school shootings has led to demands for methods of identifying school shooters before they act. Despite the fact that schools remain one of the safest places for youths to be, schools are beginning to adopt identification systems to determine which students could be future killers. The methods used to accomplish this not only are unproven but are inherently limited in usefulness and often do more harm than good for both the children and the school setting. The authors' goals in the present article are to place school shootings in perspective relative to other risks of violence that children face and to provide a reasonable and scientifically defensible approach to improving the safety of schools.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Homicide / prevention & control*
  • Homicide / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Assessment
  • Risk Assessment
  • Schools
  • Students / psychology*
  • Violence / prevention & control*
  • Violence / psychology