Thursday, March 12, 2009

The New Map of School Shootings

The real world of school rampage killings is changing in the 21st century, and being imaged differently than in the past.

The Chinese News Service Xinhua has published a new graphic map showing their understanding of the landscape of school shootings. In the last decade, since Columbine, the focus for such visual aids has been on the USA and the shootings by students at their own schools. It is interesting to see the media attention being extended by international incidents and graphics such as this one from the Chinese.

Including old "rampages," such as the one in Scotland conducted by an adult outsider, reminds people of how the phenomenon can shift around, from outsiders, to the school's own youth as shooters, to outsiders again.

Furthermore, it is to be noted that American school shootings and suicides dominated between February 1996 (Moses Lake, Washington State) & February 1997 (Bethel, Alaska) through April 1999 (Columbine), up until March 2001 (two in California & one each in Pennsylvania and Indiana). Then they all grew quiet in the USA, right before and after 9/11. That is, for about two years.

School shootings became a re-ignited topic of media interest due to international incidents in February 2002 (Munich, Germany), April 2002 (Erfurt, Germany), April 2002 (Vlasenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina), and January 2003 (Taiuva, Brazil), before school shootings returned in earnest, in April 2003 to the USA.

Nowadays, the global school shooting events dot the world map, from towns in Finland to Fayettevilles in America.

The new Chinese map is a lesson in where the eyes outside of the USA are looking for this new history.

As I have noted before, while Asian school shootings are rare, the Orient does have outbreaks of Japanese and Chinese school stabbings. A significant school stabbing/slashing cluster occurred in five communities in China, between August and November of 2004.


Anonymous said...

Interesting what you say about Japan and China having school stabbings instead of shootings. I am unsure what gun ownership in those countries is like but it might be interesting to look at the regional "mass hysteria" (especially the culture-specific syndromes, as you pointed out previously Wendigo Psychosis may have been at play in at least one recent incident. For example I se hikikomori has been at the root of a number of incidents in Japan) and other odd crimes, as you may see a pattern repeating there.

For example, I have a feeling I've read about more piquerism attacks/mass hysteria from Japan then other countries and there have been "school beheadings" there (the name of the case escapes me but I'm sure you, or someone else, will).

It could be argued that resorting to edged weapons might be due to Japanese culture (beheadings and the wearing of swords were common in the military until the end of WWII), whereas we in the West are seeped in gun culture from the early gangster movies, through the war films to the modern gun-crazy flicks.

So it may be we see this expressed on a number of different levels. Of course, it shows how difficult it is to address this in major ways - although (fingers crossed) your work pointing out the issue may, eventually, have some impact, We surely can't keep going like this with people self-destructing in such devastating ways.

Anonymous said...

Guns are basically illegal in Japan. Only available on a black market or for licensed collectors. Thus, the lack of guns leads to stabbings.

Loren Coleman said...

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Anonymous said...

Loren, are there any countries where most of the youth attend school (one variable) and there's a large enough population that statistically, one would "expect" school stabbings or shootings (second variable), and yet where there haven't been any?

Or if there aren't countries, are there geographic regions?

If so, what would the common factors of those countries be, assuming that there are any?

Loren Coleman said...

Ann, good research questions, but you'd probably need some funding and long term grants to get them answered. Half the problem is that most people don't even want to take this all seriously enough to do research on any of the patterns.

The US Treasury Department-Secret Service is the only major organization who has looked at the variables to be discovered within school shootings, and those mostly were American.

This field of study is in its infancy.