'It's Better to Overreact': School Officials' Fear and Perceived Risk of Rampage Attacks and the Criminalization of American Public Schools
In recent decades, highly-publicized school rampage attacks with multiple victims have caused widespread fear throughout the United States. Pulling from in-depth interviews with school officials (administrators, counselors, security and police officers, and teachers), this article discusses officials' perceptions of fear and risk regarding rampage shootings and how this relates to their justification for and acquiescence to the expansion of punitive discipline and increased security. Data collected in this study provide additional understanding of the causes of enhanced discipline and security from the perspective of those tasked with administering school safety in the wake of Columbine. Utilizing insight from moral panic theory, the findings suggest that, when the genuinely high potential cost of school massacres fused with an exaggerated perception of their likelihood and randomness, school rampage attacks came to be viewed as a risk that could not be tolerated and must be avoided at nearly any cost.
Madfis, Eric, "'It's Better to Overreact': School Officials' Fear and Perceived Risk of Rampage Attacks and the Criminalization of American Public Schools" (2015). Social Work Publications. 359.