American Journal of Criminal Justice

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 444–464 | Cite as

Studying School Shootings: Challenges and Considerations for Research

  • H. Jaymi ElsassEmail author
  • Jaclyn Schildkraut
  • Mark C. Stafford


Studying school shootings can be both a fruitful and challenging endeavor. The random nature of these events provides a number of challenges for studying this phenomenon. This paper explores these concerns as they relate to developing and implementing studies, as well as interpreting related findings by drawing on previous research that examined the effects of the 1999 Columbine High School, the 2007 Virginia Tech, and the 2008 Northern Illinois University shootings. Ways in which these issues may be overcome and, more generally, the research can be moved forward also are discussed.


School shootings Research methodologies Theoretical orientation Columbine 



The authors wish to thank the reviewers for their invaluable feedback on this manuscript. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology.


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Copyright information

© Southern Criminal Justice Association 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Jaymi Elsass
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jaclyn Schildkraut
    • 2
  • Mark C. Stafford
    • 1
  1. 1.Texas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA
  2. 2.State University of New York at OswegoOswegoUSA

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