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Palgrave Macmillan
Book cover

How to Stop School Rampage Killing

Lessons from Averted Mass Shootings and Bombings

  • Book
  • © 2020


  • Includes forewords from Kristina Anderson and Jack Levin
  • Includes the newest research relating to mass shootings including on: restorative discipline, bystander behavior and threat assessment, patterns of school shootings, the role of gender in averted incidents, and the role of the media in lessening the copycat effect
  • Examines averted school rampages across the Northeastern United States, and the recent non-averted shootings in Florida and Texas, and discusses policy developments
  • Draws on in-depth data and interviews with school and police officials (administrators, counselors, security and police officers, and teachers) who were directly involved in preventing these shootings
  • Explores how these kinds of attacks can be effectively prevented, and what factors and policies make these events more likely to occur
  • Offers insight into what policies and practices are actually dangerously counter-productive

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Table of contents (6 chapters)


About this book

This book tackles the important question of how we can understand and learn from the school rampage killings that have been prevented.  In the flood of recent accounts and analyses of deadly school rampage killings that plague society and inspire widespread public fear, very little attention has been given to the incidents that almost were.  Building on Madfis’ previous book, The Risk of School Rampage: Assessing and Preventing Threats of School Violence (2014), this vital work addresses key gaps in school violence scholarship through the examination of averted school rampage incidents in the United States and advances existing knowledge through ground-breaking insights from the latest research on mass murder, violence prevention, bystander intervention, disciplinary policy, and threat assessment in school contexts. This empirical study utilizes in-depth interviews conducted with school and police officials (administrators, counselors, security guards, police officers, and teachers) directly involved in averting potential school rampages to explore the processes by which threats are assessed and school rampage plots are thwarted. Madfis finds that many common contemporary school violence prevention policies and practices are ineffective at preventing rampage attacks and may actually increase the likelihood of their occurrence.  Rather than uncritically adopting such problematic approaches, Madfis argues that schools must model prevention practices upon what has proven successful in averting potentially deadly incidents.



“In addition to making an important contribution to the scholarly literature on the topic, the inclusion of discussion questions … as well as a methodological appendix, makes this book a useful resource for students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. … How to Stop School Rampage Killing: Lessons from Averted Mass Shootings and Bombings is a timely and valuable piece of scholarship … it acts as a springboard for future research in this area.” (Erica Bower, Critical Criminology, Vol. 29, 2021)

How to Stop School Rampage Killing makes a major contribution to our understanding of how school violence schemes are developed and provides insight about core recurring themes in the planning of rampage violence across a range of cases. This book provides a rich source for anyone interested in how school violence in general and rampage school violence in particular unfolds. Dr. Madfis is masterful at telling the story through the words of his subjects while remaining analytical and never losing sight of the key issues facing schools” (Stuart Henry, Professor of Criminal Justice and Director of the School of Public Affairs at San Diego State University, USA)

“On the subject of assessing and preventing acts of extreme violence in schools, this book sets the standard as the forefront of rigorous knowledge. In a topic that often abounds with hype and emotion, no other volume presents such a steadfastly researched, sober discussion of what effectively prevents and thwarts school rampages. This book is essential reading for anyone with the desire to understand evenhanded social scientific perspectives on the risks and prevention of school rampages” (Glenn W. Muschert, Professor of Sociology at Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)

“How can you stop a student armed with firearms, explosives, and murderous intent – before he ever sets foot on campus? Madfis skillfully answers this question and more, based on his interviews with principals, teachers, counselors, and police officers who have successfully prevented nearly a dozen school shootings since Columbine” (Adam Lankford, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Alabama, USA)

“This important book by Dr. Madfis provides an updated and in-depth perspective on school shootings and ways to prevent them” (Atte Oksanen, Professor of Social Psychology, Tampere University, Finland)

Authors and Affiliations

  • School of Social Work and Criminal Justice, University of Washington Tacoma, Tacoma, USA

    Eric Madfis

About the author

Eric Madfis is Associate Professor in the School of Social Work and Criminal Justice at the University of Washington Tacoma, USA. His research focuses on the causes and prevention of school violence, hate crime, and mass murder.  His work has been published in academic journals across a range of disciplines and featured in national and international media outlets. In 2019, the Washington State Legislature utilized his research on the prevention of mass school shootings to inform the passage of a legislative mandate implementing non-biased threat assessment procedures in public schools across Washington state.


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