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Though overall gun violence has plummeted since 1993, multi-victim school shootings have increased in frequency over the last fifty years and the number of adolescent perpetrators has more than doubled since 1996. I borrow from Kimmel and Mahler’s (2001) format to examine seven shootings that have occurred in the fifteen years since their paper’s original publication. I replicate their qualitative methodology and conduct my own analysis of these attacks. My findings suggest that these boys that open fire are mired in a history of routine, merciless bullying and that the content of the bullying is homophobic in nature. I also show that even in cases where the victim is not routinely subjected to homophobia, their masculinity has been somehow compromised. I propose that toxic masculinity—the notion that masculinity is something that can be constituted through violent action (Haider 2016)—influences the boys’ decisions to engage in mass violence. I also examine possible reasons as to why white boys perpetrate multi-victim school shootings more often than boys of other races, citing the inability of white boys to collectivize their feelings of cultural marginalization. The link between gender and mass violence is also explored, namely the inability of girls to constitute their own gender identity through violence in the way that is allowed to boys.
Marsden, Jack, "School Shootings: A Nexus of Adolescent Masculinity, Bullying, and Homophobia" (2018). Honors Theses. 2938.
Honors Thesis-Open Access