The Roles of Morality Development and Personal Power in Mass School Shootings

  • Ken Kyle
  • Stephen Thompson

Much as many Americans today speak of a pre- and post-9/11 political world, some speak of a pre- and post-Columbine world of education. As a number of K-12 educators, academicians, and journalists suggest (e.g., McKenna & Haselkorn, 2005; cf. Martinson, 2000; Lawrence & Birkland, 2004), Columbine and the other well-publicized mass school shootings (and attempted school shootings) that occurred during the 1990s have coalesced in the public mind, becoming a watershed event. Media coverage was wide-ranging and intense, and as Hancock (2001) points out, much of it was presented out of context (for examples of media coverage, see links provided at, 2001; cf. Moore, 2003). As one prominent example, the March 19, 2001, cover of Time magazine proclaimed, “The Columbine Effect” and offered stories on “Inside the Mind of the California Killer,” “Confronting the Classroom Code of Silence,” and “Why Some Kids Snap–and Others Don’t” (cf. Gibbs, 2001). Indeed, Pam Riley, executive director of the Center for the Prevention of School Violence, publicly described Columbine as “the ‘Pearl Harbor’ of school violence” (see Dunne, 2000). This, despite the fact that statistically schools are safer than homes and neighborhoods in terms of likelihood of children experiencing violence.


Prosocial Behavior Moral Reasoning Moral Development Moral Intensity Proactive Aggression 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ken Kyle
    • 1
  • Stephen Thompson
    • 2
  1. 1.Public Affairs and AdministrationCalifornia State UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyMessiah College in GranthamUSA

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