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WVU expert: media misses inter-personal violence, mass violence connection

Portrait of Walter DeKeseredy on blue background

Walter DeKeseredy, director of the Research Center on Violence at WVU.

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A sociologist suggests there is a "strong correlation" between threats to school shooters' masculinity and their mass killings. Walter DeKeseredy, director of the Research Center on Violence at West Virginia University, says media often misses-as it did in the case of Parkland, Florida-the connection between a history of inter-personal violence and mass shootings.

Dr. Walter S. DeKeseredy
Anna Deane Carlson Endowed Chair of Social Sciences
Director of the Research Center on Violence, and Professor of Sociology
WVU Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology

“What is missing in the mainstream media's account of the killings is the killer's history of woman abuse and he was expelled from the school for having a fight with his ex-girlfriend's boyfriend. Indeed, research shows that there is a strong correlation between threats to school shooters' masculine status and their mass killings.” 

Walter DeKeresedy audio file

Contact information: 304.293.8846;

Lawrence Nichols
Professor of Sociology and Anthropology
WVU Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

"Based on the information that has emerged thus far, I would say the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, is not an act of terrorism, which requires the key feature of orientation toward two related targets, using the first (direct) to strike at the second (indirect), which is 'the real target.' Terrorism is thus a message crime, a violent form of communication. The attack in Florida seems not to have been aimed at two targets, but only one. However, it does have some similarities to terrorist events. One is that such shootings are "the weapon of the weak." Terrorist groups are much smaller than national armies, and they could not take the field of battle against a nation's military. Now, as has often been reported in mass media, many school shooters feel relatively powerless, whether as a result of bullying by dominant students, or because they perceive themselves as lacking social skills or as being unattractive or unathletic, for example. They are not, in other words, stereotypical alpha males, but are vulnerable, and they may dwell on past injuries or be unable to get beyond traumatic events such as bullying.

Contact information: 304.293.5801;

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