There are two types of violence in schools: impulsive and targeted. But, only one of them typically ends up on the evening news.
Targeted violence is premeditated and planned over a period of time. Because of the planning and preparation that precede it, this type of violence is considered to be predatory in nature. This is the one that stops us in our tracks when we see it on the news.
Impulsive violence is reactive and may seem to come out of nowhere, or it can be a nearly predictable result of ongoing conflict.
Differences between the two types of violence:
A pioneering study found distinct differences between impulsive and predatory violence, when that violence results in death. Here are some of the findings that can help increase our own awareness:
- Compared to impulsive murderers, predatory/premeditated murderers are nearly twice as likely to have a history of mood disorders or psychotic disorders — 61 percent versus 34 percent.
- Compared to predatory/premeditated murderers, impulsive murderers are more likely to be developmentally disabled and have cognitive and intellectual impairments — 59 percent versus 36 percent.
- Over 90% of the impulsive murderers in this study had a history of alcohol or drug abuse and/or were intoxicated at the time of the crime — 93 percent versus 76 percent of those whose crimes were premeditated.
In schools, we need to be alert for both types of violence. We must pay attention to individuals and specific actions. Only then can we dig deep enough to assess a person’s mindset, coping skills, stressors, and intent to harm others so we can contain and manage the situation before violence takes place. To learn more about this process, see this.
For more on preventing targeted school violence, click here.