Monday, May 07, 2007

An Anniversary Largely Unmarked .....

Among the many reports that filled the media in the wake of the shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech's campus, was one noting that this seemed to be the time of year for such tragedies, these senseless and deadly rampages, to occur .....

Perhaps ..... there DO seem to be a lot of tragic events such as these during a roughly two-month period, early in the year .....

Jonesboro School Shootings - March 24, 1998
Virginia Tech Shootings - April 16, 2007
Oklahoma City Bombing - April 19, 1995
Columbine School Shootings - April 20, 1999
MOVE/Philadelphia Siege - May 15, 1985
SLA/Los Angeles Siege - May 17, 1975

But, on the other hand .....

Stockton School Shooting - January 17, 1989
Branch Davidians/Waco Siege - February 28, 1993
UT Tower Shootings - August 1, 1966
Ruby Ridge - August 21, 1992
World Trade Center - September 11, 2001
Amish School Shooting - October 2, 2006

I suspect that a more thorough, systematic analysis of such events - and I've listed only a few, here - would probably NOT find a correlation to the calendar that is statistically significant .....

But I do have one to add to that first list, it began in the last month of April, and ended in the first week of May ..... and it took place, quite literally, in our own back yard - the standoff between the Republic of Texas, and State of Texas law enforcement, at the ROT 'compound' in the Davis Mountains Resort.

And it was all going on ten years ago, today. I pitched the idea at a news story meeting, a couple weeks back, at KWES-TV ..... nada.

However, Bob Campbell, at the Midland Reporter Telegram, did produce this fine article, well worth taking the time to read it. I also strongly recommend listening to the accompanying audio ..... it's not very good quality, but it does give some feel for interviewing someone like Richard McLaren - which can be a genuinely weird experience ..... I did it, myself, when I was editor of the Fort Stockton Pioneer, and Big Bend stringer for KWES-TV, and he was still an ROT Ambassador.

More on all this, later .....


Loren Coleman said...

With regard to this:

"I suspect that a more thorough, systematic analysis of such events - and I've listed only a few, here - would probably NOT find a correlation to the calendar that is statistically significant ....."

Actually it has been done, and is contained in The Copycat Effect (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2004), and the blogs I have written on this topic of timing.

In terms of the "on the other hand" list you post, only half of those are marginally related to schools, and only one of those happened during the post-1996 modern pattern that has developed. In terms of school shootings, there are two peaks - one in the fall and another in the spring for this form of community violence.

It is not a simple issue, and good statistical studies are keyed to "type" of violence being analyzed.

The research on the temporal factor has been undertaken for the last thirty years. Specifically tracking the "modern era" of school shootings demonstrates the new apex for school violence is most certainly late March through late May. The week near the anniversaries of VA Tech and Columbine are now the "hottest dates."

You may wish to get a copy of The Copycat Effect from your library, get it via an interlibrary loan, or order a copy online, and read all the research and correlations to be found in that book.

Also, here are some short essays with passages related to this topic:

"School Shooting Seasons"

"Copycat Quotes"

"Columbine & VA Tech"

With all due respect,
Loren Coleman

Jeff said...

Loren, thanks for stopping in!

The points you make ARE valid, IF one focuses soley upon school shootings ..... which I do not.

If we were to focus soley upon school shootings ..... peaks for the fall and the spring shouldn't surprise us ..... those are the same peaks for just about any school activity, or school attendendance, period .....

Another problem with focusing soley upon school shootings is, how narrowly do we define that group ..... those few that I listed in my sampling were acts of violence against students/teachers by fellow students or outsiders ..... should that same group include the 1970s shootings at Kent State and Jackson State where students were killed in confrontations with the authorities? .....

But I do not confine myself soley to school shootings, and I stand by my original assertion .....

Thanks for your contributions, though ..... perhaps the spread of ideas, data and discussion points might serve to reduce these occurrences in the future ..... AND THAT, I THINK, IS SOMETHING ABOUT WHICH YOU AND I COULD AGREE .....

With all due respect to YOU, too,

That Janie Girl said...

The article in the MRT was good...I thought it unfortunate that it totally eclipsed the West Texas Salute the Troops coverage, though.