A school shooting is an attack at an educational institution, such as a primary school, secondary school, or university, involving the use of firearms. Many school shootings are categorized as mass shootings because of the number of casualties. The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines a mass murder (can be used for mass shooting) as “four or more murdered during an event with no ‘cooling-off period’ between murders.”
Factors being school shootings include lack of family supervision, family dysfunction, mental illness, or psychological problems. The top motives of attackers were bullying/persecution/threatened and revenge. Other motives include suicide and depression and seeking attention or recognition.
The United States is no stranger to school shootings and the country has a long history of school shootings, both small and mass shootings. On April 20, 1999, two students opened fire at Columbine High School, killing 12 students and one teacher. In the two decades following the Columbine shooting, there have been 11 mass school shootings and many other smaller ones. John Cohen, a former Department of Homeland Security official, stated that Columbine has “absolutely” influenced subsequent shootings. Among the mass shootings since Columbine are Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and Parkland. Virginia Tech is the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.
While school shootings are considered to be a “uniquely American crisis,” this isn’t exactly true. Countries all over the world experience school shootings.
Countries may have incorrect or inaccurate information or reporting of school shootings. Below are the recorded school shootings in different countries around the world. Information may be missing and does not include non-school mass shootings.
Since 1991, Australia has experienced six school shootings. Two of these shootings, La Trobe University and Monash University, had one and two deaths respectively. The other four shootings did not have any deaths. The most recent school shooting in Australia was at Modbury High School in Adelaide on May 7, 2012, which resulted in no deaths and no injuries.
Brazil has had five school shootings since 2001, resulting in a total of 30 deaths. The deadliest of these shootings was the Realengo massacre when a former student killed 12 students inside the school before killing himself. One of the five shooting, the Medaneira School shooting, did not have any deaths.
Canada has had a total of 19 school shootings between 1884 and 2016. The deadliest of these shooting was the Ecole Polytechnique massacre in Montreal, which resulted in 15 deaths including the perpetrator. Several of the Canadian school shootings have resulted in zero or one death, including the 1884 shooting where only the perpetrator died.
Between 1999 and 2011, China had four school shootings resulting in four deaths, two of which were the perpetrators.
European countries have had their share of school shootings, although not as frequently as in the United States or Canada.
- Germany: eight shootings since 1913
- Lithuania: one in 1925
- Sweden: one in 1961
- United Kingdom: three since 1967 and none after the 1996 massacre
- Finland: three since 1989
- The Netherlands: two, in 1999 and 2004
- Denmark: one in 1994
- Greece: one in 2009
- Norway: one in 2009 (no deaths)
- Hungary: one in 2009
- France: two, one in 2012 and one in 2017
- Estonia: one in 2014
- Spain: one in 2015
- Russia: three since 2014
- Crimea: one in 2018
- Poland: one in 2019 (no deaths)
Gun violence in Central American countries is extremely common. In Honduras, the homicide rate is 10 times the global average. Because of heavily armed gangs in Honduras, school shootings “are so common, they are subsumed quickly into the country's news cycle and barely register outside its borders.”.
Mexico has had 17 reported school shootings since 2004. All of these incidents have resulted in zero to two deaths each. In each of the three shootings that had two deaths, one was the perpetrator.
South Africa has experienced five school shootings since 1994, resulting in eight deaths in total.
Excluding China, several Asian nations have experienced school shootings.
- Taiwan: one in 1962
- Israel: two, one in 1974 and one in 2008
- Yemen: one in 1997
- Philippines: one in 1999
- Thailand: one in 2003
- Lebanon: one n 2007
- India: one in 2007
- Azerbaijan: one in 2009
- Pakistan: one in 2014 that killed 145 - the deadliest school shooting in Asia