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Does Pathological Shyness Make for School Shooters?
Date:8/18/2007

atrist with Scott & White Mental Health Center in Temple. "Right now, our ability to predict violence is not very good at all, so people overreact to a lot of things because of a fear of something happening. For years, we were under-reacting. It would be nice if psychologists could help us characterize who would be more likely to be a school shooter."

But it's important not to stigmatize shy kids, other experts emphasized.

"Shyness is not inherently a good or bad thing," said Heather Henderson, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Miami. "But one thing we know about shyness in boys, particularly in North America, they seem to be particularly at risk for maladaptive outcomes. We expect boys to be more outgoing and assertive. Boys are particularly sensitive and are exposed to cues from other people that shyness is not a good thing."

According to the study authors, there are a number of subtypes of shyness, cynical shyness being just one.

For the study, Carducci and a co-author examined news accounts and background information on seven high school shooting cases involving eight teen shooters between 1995 and 2004. Those individuals were:

  • Jeffrey Weise -- 16, killed seven people at Red Lake High School in Minnesota as well as his grandfather and grandfather's girlfriend in 2005;
  • Jamie Rouse -- 17, killed one student and one teacher at Richland High School in Tennessee in 1995;
  • Luke Woodham -- 17, killed two people at Pearl High School in Mississippi in 1997;
  • Barry Loukaitis -- 14, killed three at Frontier Junior High in Washington state in 1996;
  • Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold -- 18 and 17 years old, they killed 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999;
  • Michael Carneal -- 14, killed three girls at Heath High School in Kentucky in 1997;
  • Kip Kinkel -- 15, killed his parents and two classmates at T
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