Near-School Shooting Victimizations in a Major Urban Setting
The Issue: Since the occurrence of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of 2012, which killed 20 first graders and six adults, the United States has experienced at least 15 additional mass shootings in schools that have killed or injured over 400 people. In 2017 alone, however, the City of Philadelphia experienced 238 shooting victimizations within one block of its 48 public high schools. While mass school shooting events are devastating in their own right, the daily shootings around schools in American urban areas claim far more lives, while attracting virtually no national attention.
The Research: This study sheds light on the phenomenon of near-school shooting victimizations using Philadelphia as a case study. It conceptualizes public middle and high schools as routine activity nodes that may attract shooting events in higher densities than in other public locations due to the potential confluence of motivated offenders and suitable targets. The study also integrates Anderson's "code of the street" theorizing by comparing shooting densities around schools located in high-violence/high-disadvantage communities to those located in low-violence/low-disadvantage communities.
Current Findings: Shooting densities within a one-block radius of middle and high schools in high-violence/high-disadvantage communities are 4.55 times higher than across those high-high communities more generally; and the shooting densities decay markedly at two and three blocks out, respectively. Shooting densities around schools in low-violence/low-disadvantage communities are at their highest (i.e., 2.08 times higher) at two blocks away, suggesting a somewhat different underlying process than in the high-violence/high-disadvantage communities. The study reports additional comparisons and discusses theoretical, policy, and practice implications of the research.
Dissemination Plan: I am currently in the process of writing up the results of this study and plan to send a completed manuscript to a scholarly journal at some point during Spring 2019. As a result of editing and revising, the findings may change somewhat as I incorporate comments and criticisms from colleagues and peer reviewers. In other words: Everything here is subject to change.