Document Type : Research paper


1 1) School of Biomedical Sciences, Kent State University, Kent, OH, USA 2) Department of Neurosciences, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, USA

2 Department of Psychiatry, University of Missouri Kansas City, Kansas City, MO, USA

3 University of Missouri Kansas City, Kansas City, MO, USA

4 Pavlov First State Medical University of St. Petersburg, Russia

5 Medicine and Surgery, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Indore, India

6 School of Behavioral Sciences, California Southern University, Costa Mesa, CA, USA


Objectives: School shootings were once considered a uniquely American phenomenon. However, over the last decade, the incidence of these violent attacks has spiked around the globe. In particular, recent reports from Russia have demonstrated a worrying increase in the number of school shootings despite efforts to implement policies to prevent them. The aims of this report are (1) to discuss the genesis of school mass murders in the context of cumulative strain theory, and (2) to analyze the scope of the problem in the U.S. vs. Russia.

Methods: We used the five-stage cumulative strain theory to analyse the factors contributing to school shootings using two case studies from each country. We gathered information and evidence from a variety of sources including interview transcripts, statistical data, journal articles, reviews, and other secondary sources published in Russian and English.

Results: Our analysis revealed some common features among the school shooters in Russia and the US, such as the self-perception of superiority, vindictiveness and a lack of social support, including challenging relationships with parents and peers. However, the American shooters displayed a readiness for encounters with and possible firearm use against law enforcement officers during the mass murders. We further found that auto-aggressive behaviours were prevalent in the attacks that occurred in Russia in particular. Unlike those from the US, the reports from Russia pointed towards an association between cumulative economic hardships and various behavioural outcomes ranging from poor psychological health to severe behavioural outbursts and violent behaviours.

We believe that the cult of weapons and militarism increase the risk of school shootings in both countries. Neither a single stage of CST nor all five stages together can predict or confirm the association with mass shootings.


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