+1(978)310-4246 credencewriters@gmail.com
  

Chose

ONE journal article from the selected five attached to the assignment

. (Attached to assignment when you click on the assignment link.)

3) Using the attached file

(Analyzing a Journal Article),

complete each section of the worksheet based on your chosen journal article. Do not copy and paste straight from the journal article.

Analyzing a Journal Article
Article title:
Step 1: What is the objective of this study?
a. Write down the exact statement in which the authors describe
what they were testing. This may be provided as a purpose statement
or a hypothesis. Include quotation marks around the exact wording
and indicate page number(s).
b. Describe the purpose of the study, as you understand it, in your
own words.
c. What is the gap in the previous research that the authors are trying
to fill by conducting this study?
Step 2: What are the major findings of the study?
a. What are the authors’ major conclusions or findings? Include
quotation marks if using exact wording, and indicate page number(s).
b. Write those conclusions, as you understand them, in your own
words.
Step 3: How did the authors test their hypothesis?
a. Briefly summarize the main steps or measurements that the
authors used in their methods. May include type of study (survey,
observation, etc.), how, where and when data was gathered, study
population.
b. How did the authors analyze their data? What test(s) did they use?
Step 4: How reliable are the results?
a. Do the authors suggest any problems or limitations with their
methodology? Do you see any problems or limitations with their
methodology?
b. Do the conclusions made by the author make sense to you? Are the
conclusions too broad or too narrow based on what was actually done
in the study?
Step 5: What is the importance of this research study?
a. Write (in your own words) the significant contributions of the
research in this article as reported by the authors.
b. What are the implications of the study for the way we think about
the topic?
Step 6: How does this study relate to other research in this field?
a. What prior research do the authors discuss? Look at the reference
list. What are the topic/themes of the resources cited?
b. What are the next steps or future directions for this research as
described by the authors?
c. What questions about this topic do you have after reading this
article?
Adapted from
• Student Worksheet: Analyzing a Journal Article. https://www.lib.uoguelph.ca/sites/default/files/student_worksheet.pdf. University of Guelph. 2013
• Information Literacy Toolkit: How to Read a Scholarly Journal Article. https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/signaturecourses/resources/how-read-scholarlyarticle. University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas Libraries. 2013.
See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/348189803
Moral Panic, Fear of Crime, and School Shootings: Does
Location Matter?
Article in Sociological Inquiry · May 2021
DOI: 10.1111/soin.12407
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Moral Panic, Fear of Crime, and School Shootings: Does
Location Matter?
H. Jaymi Elsass, Texas State University
Jaclyn Schildkraut, State University of New York at Oswego
Ross Haenfler, Grinnell College
Brian V. Klocke, Independent Consultant
Eric Madfis, University of Washington Tacoma
Glenn W. Muschert, Khalifa University of Science and Technology
The concept of moral panic has been used to describe how society reacts to different threats, either real or perceived. Although most studies in this area rely on qualitative, historical data, recent efforts have employed quantitative applications of an
attributional model to understand attitudes consistent with different characteristics of
moral panic. The present study utilizes this model along with survey data from college
students across the five U.S. regions to examine how perceptions of school shootings as
a moral panic vary by location. The findings reveal significant differences by location,
with students in the Southwest and West less likely than other regions to express hostile
attitudes about the shootings or believe they are happening at disproportional rates.
Southwestern students also were most likely to express concern related to defense (gun
rights), whereas individuals in the Northeast were least likely to. Broader considerations
for these and other findings also are discussed.
Introduction
Mass shootings, particularly those that occur in schools, continue to be a
cause for public concern, especially when punctuated by incidents that receive
considerable media attention, like the 2018 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. With each breaking news story, fear and
apprehension over school shootings in America are renewed. Parents fear sending their children to school, and students worry that a similar attack could take
place at their educational institution (Graf 2018). Such violence, however, is
not limited to primary and secondary schools. Institutions of higher education,
including the University of Texas at Austin (1966), Virginia Tech (2007),
Northern Illinois University (2008), and, more recently, the University of North
Carolina Charlotte (2019), also have experienced such attacks.
The manner and frequency in which school shootings are presented by
and through the media have made these events appear almost epidemic (Fox
Sociological Inquiry, Vol. 91, No. 2, May 2021, 426–454
© 2021 Alpha Kappa Delta: The International Sociology Honor Society
DOI: 10.1111/soin.12407
MORAL PANIC, SCHOOL SHOOTINGS, AND FEAR OF CRIME
427
and DeLateur 2014; Muschert 2007a; Muschert and Ragnedda 2010; Newman
2006). In reality, schools remain among the safest places for children (Fox and
Friedel 2018) and events like school shootings are statistically rare in the context of the broader U.S. crime picture (Schildkraut, Formica, and Malatras
2018b; Schildkraut and Elsass 2016). Despite this contrary evidence, however,
the fear and subsequent responses generated in the wake of mass shootings in
schools have led some researchers (Burns and Crawford 1999; Madfis 2016;
Springhall 1999) to liken the reactions surrounding this phenomenon to a moral
panic.
A term coined by Young (1971) and Cohen (1972), moral panic occurs
when responses to a perceived threat are disproportionate to its actual existence
(Hall et al. 1978). In the context of school shootings, such responses have
included increased security in schools that has created a nearly $3 billion per
year product market and routine discourse on hot-button issues including gun
control, mental health, and violent media (see, generally, Schildkraut, Elsass,
and Muschert 2016; Schildkraut and Muschert 2013, 2019). Beyond school
shootings, other perceived social threats—including juvenile deviance and
crime (Cohen 1972; Hay 1995; Welch, Price, and Yankey 2002), gangs
(McCorkle and Miethe 1998; Zatz 1987), drugs (Hier 2002), and terrorism
(Rothe and Muzzatti 2004)—also have been considered through the lens of
moral panic.
In examining these and other issues, researchers typically rely on historical, qualitative data to better understand their impacts on society. Subsequently,
Goode and Ben-Yehuda (1994a, 1994b) introduced an attributional model—
emphasizing concern, hostility, consensus, disproportionality, and volatility—
that has become a framework for other scholars in this area (see also Critcher
2008; Klocke and Muschert 2010; Krinsky 2013). Schildkraut, Elsass, and Stafford (2015) extended this body of research by quantitatively applying Goode
and Ben-Yehuda’s model to examine college students’ perceptions of school
shootings. At the same time, their study allowed for examination of individuallevel responses to a macro-level collective phenomenon (Schildkraut et al.
2015).
Still, despite such advances, additional opportunities to expand this
research exist. Newman and Hartman (2019), for example, have called for spatial examinations of the impact of mass and school shootings on public attitudes. To date, however, virtually no research has considered the relationship
between location and perceptions about these events, either broadly or within
the context of moral panic theory. Accordingly, the present study seeks to
determine whether such a relationship exists. In this paper, we utilize data collected at five universities from different regions of the United States. Respondents were asked about their beliefs related to school shootings that were
428
H. JAYMI ELSASS ET AL.
consistent with the five attributes of Goode and Ben-Yehuda’s (1994a, 1994b)
model, as well as questions related to their fear of crime and perceived risk of
victimization (see also Schildkraut et al. 2015). Based upon previous research
(e.g., Althaus, Cizmar, and Gimpel 2009; Dor e, Ort, Braverman, and Ochsner
2015; Lemiuex 2014), we hypothesized that perceptions of school shootings as
a moral panic would differ based on the location of the respondents.
Review of the Literature
Moral Panics
According to Cohen (1972), who typically is credited with the development of the concept, moral panic can be described as:
A condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to
societal values and interests; its nature is presented in a stylized and stereotypical fashion by
the mass media; the moral barricades are manned by editors, bishops, politicians, and other
right-thinking people; socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions;
ways of coping are evolved or (more often) resorted to; the condition then disappears, submerges, or deteriorates. (p. 9).
The corresponding responses offered by officials, including politicians and
pundits, are what actually are indicative of a moral panic and typically are out
of proportion with the actual threat (Hall et al. 1978). Such responses typically
are harsher when the person, group, or event is perceived to be a greater threat
to society (Hall et al. 1978). In other words, “objective molehills have been
made into subjective mountains” (Jones, McFalls, and Gallagher 1989:341),
and it is these contexts from which perceived threats, through the lens of a
moral panic, acquire their meaning (Krinsky 2013).
To supplement Cohen’s (1972) processual model, Goode and Ben-Yehuda
(1994a, 1994b) highlighted five attributes to provide a comprehensive framework through which to understand the characteristics typical of many moral
panics (see also Critcher 2008; Klocke and Muschert 2010; Krinsky 2013). The
first of these attributes is concern, which is indicative of a heightened or intensified anxiety level over a perceived social threat (Goode and Ben-Yehuda
1994a, 1994b). The manifestation of an “us-versus-them” mentality is exemplary of hostility that accompanies a moral panic (Burns and Crawford 1999;
Cohen 1972; Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a, 1994b). Consensus occurs when
there is broad agreement about the existence of a threat and its potential to
cause harm; when public concern of the threat exceeds its actual occurrence,
the panic has become disproportional (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a, 1994b;
see also Miller 2013). Finally, volatility occurs when the panic, which suddenly
erupts, disappears as abruptly (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a, 1994b); this also
MORAL PANIC, SCHOOL SHOOTINGS, AND FEAR OF CRIME
429
may be assessed based on how long a perceived threat remains part of the public discourse (see, generally, Downs 1972; McCombs and Zhu 1995).
School Shootings as a Moral Panic
Following the shooting at Columbine High School, Burns and Crawford
(1999) applied Goode and Ben-Yehuda’s attributional model to highlight the
attack’s contribution to the national panic over school shootings (see also
Springhall 1999). Such examination was particularly relevant as Columbine is
considered by many to be a watershed moment (Schildkraut and Muschert
2019). At the same time, the amount of attention that Columbine received in
the media and by the public, both in the immediate aftermath and even
20 years after the attack, cemented it as a “cultural legacy,” which is a form of
a moral panic that can be sustained over time (Goode and Ben-Yehuda
1994a:158). Not only did Columbine go on to become the archetypal model to
which all other school shootings that followed it would be compared (Kalish
and Kimmel 2010; Larkin 2007, 2009; Muschert 2007b; Muschert and Larkin
2007), it also became a cornerstone in the discourse about youth violence in
America (Muschert 2002; Schildkraut and Muschert 2019). Therefore, understanding how Columbine and subsequent events are situated within the attributes of moral panic can lend a greater understanding of the panic itself.
Concern. According to Goode and Ben-Yehuda (1994a, 1994b), concern
related to a perceived threat must be able to be measured in concrete and
explicit ways. The most accessible way to do so is through media reports
(Burns and Crawford 1999), particularly given the amount of coverage that
school shootings generate and the fact that the media serve as the main source
of information for approximately 95 percent of the general population (Graber
1980; Surette 2015). Hundreds of stories were aired about Columbine in the
first month after the shooting on both cable news network programs (Muschert
2002) and evening news broadcasts (Robinson 2011; see also Maguire,
Weatherby, and Mathers 2002); the shooting was the biggest news story of
1999 and the third most followed of the decade after the Rodney King verdict
(1992) and the crash of TWA flight 800 (1996; Pew Research Center for the
People and the Press 1999). Comparable airtime was devoted to covering the
Virginia Tech shooting, also the biggest news story of its week, nearly eight
years later (Pew Research Center for the People and the Press 2007).
Additionally, more than 10,000 news stories were published about Columbine
in the top 50 national newspapers in 1999 (Newman 2006), with 170 stories
appearing in just The New York Times in the first 30 days after the shooting
(Chyi and McCombs 2004). Similarly, 130 articles appeared in The Times in
430
H. JAYMI ELSASS ET AL.
the month following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School
(Schildkraut 2014, 2016; Schildkraut and Muschert 2014).
Concern also may be measured by the responses to an event, such as legislative activity (Burns and Crawford 1999). In relation to school shootings,
firearms are a necessary component (compared to other weapons that would
make it an attack rather than a shooting), and thus, the majority of efforts in
the aftermath of these events typically focus on restricting firearms (Schildkraut
and Carr 2020). In the year after Columbine, for example, more than 800 bills
were introduced at the state and federal level (Soraghan 2000), including a
number of pieces designed to extend background checks (e.g., universal checks,
including gun shows) and eliminate straw purchases (Schildkraut and Hernandez 2014). Attempts to regulate assault-style weapons also have come in the
wake of school shootings (Schildkraut and Carr 2020). Despite the fervor of
activity, however, few bills are signed into law (Schildkraut and Carr 2020;
Schildkraut and Hernandez 2014), which also may serve as an indicator of the
imbalance between the saliency of the threat and the threat itself.
Hostility. Certain youth, either individually or as part of a collective
group, may be subject to increased hostility in the form of demonization,
criminalization, or even alienation when they exhibit problematic behaviors,
including violence (Burns and Crawford 1999). School shootings like
Columbine shifted perceptions away from the idea that violence was solely an
inner-city problem perpetrated by minority youth (Tonso 2009), highlighting
the fact that no community was or is immune to such tragedy (Frymer 2009;
Larkin 2007). As a result, students in educational institutions across the nation
who shared similar traits with the Columbine perpetrators and other school
shooters, including choices of clothing (e.g., trench coats) and music (e.g.,
“Goth rock” like Marilyn Manson or Rammstein), were considered cause for
concern (Frymer 2009; Madfis 2020). Similarly, students who were not elites
or jocks but instead part of out-groups in high schools have also been regularly
profiled as the next potential school shooter (Frymer 2009; Larkin 2007; Tonso
2009).
Consensus. When there is agreement that a threat is “real, serious, and
caused by the wrongdoing of group members and their behavior,” consensus is
said to have been achieved (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a:157). Though such
agreement may not affect most people nor be universally accepted, it must be
widespread (Burns and Crawford 1999). Following Columbine, school
shootings became a significant cause for national concern (Muschert 2009), with
the conversation about safety in such institutions transcending from Littleton to
all suburban high schools in the country (Altheide 2009b). Taken together, the
amplified fear over school safety (Burns and Crawford 1999; Fox and DeLateur
MORAL PANIC, SCHOOL SHOOTINGS, AND FEAR OF CRIME
431
2014; McCarthy 2015; Wike and Fraser 2009), coupled with a sense of disorder
and lack of control (Altheide 2009a), are markers of a moral panic.
Consensus among members of society about a problem can lead to a
desire to “do something” in order to remedy the damage caused by the issue
and restore “moral order” (Burns and Crawford 1999:149). This reaction can
“involve strengthening the social control apparatus of the society, including
tougher or renewed rules, increased public hostility and condemnation, more
laws, longer sentences, more police, more arrests, and more prison cells”
(Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994b:30) and often is reflected in public opinion
polls following mass shootings (see, e.g., Saad 1999). Responses to school
shootings have run the gamut, from hardening schools (e.g., Crawford and
Burns 2015) to implementing zero-tolerance policies for any behavioral infraction (Kupchik 2010). The typical public discourse following such attacks
focuses on condemning the “usual suspects” of guns, mental health, and violent
media (Schildkraut et al. 2016; Schildkraut and Muschert 2013, 2019), and
steps are taken, albeit often unsuccessfully as noted, to legislate the issues that
are perceived to have been the catalyst for the shooting (Schildkraut and Carr
2020; Schildkraut and Hernandez 2014; Soraghan 2000; Vasilogambros 2018).
Disproportionality. When attempting to understand how a moral panic
originates, it is imperative to compare the amount of attention the problem
garners compared to its actual occurrence (Burns and Crawford 1999; Muschert
and Ragnedda 2010). Disproportionality, a key to understanding the existence
of such panic, occurs when the perceived threat exceeds the magnitude of the
actual threat (Waddington 1986). The over-exaggeration of the scale of the
issue may be promoted by the media or may stem from overly severe official
reactions (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a; Waddington 1986). In the context of
school shootings, this problem is further exacerbated by a lack of a precise
definition and dataset to understand the true breadth of the problem
(Schildkraut and Elsass 2016). Despite the perception that these events are
reaching epidemic-like proportions, schools, as noted, are among the safest
places for children to be (Fox and Friedel 2018). In fact, less than 2 percent of
youth homicides occur at educational institutions (Cornell 2015; Holland et al.
2019). Also contributing to the disproportional understanding about school
shootings is the fact that, despite their sensational yet newsworthy nature, not
all attacks receive equitable attention in and by the media; the emphasis on the
most extreme (and lethal) examples further distorts the perceptions about such
events (Schildkraut, Elsass, and Meredith 2018a).
Volatility. The concept of volatility, which Burns and Crawford (1999)
actually omit from their examination of Columbine, refers to the sudden
eruption and abrupt diminution of social threats (Goode and Ben-Yehuda
432
H. JAYMI ELSASS ET AL.
1994a). In other words, events like mass shootings are unpredictable in the
context of where and when they will occur. Consequently, measuring the
concept of volatility is particularly difficult; one proposed solution to overcome
this challenge is to consider the length of time the phenomenon receives public
attention. In the context of media coverage, Downs (1972) refers to this as the
“issue-attention cycle,” in which stories have a certain shelf life before being
replaced by other topics of interest to satisfy the public’s need for new content.
Issues like money and politics enjoy longer shelf lives, averaging 3.5–4 years
(McCombs and Zhu 1995). Coverage of school shootings, on the other hand,
typically only lasts one month (at most) before being replaced by other news
headlines (Chyi and McCombs 2004; Schildkraut and Muschert 2014). In other
words, school shootings—in the context of public and media attention—are
particularly volatile in nature because the attention to them is short-lived.
A Quantitative Application. As noted, nearly all applications of the moral
panic framework, including those incorporating Goode and Ben-Yehuda’s
attributional model, have relied on qualitative, historical data. In an effort to
extend the body of research to overcome this limitation, Schildkraut, Elsass, and
Stafford (2015) previously quantitatively applied Goode and Ben-Yehuda’s
framework to better understand what characteristics of college students predicted
attitudes consistent with moral panic over school shootings, both collectively and
across the five individual attributes. Their findings indicated in the context of the
concern attribute (along the defense dimension), females and non-gun owners
were less supportive of carrying firearms for protection on campus, whereas those
respondents residing off campus were more amenable to such a proposal
(Schildkraut et al. 2015).1 Similarly, non-gun owners, respondents living off
campus, and those reporting greater levels of fear of crime also expressed
attitudes consistent with hostility, conceptualized as punitive attitudes toward
school shooters. Females were significantly less likely than males to say that
school shootings were unpredictable (volatility). Respondents with greater levels
of fear of personal crime were significantly more likely to agree that school
shootings were happening more frequently than their actual occurrence
(disproportionality); these same respondents also were significantly more likely
to subscribe to the idea of a moral panic over these events. Schildkraut, Elsass,
and Stafford’s (2015) quantitative study examining moral panic at one university
led to the current study to further the analysis using other predictors, with a
specific emphasis on location.
Why Should Location Matter?
Although research has yet to consider variation in attitudes consistent with
a moral panic over school shootings based on region specifically, there are
MORAL PANIC, SCHOOL SHOOTINGS, AND FEAR OF CRIME
433
other studies that set a precedent for why location should be considered. Relating to school shootings specifically, Dor e et al. (2015) found that spatial, as
well as temporal, proximity to an attack can impact emotional and psychological reactions. Examining Twitter posts following the Sandy Hook shooting,
they found that the more spatially distant users were from Newtown, they were
less likely to tweet about the attack and less likely to express intense emotional
thoughts (Dor e et al. 2015). Importantly, the findings also indicated that while
users were less likely to express sadness in their tweets the more spatially distant they were from the shooting, they also were more likely to express
increased anger and anxiety about the attack (Dor e et al. 2015). This finding in
particular highlights what Warr (2000) refers to as “altruistic fear,” or fear for
others, rather than “personal fear,” where individuals are concerned about their
own safety. Moreover, in the context of fear of crime, anxiety represents concern over future victimization (Warr 2000), which mirrors the broader societal
responses to school shootings that call for prevention of the next attack.
Other studies also have found regional variations in topics related to these
events. Lemieux (2014), for example, found variability within the correlation
between legislation and crime rates, such that states with more permissive gun
laws, particularly those in the South and Midwest, have higher rates of both
gun deaths generally and homicides committed with firearms specifically.
Mixed findings, however, have emerged related to the relationship between gun
laws, location, and the occurrence of mass shootings. Lemieux (2014) found
that states with restrictive policies, such as those in the Northeast and West,
experience more mass shootings and higher victim counts, which follows a
common argument that the perpetrators of these attacks purposefully select
“soft targets,” or those locations where they are less likely to encounter armed
resistance (e.g., Hesterman 2015). Conversely, Friedel (2020) found that such
attacks are more likely to occur in states with higher level of gun ownership.
Further, as most people experience mass shootings through the media
rather than directly, differences between markets in the content and quality of
news can influence audience exposure (Althaus et al. 2009). Media use has
been found to vary by region, with local television news found to be more popular in the Midwest compared to the West, cable news being favored in southern states compared to the West and Midwest, and network news popular in
the Northeast and Southeast (including Gulf Coast) regions (Althaus et al.
2009). Similarly, news consumers in the northern regions of the United States
are more likely to read the newspaper than their counterparts in the southern
portion of the country (Althaus et al. 2009). In sum, these findings highlight
the importance of considering the potential for regional differences in perceptions of attitudes related to a moral panic over school shootings given the
potential disparities in varying cultural and other processes at work.
434
H. JAYMI ELSASS ET AL.
Methodology
The present study is guided by a key research question that seeks to
expand the scope of Schildkraut, Elsass, and Stafford’s (2015) initial examination. Specifically, we ask do attitudes indicative of moral panic over school
shootings vary by location (region)? In order to answer this question, we
hypothesize that there will be regional variation among participants’ attitudes
about the problem of school shootings.
Participants
In order to assess potential regional variations, the survey instrument was
disseminated at five universities of varying sizes in different parts of the country during the Fall 2012 (Southwest) and Spring 2013 (Northeast, Southeast,
Midwest, and West) semesters following IRB approvals at each institution.
Paper-and-pencil surveys were administered to undergraduate students at each
university, and data collection was completed in the same semester that it
began. Target sample sizes for each university were calculated using a 95 percent confidence level and 5 percent margin of error based upon the institution’s
population. Convenience sampling of undergraduate courses then was utilized
to collect the number of surveys to meet the target sample size.2 Potential
respondents were notified that their participation was voluntary, and no incentives were provided. A total of 1,906 surveys were collected across the five
sites—Southwest (Texas), Northeast (New York), Southeast (Mississippi), Midwest (Ohio), and West (Washington).
Table 1 presents the descriptive statistics for respondents by region, as
well as the total sample. In the full sample, females represented the larger share
of respondents (58.4%), as did whites (66.8%). Students ages 21 and under
accounted for 74.8 percent of respondents. The majority of respondents identified themselves as non-gun owners (75.9%) and indicated that they lived off
campus (57.4%).
Dependent Variables
Nineteen Likert-scale questions operationalizing Burns and Crawford’s
(1999) moral panic indicators as they relate to school shootings were included
in the survey, as outlined by Schildkraut, Elsass, and Stafford (2015).
Responses ranged on a five-point scale, from strongly disagree (1) to strongly
agree (5). While Goode and Ben-Yehuda’s (1994a, 1994b) model of moral
panic included five attributes (consensus, disproportionality, hostility, volatility,
and concern), Schildkraut, Elsass, and Stafford’s (2015) factor analysis suggested that six factors were better suited for the phenomenon of school shootings with questions loading moderately to high on their respective factors. This
58.1
41.2
48.6
9.0
36.0
2.9
57.0
42.1
38.5
58.8
11.1
86.0
215
40
159
13
252
186
170
260
49
380
%
257
182
n
322
86
45
355
379
33
311
32
31
38
178
234
n
77.2
20.6
10.8
85.1
90.9
7.9
74.6
7.7
7.4
9.1
42.7
56.1
%
Northeast
(N = 417)
166
238
83
317
358
50
291
90
11
14
120
288
n
40.3
57.8
20.1
76.9
86.9
12.1
70.6
21.8
2.7
3.4
29.1
69.9
%
Southeast
(N = 412)
235
163
32
359
333
66
332
33
7
26
143
256
n
58.8
40.8
8.0
89.8
83.3
16.5
83.0
8.3
1.8
6.5
35.8
64.0
%
Midwest
(N = 400)
4
227
76
156
103
130
124
16
21
68
79
154
n
1.7
96.6
32.3
66.4
43.8
55.3
52.8
6.8
8.9
28.9
33.6
65.5
%
West
(N = 235)
776
1,094
406
1,447
1,425
465
1,273
211
229
159
777
1,114
n
40.7
57.4
21.3
75.9
74.8
24.4
66.8
11.1
12.0
8.3
40.8
58.4
%
Total
(N = 1,906)
Note: Variable frequency percentages may not total to 100.0 percent due to rounding error or missing data.
Gender
Male
Female
Race/Ethnicity
White
Black
Hispanic
Other
Age
21 and younger
22 and older
Gun Ownership
Owns
Does not own
Residence
On campus
Off campus
Variables
Southwest
(N = 442)
Table 1 Descriptive Statistics for Respondents by Region and Total Sample
MORAL PANIC, SCHOOL SHOOTINGS, AND FEAR OF CRIME
435
436
H. JAYMI ELSASS ET AL.
was the result of the concern attribute being split into two dimensions: one
focused on defense (including questions centering gun rights) and the other
measuring prevention (including questions pertaining to respondent attitudes
toward gun control). A list of the attributes, with their respective questions and
descriptive statistics, is presented in Appendix 1.
Prior to any analyses being conducted, however, patterns of missing data
—which ranged from 0.4 to 1.2 percent among the 19 questions—were
assessed using Little’s Test of Missing Completely at Random (MCAR). The
results indicated that the data were missing completely at random
(v2 = 627.072, p = .454). Subsequently, listwise deletion was used to exclude
these cases from the dataset, which Allison (2014) recommends as an appropriate and less biased way to handle missing data in larger sample sizes.
Further diagnostics also were conducted to assess whether the December
14, 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which occurred during
the data collection period, posed a potential threat to internal validity of these
variables. Subsequently, chi-square analyses were conducted for each of the six
dependent measures by time (0 = pre-Sandy Hook, 1 = post-Sandy Hook). The
analyses revealed that statistically significant differences were present among
four of the attributes—consensus (v2 = 20.383, p < .05), disproportionality (v2 = 39.943, p < .05), hostility (v2 = 79.254, p < .001), and concern–defense (v2 = 121.811, p < .001)—as well as the full moral panic scale (v2 = 85.816, p < .01). Accordingly, as a proxy for time, when location was included in the multivariate models, the Southwest region served as the reference category as it was the only school that completed data collection prior to the attack and therefore could simultaneously serve as a control for the potential history effect of the shooting. The four remaining schools began and completed their data collection after Sandy Hook. Independent Variables The present study also provided the opportunity for continued exploration of potential demographic differences in perceptions of school shootings as a moral panic (Schildkraut et al. 2015). Accordingly, additional dummy-coded measures were created for each independent variable, except for those involving fear of crime and perceived risk of victimization, with one category omitted from each to serve as the reference group (1 represented the presence of the characteristic, and its absence was coded as 0). Females were coded as 1, with males serving as the reference category. Three individual dummy variables— black, Hispanic, and other (including respondents reporting they were Asian or biracial), were created to measure race and ethnicity; whites served as the reference category. Age was dichotomized into two categories: 21 and under and 22 and older,3 with the younger group serving as the reference category. Southwest (N = 442) Northeast (N = 417) Southeast (N = 412) Midwest (N = 400) West (N = 235) F Post hoc analyses (Scheff e) *p ≤ .05; **p ≤ .01; ***p ≤ .001. 10.77 (2.10) 10.74 (1.86) 10.84 (1.92) 11.01 (1.62) 11.08 (1.82) 2.128 6.15 (2.92) 4.17 (2.41) 4.88 (2.56) 4.73 (2.29) 5.36 (2.87) 34.045*** NE < SW, NE < SE, NE < MW, NE < W, SE < SW, MW < SW, W < SW Concern 7.94 (1.91) 7.92 (1.77) 8.15 (1.68) 8.36 (1.55) 8.46 (1.78) 6.672** NE < MW, NE < W, (Prevention) SW < MW, SW < W Hostility 13.33 (4.15) 15.17 (3.26) 14.81 (5.00) 15.51 (3.15) 13.35 (3.67) 28.765*** W < NE, SW < NE, W < SE, SW < SE, W < MW, SW < MW Disproportionality 18.61 (5.02) 19.78 (4.37) 20.19 (4.87) 19.77 (4.60) 17.91 (5.31) 11.662*** W < NE, SW < NE, W < SE, SW < SE, W < MW, SW < MW Volatility 6.53 (1.96) 6.50 (1.82) 6.52 (1.64) 6.37 (1.78) 6.84 (1.87) 2.616* MW < W MP Full Scale 63.47 (9.57) 64.48 (8.24) 65.43 (9.45) 65.78 (8.00) 63.01 (9.37) 5.393*** W < MW, SW < MW Consensus Concern (Defense) Attribute Table 2 Means and Standard Deviations (SD) of Moral Panic Attributes and Global Measure by Region with One-Way ANOVA Statistics and Post Hoc Analyses (N = 1,906) MORAL PANIC, SCHOOL SHOOTINGS, AND FEAR OF CRIME 437 438 H. JAYMI ELSASS ET AL. Two additional demographic independent variables assessing firearm ownership and residential status of the responding were included in the analysis. First, respondents were asked whether they owned a handgun, rifle, or shotgun. Those reporting ownership of at least one firearm were coded as being a gun owner, which was used as the reference category. Further, respondents were asked whether they live on or off campus, as earlier empirical findings regarding fear of crime and college students (see, e.g., Tewksbury and Mustaine 2003) indicate that people who are spatially more distant from a crime locale (in this case, the campus itself) also will be less fearful. For this variable, those respondents reporting that they live on campus served as the reference category. The final independent variables relate to fear of crime and perceived risk of victimization, which serve as conceptually and empirically distinct concepts (Ferraro and Grange 1987), with fear proposed as a cause of the perceived risk (Ferraro 1995). Further, fear and perceived risk of crime are conceptually distinct from moral panic. While the latter is considered a macro-level response to a perceived social problem, both fear and risk, as related to crime, are more indicative of individual-level responses to that problem (see, e.g., Elsass, Schildkraut, and Stafford 2014). In this study, 10 crimes and public order violations were used to create two identical panels of survey items—one for fear of crime and one for perceived risk (Ferraro 1995; Grange and Ferraro 1989). Respondents were asked about their fear or perceived likelihood of being approached by a beggar or panhandler on the street, being conned out of money, having someone break into their home while they were present and while they were away, being raped or sexually assaulted, being murdered, being attacked with a weapon, having their car stolen, being mugged, and having one’s property vandalized (Ferraro 1995; Grange and Ferraro 1989).4 Responses for these panels ranged from 1 (not at all likely/afraid) to 10 (very likely/afraid). In order to differentiate between personal and property crime, additive scales were created. Personal crime included questions about having one’s home broken into while present, being murdered, and being attacked with a weapon (Ferraro 1995). In line with Schildkraut, Elsass, and Stafford’s (2015) original research, rape was omitted in the present study as it proved to be highly collinear with fear and perceived risk of personal crime. This is to be expected if fear of rape drives fear of overall crime, albeit only for women (Warr 1984, 2000). Each scale related to personal crime was found to have acceptable internal consistency (Cronbach’s a: fear = .886; risk = .830; see Tavakol and Dennick 2011). The remaining questions were added together to create the property crime measure, also with acceptable internal consistency among the respective questions included (Cronbach’s a: fear = .879; risk = .785). MORAL PANIC, SCHOOL SHOOTINGS, AND FEAR OF CRIME 439 Analysis and Findings Regional Variability in Moral Panic and Related Attribution The study’s research question centered on determining whether subscription to moral panic over school shootings varied by region. In order to answer this question and test the hypothesis that differences would be present based on respondents’ location, analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used with each of the individual attributes by region, as well as the complete moral panic scale. Scheff e’s post hoc analysis also was employed to determine, when applicable, which groups differed from one another. The results of these analyses are presented in Table 2. As the findings illustrate, for five of the six attributes, excluding consensus, statistically significant differences exist across regions. In first examining the defense dimension of concern, respondents in the Northeast expressed less agreement that concealed handgun license (CHL) holders should be able to carry firearms on campus as compared to any of the other four regions (F = 34.045, p ≤ .001); conversely, more agreement was found among respondents in the Southwest compared to each of the other locations. For the opposite dimension of concern, prevention, which reflects attitudes akin to gun control, respondents in both the Northeast and Southwest expressed less agreement as compared to those in either the Midwest or West (F = 6.672, p ≤ .001). Moreover, compared to individuals in the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest, respondents in both the Southwest and West expressed more punitive attitudes (Hostility: F = 28.765, p ≤ .001) and stronger beliefs that school shootings are more likely to occur than they actually are (Disproportionality: F = 11.662, p ≤ .001). When examining volatility, differences in attitudes only were present between two regions: respondents in the Midwest were less likely than those in the West to believe that school shootings are unpredictable (F = 2.616, p ≤ .05). Finally, when considering the full scale, respondents in the Midwest were more likely than their counterparts in the Southwest and West to report greater moral panic over school shootings (F = 5.393, p ≤ .001). Multivariate Modeling Assessing Predictors of Moral Panic Supplemental analyses were conducted using ordinary least squares (OLS) regression to assess predictors of attitudes consistent with moral panic over school shootings, and the respondents’ location (region) served as the primary explanatory measures along with demographic variables as controls (Table 3). For both dimensions of concern (defense and prevention), hostility, and volatility, the significant effects of region on these attributes were consistent with the findings of the ANOVAs reported earlier. Notably, however, significant effects 440 H. JAYMI ELSASS ET AL. related to the disproportionality attribute reversed compared to the prior analysis. Previously, the Scheff e’s post hoc analysis of the ANOVA revealed that respondents in the Southwest group, which serves here as the reference category in the OLS regression, expressed less agreement about moral panic than individuals in the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest. As the findings of the regression indicate, however, these regions no longer are significant when entered into the model with the other independent variables. Instead, respondents in the West were less likely than those in the Southwest to agree that school shootings are happening more frequently than they are (B = .081, p ≤ .01), whereas no significant differences between the two regions related to the disproportionality attribute exist when examined independent of other potential predictors. Additional significant correlates of attitudes consistent with a school shootings moral panic also were found. Among demographic correlates, in first considering sex differences, when inspecting the effects of being female on each of the individual attributes (e.g., consensus), four significant effects were found. The regression results indicate that being female was negatively correlated with volatility and the defense dimension of the concern attribute, but positively correlated with disproportionality and the prevention dimension of the concern attribute. Females, as compared to males, were less likely to say that licensed students and faculty should be able to carry guns on campus (B = .089, p ≤ .001). Females also were less likely than males to believe that school shootings are unpredictable events (B = .118, p ≤ .001). Conversely, females were more likely than their male counterparts to express concern over the prevention of school shootings (B = .062, p ≤ .05). Females also were more likely to believe that school shootings are more common events than they actually are (B = .125, p ≤ .001). Being female, however, was not found to be significantly correlated with consensus or hostility. Race/ethnicity also was found to have a significant correlation with four of the individual attributes of moral panic. With respect to consensus, blacks displayed significantly less agreement than their white counterparts that the threat of school shootings are an imminent threat to the social order (B = .066, p ≤ .01). Concerning the two dimensions of the concern attribute, blacks were less likely than whites to support gun control (B = .065, p ≤ .01) as assessed through the prevention dimension, and also less likely to believe that CHL holders should be permitted to bring firearms on campus (B = .132, p ≤ .001), per the defense dimension. Additionally, as compared to whites, blacks offered less support for volatility (B = .015, p ≤ .001). Respondents identifying as races other than white, black, and Hispanic were less likely to express punitive attitudes related to school shootings as compared to their white Region Northeast .014 (.166) Southeast .050 (.154) Midwest .066 (.159) West .054 (.171) Gender Female .011 (.102) Age 22 and .043 (.120) older Race/Ethnicity Black .066 (.150)** Hispanic .004 (.158) Other .013 (.172) Gun Ownership Non-owner .004 (.124) Residence Off campus .010 (.114) Fear/Risk of Crime Fear .026 (.008) (Personal) Consensus .000 (.152) .051 (.141) .076 (.146)* .100 (.157)*** .062 (.094)* .034 (.110) .065 (.138)** .053 (.145) .045 (.157) .123 (.113)*** .005 (.104) .014 (.007) .089 (.130)*** .004 (.153) .132 (.192)*** .020 (.202) .037 (.218) .363 (.158)*** .006 (.145) .029 (.010) Concern (Prevention) .205 (.210)*** .101 (.196)*** .099 (.202)*** .062 (.219)* Concern (Defense) .118 (.014)** .030 (.209) .216 (.228)*** .020 (.279) .017 (.292) .052 (.315)* .032 (.221) .026 (.188) .143 (.304)*** .057 (.285)* .185 (.294)*** .026 (.316) Hostility .084 (.018)* .029 (.266) .053 (.289)* .022 (.353) .011 (.370) .029 (.402) .025 (.281) .125 (.239)*** .034 (.387) .044 (.362) .044 (.374) .081 (.401)** Disproportionality Table 3 OLS Regression Results for Moral Panic Attributes .028 (.008) .017 (.109) .030 (.118) .015 (.145)*** .095 (.152) .039 (.164) .012 (.115) .118 (.098)*** .049 (.158) .074 (.148)* .048 (.153) .086 (.164)** Volatility MORAL PANIC, SCHOOL SHOOTINGS, AND FEAR OF CRIME 441 .031 (.012) .030 (.010) .246 .240 .007 (.021) .085 (.016)* .026 .017 .040 (.009) .047 (.007) Concern (Defense) .051 .043 .062 (.009) .066 (.015) .082 (.006) Concern (Prevention) .160 .153 .051 (.018) .015 (.030) .079 (.013) Hostility .178 .171 .082 (.023)* .054 (.038) .165 (.016)*** Disproportionality Note: Results presented as the standardized coefficients with the standard errors in parentheses. *p ≤ .05; **p ≤ .01; *** p ≤ .001. Fear (Property) Risk (Personal) Risk (Property) R2 Adjusted R2 Consensus Table 3 (continued) .032 .023 .034 (.009) .068 (.016) .077 (.006) Volatility 442 H. JAYMI ELSASS ET AL. MORAL PANIC, SCHOOL SHOOTINGS, AND FEAR OF CRIME 443 counterparts (B = .052, p ≤ .05). Hispanic respondents did not differ from whites in their attitudes across any of the moral panic attributes. Fear and perceived risk of both personal and property crime also were included in the models and yielded several significant results. Specifically, with regard to hostility, respondents who reported greater levels of fear of personal victimization express more punitive attitudes about school shootings (B = .118, p ≤ .01). Similarly, concerning the disproportionality attribute, the greater the level of fear of personal victimization, the more likely the respondent was to agree that school shootings happen more frequently than they actually do (B = .084, p ≤ .05). Fear of personal crime, however, was not found to be significantly correlated with any of the remaining attributes of moral panic. Perceived risk was correlated only with consensus: individuals who reported greater perceptions of their risk of personal victimization were less likely to express agreement about school shootings as a threat (B = .085, p ≤ .05). Moreover, the results indicated significant differences between gun owners and non-gun owners in attitudes consistent with a moral panic over school shootings. As the results indicate, statistically significant differences were found across four of the six attributes: both dimensions of concern, hostility, and disproportionality. Specifically, as it relates to concern, non-owners were less likely to support CHL holders carrying weapons on campus (Defense: B = .363, p ≤ .001) and more likely to support restrictions for possession (Prevention: B = .123, p ≤ .001) than gun owners. Additionally, non-gun owners also were more likely to express punitive attitudes about school shootings (Hostility: B = .216, p ≤ .001) and believe that they were happening more often than their actual occurrence (Disproportionality: B = .053, p ≤ .05). Finally, consideration is given to the potential for a broader moral panic about school shootings, measured by a general scale comprising all 19 questions (see also Schildkraut et al. 2015). Table 4 presents the results of the OLS regression. While the ANOVA results indicated that, for the general scale, respondents in the Midwest expressed attitudes more favorable to moral panic than individuals in the West and Southwest, only the latter held when the other variables were entered into the model (B = .107, p ≤ .01). Similarly, unlike in the OLS models for the individual attributes, females and non-gun owners did not differ significantly in their attitudes about a general moral panic from males and gun owners, respectively. Blacks, however, were significantly less likely to subscribe to a moral panic over school shootings as compared to white respondents (B = .053, p ≤ .05). Moreover, greater fear and perceived risk of personal crime were not correlated with such subscription. These collective findings are discussed further in the next section. 444 H. JAYMI ELSASS ET AL. Discussion Research on moral panic has continued to evolve since the concept was introduced in the 1970s and, since Columbine, attention has shifted to understanding school shootings through this lens. Both Burns and Crawford (1999) and Springhall (1999) examined public response to Columbine as a function of moral panic using a qualitative approach. More recently, Schildkraut, Elsass, Table 4 OLS Regression Results for General Moral Panic Scale Moral panics Region Northeast Southeast Midwest West Gender Female Age 22 and older Race/Ethnicity Black Hispanic Other Gun Ownership Non-owner Residence Off campus Fear/Risk of Crime Fear (Personal) Fear (Property) Risk (Personal) Risk (Property) R2 Adjusted R2 .030 (.747) .051 (.698) .107 (.721)** .032 (.778) .040 (.461) .009 (.545) .053 (.681)* .021 (.715) .053 (.778) .026 (.561) .004 (.513) .076 (.035) .153 (.031)*** .001 (.073) .094 (.044)* .099 .091 Note: Results presented as the standardized coefficients with the standard errors in parentheses. *p ≤ .05; **p ≤ .01; ***p ≤ .001. MORAL PANIC, SCHOOL SHOOTINGS, AND FEAR OF CRIME 445 and Stafford (2015) considered perceptions related to school shootings as a phenomenon more broadly using a quantitative approach to test Goode and Ben-Yehuda’s (1994a, 1994b) attributional theory. The present study extends this line of inquiry by specifically considering how such perceptions may vary based on location (see also Newman and Hartman 2019). When considering attitudes about moral panic and school shootings as a function of location, a number of interesting findings emerged across the different attributes, with significant differences across five of six as well as the full scale. Interestingly, attitudes along the consensus attribute—representing agreement of the existence of the threat—are not significant. In other words, the absence of significant differences by region can be interpreted in and of itself to be consensus across all locations. Thus, regardless of where the respondent resides, there is collective agreement that school shootings are a problem, which similarly mirrors Schildkraut, Elsass, and Stafford’s (2015) findings of a lack of significant predictors along the consensus attribute. Significant differences across regions were found related to the defense dimension of the concern attribute, which represents attitudes consistent with gun rights. Specifically, respondents in the Southwest were more supportive of concealed carry policies for the purpose of defense against school shootings than individuals in any other region. This finding is not entirely unexpected, given Texas’s pervasive and storied gun culture (see, e.g., Dizard, Muth, and Andrews 1999). In fact, although the policy was not in effect at the time the present survey was administered, Texas currently is one of just 10 states that allows individuals to carry firearms concealed on campus with a license, a measure introduced by some states after a number of shootings at colleges and universities, including Virginia Tech (National Conference of State Legislatures 2019). Conversely, respondents in the Northeast were less supportive of such policies compared to every other region. Notably, at the time the survey was administered, the State of New York recently had adopted one of the nation’s most comprehensive gun control packages, the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act, several months earlier in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Although concealed carry on campus had never been permitted, the SAFE Act implemented other gun control measures, including universal background checks and enhanced penalties for illegal gun use (“NY SAFE Act” n.d.). Therefore, it is possible, though unable to be confirmed based on data in the present study, that such attitudes were a by-product of the legislative changes in the state. On the opposite dimension of concern—prevention, which incorporates gun control-related measures—these same regions again significantly differed. Compared to the Midwest and West, respondents in the Southwest region were significantly less supportive of imposing measures that would limit their gun 446 H. JAYMI ELSASS ET AL. rights. Again, this is likely due, at least in part, to the culture of firearms and prevalence of ownership. In 2019, for example, Texas had the highest number of registered weapons of any state in the nation—and nearly nine times that of New York (Statista 2020), with approximately 36 percent of residents in 2017 registered as gun owners (CBS News 2017). New York, on the other hand, has one of the lowest rates of ownership in the nation—just 10 percent of residents are registered gun owners (CBS News 2017). Despite such disparities in ownership and registered weapons, however, respondents in the Northeast also were less supportive of preventative measures by way of gun control compared to the Midwest and West. Whereas the Southwestern respondents may have objected to having their gun rights restricted, the Northeastern respondents potentially viewed additional restrictions as unnecessary because the measures (background checks and enhanced penalties) already were in place as a result of the SAFE Act. For both disproportionality and hostility, respondents in the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest were significantly more likely to express agreement to related questions as compared to individuals in both the Southwest and West. Related to disproportionality, or the belief that school shootings are happening more than they really are, it is possible that geographic proximity—such that the Northeastern, Southeastern, and Midwestern campuses are spatially closer to Newtown, CT, where the Sandy Hook shooting occurred—played a role in cultivating such differences (see also Dor e et al. 2015), though the Southwestern survey was completed prior to the attack. At the same time, it also is possible that such differences are the results of other factors, such as media consumption habits (e.g., Althaus et al. 2009). Further testing, however, would be needed to confirm such a hypothesis. Still, the fact that these three groups of respondents perceived these events as happening more frequently also may explain their significantly greater levels of support on the hostility attribute. In other words, the more respondents believed school shootings were frequently occurring, the more likely they were to express punitive attitudes aimed at curbing such behaviors or punishing offenders. Moreover, for the Midwest sample specifically, these greater beliefs associated with the disproportionality and hostility attributes also can serve to explain why respondents were more likely to subscribe to the overall notion of moral panic over mass shootings. It is unclear, however, why the Northeast and Southeast did not exhibit similar subscriptions. Such inquiry should be the focus of future research. Finally, related to volatility, or the idea that attention to school shootings is particularly short-lived, respondents from the West were more likely to express agreement than those in the Midwest. Notably, mass shootings more broadly are more likely to occur in the Western regions of the United States (Schildkraut and MORAL PANIC, SCHOOL SHOOTINGS, AND FEAR OF CRIME 447 Elsass 2016), so such attitudes may stem from having a more direct, rather than mediatized, experience with these events. Mixed results were found when considering other potential correlates of moral panic subscription beyond just location, including demographics, fear of crime, and perceived risk of victimization. Compared to the defense dimension of the concern attribute, the three predictors in Schildkraut, Elsass, and Stafford’s (2015) study were again significant in the current assessment: females, blacks, and non-gun owners were less likely to express attitudes favorable to gun rights. Similarly, females also were less likely to express agreement that school shootings were unpredictable (volatility), and fear of personal crime was positively correlated with greater attitudes indicative of disproportionality and hostility. Despite these consistencies, however, additional demographic measures were found to be significant predictors across all attributes and the general moral panic scale that were not detected in the original study. Given that one of the significant changes in the OLS models was the introduction of location as controls, this suggests that, in the context of moral panic over school shootings, there may be regional social processes at work potentially influencing such attitudes. Future research, however, would be needed to confirm such a hypothesis. Taken together, the findings of the present study broaden our collective understanding about how people think about school shootings in general as well as through the lens of moral panic theory. This line of inquiry has not only confirmed the employment of a quantitative application of the attributional model to understand the potential for a school shooting moral panic, but also creates additional avenues for future research. For example, while it is possible that the variation in attitudes about school shootings and moral panic are shaped by different, location-specific social and cultural norms and processes, these cannot fully be captured within the scope of our study. In other words, while differences were found between the regions, we cannot for certain say why those disparities are present. Accordingly, future research may wish to further investigate these processes using different methodologies. Additional consideration may be given to other predictors, such as political ideology or partisanship, prior victimization or offending, and media consumption (amount and/or sources; see generally Althaus et al. 2009; Elsass et al. 2014) that also may predict attitudes associated with moral panic over school shootings. Moreover, given that both quantitative applications of the theory have utilized samples of college students, an expansion of the research to the general public is particularly warranted. While the present study yields a number of important findings about individual-level predictors of attitudes related to moral panic over mass shootings, there also are several additional limitations that must be considered. First, this 448 H. JAYMI ELSASS ET AL. study relies on convenience samples at each of the five institutions, which limit the generalizability of the results. Similarly, given that only a single university in each region was surveyed, it is not necessarily the case that the findings would be generalizable to all college students in that particular region. Replicating the study with an even broader sample would help to improve the generalizability of the findings, while continuing to validate the use of a quantitative application of Goode and Ben-Yehuda’s (1994a, 1994b) attributional model of moral panic theory as it relates to school shootings. Despite their statistical rarity, school shootings elicit extreme reactions from members of the general public, who often fear for their own safety despite their unlikelihood of victimization. As a result, the demand for responses often is rooted in emotion rather than evidence. Examining people’s personal reactions to social problems has been helpful in the past, although such research typically has relied on historical, qualitative data. Assessing regional differences in individuals’ reactions in real time to a volatile phenomenon such as school shootings is a vital next step that will undoubtedly pay dividends in contextualizing the demand for future legislation. ENDNOTES *Please direct correspondence to Jaclyn Schildkraut, State University of New York at Oswego, 458 Mahar Hall, Oswego, NY 13126, USA; e-mail: Jaclyn.Schildkraut@oswego.edu 1 Using factor analysis to determine which attribute was the best fit for each of the 19 questions used to assess moral panic, the researchers identified two opposite dimensions of concern: (1) prevention, incorporating questions representing attitudes towards gun control and (2) defense, including opinions favorable towards gun rights. 2 The number of classes varied by institution based on class enrollments. The minimum number of classes sampled was five (Southwest), and the maximum number was ten (West). 3 Due to IRB restrictions, the researchers were not permitted to ask respondents the numeric value of their age, but instead were required to ask respondents where they fell in the following age groups: 18-21, 22-25, 26-29, 30 and older. 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Consensus 3 15 10.87 1.885 School shootings are premeditated events I feel safe on campus Attention to a school shooting event does not last very long before another news story replaces it Concern (Defense) 2 10 5.05 2.692 I believe professors should be able to carry a firearm on campus if they have a concealed handgun license I believe students should be able to carry a firearm on campus if they have a concealed handgun license Concern (Prevention) 2 10 8.14 1.752 I believe that people should have to pass a criminal background check to purchase a firearm from a private dealer or a gun show I believe that there should be very stiff penalties assessed for guardians who fail to keep firearms out of the reach of their minor children Hostility 4 20 14.45 3.699 I believe my school should have more rigorous safety procedures in place I believe that someone who brings a firearm to school should be expelled I believe that someone who brings a firearm to school should serve time in jail 454 H. JAYMI ELSASS ET AL. 1 (continued) Variable Questions Min. Max. Mean Std. Dev. I believe that someone who brings a firearm to school should receive a mental health evaluation Disproportionality 6 30 19.32 4.753 School shootings are a major problem in the United States I believe school shootings are a major issue worldwide I believe a school shooting could happen at my school I believe that juvenile crime over the last 20 years is on the rise I believe that school shootings are on the rise The odds of being a victim of a school shooting are greater than being struck by lightning Volatility 2 10 6.52 1.800 School shootings are unpredictable I believe the media devotes too much coverage to school shootings MP General Scale 19 95 64.43 8.707 View publication stats Purchase answer to see full attachment

  
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