Justice Studies (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Laura E. Agnich


The motivations behind perpetrators decisions to commit a school shooting are important to study because they are rare events which contain high public concern, are difficult to predict and have been increasing in recent years. This study examined the self-reported motives of nineteen perpetrators of school shootings throughout the world by examining their manifestos and other writings. If no self-reported motives were found then statements made in the perpetrators writings were used to decide what factors may have motivated them to commit their act. In particular, we looked at what motivations the perpetrators expressed in their writings and which motivations were the most common. This study found that most often, there is no one definitive reason why a perpetrator of a school shooting decides to commit an attack. The motivations are most commonly a combination of factors, which can include political and/or religious motives, negative peer influences, and or/ experiences of abuse, rejection, bullying, and/or mental illness.