While school safety experts say there is no accurate or useful “profile” of students who engage in targeted school violence, the U.S. Secret Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation have reported these statistics:
- 95 percent of school shooters are enrolled students.
- 93 percent engaged in some kind of behavior prior to the attack that caused others to be concerned.
- 80 percent gave some advance warning to at least one person.
School administrators who become aware of troubling behavior have the unenviable responsibility of protecting the safety of all in the school community while giving appropriate weight to the privacy rights of students. Failure to disclose information to those who may have a right to know (e.g., a potential victim) could lead to a legal liability. At the same time, a student could claim that disclosing information about him or her was a violation of his or her constitutional rights or a form of defamation.
However, courts generally defer to the judgment of school officials in their responses to actual threats.