School shootings target female students

By Grayce Turnbach
October 27, 2006

Recent events in Nickel Mine, Pa. have brought to the surface a theory that focuses on women being the targets in rural school shootings. This theory is by no means new.

“The predominant pattern in school shootings of the past three decades is that girls are the victims. In every case since the early 1970’s we do note this pattern,” Dr. Katherine Newman, a Princeton University sociologist on, said. Newman has been studying school shootings for the past 21 years.

Dr. Martin Schwartz, an Ohio University sociologist and expert on violence against women, said, “I have joked that it is a shame that we always allow these people to commit suicide.” He means that when the shooters decide to take their own life, we are not able to study them and find a solid answer as to why they took the actions they did.

A Canada shooting that took place in 1989 involved a recently jobless, hospital employee killing 14 female engineering students at the University of Montreal.

“Unless you are living in a cave, you are aware that the world is filled with boys and men who harbor an active hostility towards women,” Schwartz said.

He continued to explain that the Montreal shooter did not feel he wasn’t accepted to college because he was a bad student but because women were taking his place.

As of Oct. 9, Charles Carl Roberts had killed five girls from the shooting in Nickel Mine, Pa.

“My impression was that his only problem was that there were girls smarter than him,” Schwartz said.

“It is 100 percent obvious that these are people who have a strong problem with women and girls and harbor a serious resentment in some way,” Schwartz said.

In the fall of 2005 there were 1,040 full time women students on Cabrini’s campus.

“The increase of women this year was 13 percent,” said Charles Spencer, director of admissions.

Schwartz said, “It isn’t stupid for the college to have a plan. Perhaps you may want to have some steps taken. But still, who wants to go to a college where they are locked up like a 14th century princess in a convent.”

Lauren Dickson, a junior English and communication major, said, “I don’t think we’re at risk. There are too many positive things here at Cabrini. There are not enough significant negative things that would make someone want to come on our campus and shoot people.”

“I don’t go around worrying or being scared. I think that Cabrini is a safe campus. Therefore, I feel safe,” Amanda Stout, a senior English and communication major, said.

Locally, Villanova University’s Department of Public Safety and the Radnor Township Police Department “conducted a joint ‘active shooter’ table top exercise approximately five years ago,” John Shuter, special services manager and lieutenant of Villanova’s department of public safety, said.

Active shooting occurs when Villanova becomes aware of an active shooter and notifies Radnor Police to initiate their plans.

“Villanova’s department of public safety would immediately create controlled perimeters to evacuate and prevent anyone from entering dangerous areas,” Shuter said.

“I think Cabrini definitely needs a plan. When the stabbing occurred last year they were caught off guard and didn’t know what to do,” sophomore Kristie Dafnis said. “But I see a huge change in security around campus since then.”

Loquitur welcomes your comments and questions on this story. Please send your comments to: The editors will review your comments each week and make corrections if warranted.

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Grayce Turnbach

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