Targeted mass killings can be prevented

June 11, 2014
©2014 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

Disagreeing with comments made by Richard Friedman in a recent New York Times op-ed piece, Mary Ellen O'Toole, PhD, Senior FBI Profiler/Criminal Investigative Analyst (ret.), states that there is "a critical and significant difference" between being able to predict and prevent mass shootings. Dr. O'Toole, who is Editor-in-Chief of Violence and Gender, calls on the media to stop using the names of mass murders, which only fuels their desire for fame and is "a very powerful motivator," in a Perspective in the new peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

Misinformation about behavior linked to the recent UC Santa Barbara killings, and misleading statements and opinions related to these important issues from various sources could harm ongoing research efforts, affect future training of professionals in the field, and make it harder to educate the public about this type of violence. Ongoing misconceptions related to the "snapping theory" are not supported by the most current knowledge and research, which instead indicate that these are not impulsive events, but are well planned out crimes.

In "A Different Perspective on the UCSB Mass Murderer," Dr. O'Toole explains that "pre-incident behaviors" and warning signs typically precede such murders, but they can be misread or overlooked. "Our mission with Violence and Gender is to develop a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the 'underlying pathologies' that result in this behavior and...to develop actionable hypotheses about prediction."

Explore further: Dress and behavior of mass shooters as factors to predict and prevent future attacks

More information: The article is available on the Violence and Gender website at http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/vio.2014.1508.

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