This site is an archive of a closed Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program, provided for educational and historical purposes. Please note that this content is not routinely updated and that contact information and social links may not work.

Early responses to school violence: A qualitative analysis of students' and parents' immediate reactions to the shootings at Columbine High School

 On April 20, 1999, two angry students attacked Columbine High School. The unprecedented murder/suicide resulted in 15 deaths, more than 20 injuries, and thousands of psychologically traumatized individuals. We present a qualitative analysis of interviews conducted two weeks after the incident with 4 Columbine High School students and 7 parents who were directly and indirectly affected. Findings highlight both similarities and variability in immediate emotional, cognitive, and social responses to the mass violence. Helpful and unhelpful support attempts are noted. Implications of the media's heavy involvement in sensational traumas are discussed, emphasizing important considerations for future research on the psychological effects of school violence.