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Higher Ed in the News

Violent attacks on campus have spiked in last 20 years

April 18, 2010

A new joint report by the FBI, the Secret Services, and the federal Department of Education released on the third anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, offers the first comprehensive analysis of violent attacks carried out on college campuses over the past century, finding that more than half have occurred in the last twenty years.

The analysis finds that three-fifths of campus attacks in a 108-year span occurred in the last two decades:

  • 79 attacks in the 1990s
  • 83 in the 2000s through 2008

The report attributes the surge to the growing campus population and to expanding coverage in the mass media.

Attacks most often happen in the months of April and October. Attackers are overwhelmingly male, and they have ranged in age from 16 to 62.

One-third of attacks related to intimate relationships. "Retaliation" was the second leading cause, followed by romantic rejection and obsession.

Students represented only 45 percent of perpetrators. Many attackers were former students, current or former employees, or people only indirectly affiliated with the college, if at all.

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