School Shootings and EBD (Emotional and Behavior Disorder): What Do We Know? What Do We Need to Know?

There is a strong connection between emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) and violent tendencies. It is no surprise that many, if not all, school shooters have a past littered with these tendencies and while there may be faults in the system to give these individuals the support they need to address these issues, sometimes nothing can be done to prevent such atrocities.

What are Emotional and Behavioral Disorders?

The definition of EBDs as specifically defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is:

 “…a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance: 

(A) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors. 

(B) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers. 

(C) Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances. 

(D) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression. 

(E) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.”

On the surface, these characteristics don’t seem too incredibly drastic within themselves, but the issue is how these root problems, over long periods of time, manifest into deeper problems that affect the individual. This creates a situation where the extreme violent outbursts are a symptom of the deeper issues at stake. It gets further compounded by the fact that EBDs can, and do, extend beyond the emotional problems but affect a person’s physical, social, or cognitive skills as well. 

EBDS take form in specific diagnoses such as general anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and various psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. 

Causes Of EBDs

Due to the broad nature of an EBD diagnosis, there is no specific cause that directly correlates to an EBD. Factors that contribute to EBD include genetics, brain chemistry, family environment (especially at the younger ages), stress, and much more. 

This makes the situation difficult because there isn’t an option for specific preventative measures to be taken but instead force a more support-system model that tries to reduce the detrimental effects of the EBD and hopefully negate the chance that an individual escalates to violence especially in the form of a school shooting. 

What Do We Need To Know?

EBDs can form at any time and students may mask their symptoms until it is too late for intervention. The online world offers a great escape for people but also opens them up to a whole new avenue of abuse as cyberbullying becomes an ongoing problem. Educators and parents alike need to be keen in the observation of their kids and try their best to pick up on any changes. They’re on the frontlines to helping these kids and adolescents deal healthily with their problems and offer them the resources needed.


While it is frustrating that there is no silver bullet for preventing EBDs there is still hope. Early screening, a big part in thanks to the vigilance of parents and teachers, is shown to be one of the best methods in dealing with EBDs and negating their effects. 

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