Regional group consults RU social work professor about preventing school shootings


Philip Mongan

Philip Mongan, assistant professor of social work, explored the nightmare of a mass school shooting with regional professionals May 29 in Wytheville at a training session hosted by the Great Southwest District of the Virginia Juvenile Justice Association.

To the group that included more than 60 representatives of regional schools, departments of social service and juvenile justice, community service boards and police departments, Mongan presented a talk titled, "Why they kill: a theoretical understanding of mass school violence."

"It is refreshing to work with people on the front lines, those who are dealing with the kids," Mongan said. "They deal with this horrible specter daily and challenged me to step from the academic clouds and make it applicable to them."

Mongan said the group was eager to challenge their own misperceptions and learn how to assess potential threats.

Mass killers aren’t born, according to Mongan, who is examining extreme school violence from a current and historical perspective.

"There is a multi-stage process through which these children move from seemingly normal kid to mass killer," said Mongan. "It is a phenomena in which we have to put many pieces together to find the story."

His theoretical attempts to understand the phenomena has led him to collect every publically accessible document pertaining to the Columbine High School shooting incident in Colorado. Mongan is scrutinizing it and other incidents such as the 2014 incident in Marysville, Washington, and those in Paducah, Kentucky, and Red Lake, Minnesota.

Mongan, at work this summer on a book proposal, has presented three times at the International Symposium on Children and Youth in Croatia. Domestically, he was accepted at the 2011 Society for Social Work and Research Annual Conference, and presented in 2010 at the American Society of Criminology.

Jun 9, 2015