Expert in Youth Violence Cautions that “Spring Fever” in Bullying Victims Can Show Itself in Unpredictable Violent Outbursts

Apr 10, 2014 by University Communications

Professor, author and expert witness Dr. James E. Shaw comments on Murrysville, PA, multiple-knifing attacks

Dr James ShawApril 10, 2014—Dr. James E. Shaw, a nationally recognized expert in youth and adolescent violence, believes that “spring fever” can lead victims of bullying to carry out unpredictable acts of violence late in the school year.

“We frequently focus on adults, particularly our military veterans, rather than on our school children, as sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, victims of school bullying often are repeatedly battered physically throughout the school year such that they manifest PTSD-like behaviors,” Shaw says.  Shaw's comments are aimed at the tragic multiple-knifing attacks by a 16-year old student at the Franklin Regional High School, in Murrysville, Pennsylvania. Twenty persons, including a security guard, were injured.

“With scant weeks left before school closes for the summer, victims of bullying often have little or nothing to show for the year they've been at school, except for massive and repeated shame and an abject sense of loss. The only things they can brag and swagger about are successes in carrying out acts of violence and making others pay for their disordered mental and emotional states.”

Shaw, author of the best-selling book Jack and Jill, Why They Kill and professor of psychology at California Southern University, further states that, “Even though it is not yet clear what caused this student to erupt in violence, the means and manner employed by him in carrying out his repeated physical acts show pent-up anger and galloping outrage, with a not-as-yet clearly known accumulation timeframe, except that he was not inspired overnight.” Shaw notes that the student's “parallel use” of two knives—one in each hand—“demonstrates his all-out mind, body and spirit commitment to carrying out his deadly acts.”

“The student's unnatural random selection of his victims shows that his world had been up-ended. His cognitive processes were in remission and he, as though primitively inspired, appears to have directed his internal state of chaos against anybody in the larger world—the world that flipped his own world upside down. Anybody and everybody he held accountable, yet, seemingly, nobody in particular. Such irrational reasoning is a telltale sign of a long-term victim of bullying and, in its explosion, entrenched PTSD.”


About Dr. James E. Shaw: Dr. James E. Shaw, professor of psychology at California Southern University, is the author of the best-selling book, Jack and Jill, Why They Kill, said on CNN to be the “smart answer for today's troubled times.” He has developed the B.R.A.V.E. (Be Resilient Avoid Violence Everywhere) violence education and prevention curriculum for middle and high schools, accepted and approved by the California Department of Education. He is a military courts-martial and superior court-certified forensic expert witness and a frequent provider of court testimony throughout the United States. A sought-after expert on youth violence, Shaw has appeared on ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today Show, CBS Eyewitness News, CNN and MSNBC.

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