Moral Panic, Fear of Crime, and School Shootings: Does Location Matter?

H. Jaymi Elsass, Jaclyn Schildkraut, Ross Haenfler, Brian V. Klocke, Eric Madfis, Glenn W. Muschert

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Scopus citations


    The concept of moral panic has been used to describe how society reacts to different threats, either real or perceived. Although most studies in this area rely on qualitative, historical data, recent efforts have employed quantitative applications of an attributional model to understand attitudes consistent with different characteristics of moral panic. The present study utilizes this model along with survey data from college students across the five U.S. regions to examine how perceptions of school shootings as a moral panic vary by location. The findings reveal significant differences by location, with students in the Southwest and West less likely than other regions to express hostile attitudes about the shootings or believe they are happening at disproportional rates. Southwestern students also were most likely to express concern related to defense (gun rights), whereas individuals in the Northeast were least likely to. Broader considerations for these and other findings also are discussed.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)426-454
    Number of pages29
    JournalSociological Inquiry
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - May 2021


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