The Bureau of Investigation of the U.S. Department of Justice was developed in 1908. In 1935, this agency became the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Apart from undertaking intelligence operations, the FBI investigates different kinds of federal crime. Given that campuses have become the scenes of brutal killings, assaults, and violence in recent years, as part of its mandate the FBI is taking this problem very seriously and joining in investigations of criminal cases affecting schools. The FBI, through its different agencies, is analyzing the problem as well as suggesting methods to prevent unbridled school crimes. The spate of killings and escalating violence in places of learning has put the investigating agency on alert.
As early as 1953, the FBI had become involved in investigating campus crimes. In that year, FBI agents successfully solved the case of the Greenlease kidnapping, in which a six-year-old student at the French Institute of Notre Dame De Sion in Kansas City, Missouri, was kidnapped and murdered. The culprits were caught soon afterward and executed for the crime.
More than 45 years later, after the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado, on April 20, 1999, the Investigative and Prosecutive Graphic Unit of the FBI took a leading role in documenting the crime. By using hightech methods, investigators were able to reconstruct the sequence of events and movements of particular persons during the incident. The FBI’s data were a great help in the investigation, as the agency is equipped to do things that local police cannot. The FBI also conducted an in-depth study of school shootings after the tragedy at Columbine. It pointed to factors such as troubled relationships, frustration, selfish behavior, a sense of alienation, violent video games, easy access to weapons, and a sense of revenge as some of the primary reasons for the perceived escalation of school violence. In June 1999, the FBI held a special conference where a threat assessment perspective was emphasized rather than profiling of the potential school shooter.
The FBI was involved with the Red Lake shooting spree in March 2005, as it occurred on an Indian reservation. In this case, a 17-year-old student indiscriminately fired shots in his school, resulting in the deaths of 14 students and a teacher.
In the last several years, the FBI has published special reports and held conferences aimed at enabling all sorts of educational institutions to tackle violence on their campuses more effectively. In the wake of Virginia Tech massacre of April 16, 2007, the FBI again began an in-depth study, this time focusing on the unique issues faced by college campuses.
The FBI cannot completely eliminate school violence, but the agency has taken specific steps to counteract the horrendous social evil associated with these crimes. With 56 field offices dotted around the United States, the FBI is endeavoring to tackle the problem on a wide scale.
- Balcavage, D., & Schlesinger, A. ( Eds.). (2000). Federal Bureau of Investigation.
- New York: Chelsea House. Benedek, E. P., & Cornell, D. G. (Eds.). (1989). Juvenile homicide. Washington,
- FBI history: Famous cases. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/famous-cases
- Finley, L. (2007). Encyclopedia ofjuvenile violence. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
- Jeffreys-Jones, R. (2007). The FBI: A history. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
- O’Toole, M. (1999). The school shooter: A threat assessment perspective. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/school-shooter
- Reebel, P. (Ed.). (2002). Federal Bureau of Investigation: Current issues and background. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
- U.S. Department of Justice. (2007). Crime in schools and colleges. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/nibrs/crime-in-schools-and-colleges-pdf