Editor's Note: Dr. Frank Ochberg is clinical professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University and former associate director of the National Institute of Mental Health.
By Frank Ochberg, Special to CNN
(CNN) - School shootings are far more frequent in America than in other countries, although terrible massacres have occurred in Russia, Israel and several European nations. In the high-crime neighborhoods of inner cities, school turf is relatively safe. We have learned to harden the target and patrol with vigilance.
And even in those suburbs and small towns where spree killings have occurred, the rates, per capita, are lower now than in previous decades. School is a safe place – until, as in Chardon, Ohio, the unspeakable happens. Then, even though the risks are low, it is fair to ask, why does this still happen? Why here, in America?
Let's be clear. There is no single, certain answer to these questions. The possible factors include failure by classmates, parents and school officials to see the warning signs; bullying and revenge; serious mental illness; violent role models; drugs; access to guns, and a culture that condones extremism.
America has its share of these factors, but which are significant and which are more prevalent here than across the Atlantic?