Interview With Peter Langman, Ph.D.

Peter LangmanPeter Langman, Ph.D. is the relative of a local Women's Book Review reviewer, Loren Poley. When I learned that Peter had just published a new book, Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters," I asked if I could interview him for this website.

Peter, briefly tell us where you grew up and where you went to school. What is your doctorate in?

I grew up outside Philadelphia. My BA in psychology is from Clark University, my MA in counseling psychology is from Lesley College, and my Ph.D. in counseling psychology is from Lehigh University.

Why did this subject matter, why kids kill, interest you so much?

In the aftermath of Columbine, teenagers started coming through the psychiatric hospital where I worked and I was responsible for conducting psychological evaluations of them to help determine the risk they posed, figure out what their problems were, and recommend appropriate treatment. I became more and more interested in school shootings and began researching the topic. Eventually, I decided it was time to write a book.

Do you feel as though there are obvious signs that a youngster exhibits which reveal that youngster's potential for violence?

Violence can be hard to predict, but there are some things people can look for. A history of torturing and/or killing animals, for example, or a preoccupation with weapons, violence, and death. Any indication that someone is planning an attack needs to be responded to immediately.

It seems as though many youngsters who resort to violence were bullied while in grade school. Do feel that this is the main factor contributing to the rise of violence we are seeing in schools?

First, I would like to clarify a common misconception and point out that we are not seeing a rise in violence in schools. School homicides are down significantly from ten years ago. Our schools are safer now than they were in the 1990s.

The role of bullying in school shootings is complex. By itself, it does not explain school shootings. In some cases it is one of many factors. In other cases, it is not a factor at all. What I highlight in my book is that there are three distinct kinds of kids who commit school shootings: psychopathic, psychotic, and traumatized. In order to begin to understand school shooters, it is necessary to recognize the different types of kids who commit rampage attacks.

What recommendation can you make for preventing events as Columbine and Virginia Tech from happening again?

School shootings are best prevented by teaching students and staff what to look for in terms of warning signs, and having a threat assessment system in place to evaluate any potential threats that are reported. School shootings are not stopped by having security guards or metal detectors.

Have you written other books? If so, can you give us their titles and a brief synopsis of each?

My only other book is "Jewish Issues in Multiculturalism," which covers a wide range of topics including Jewish identity issues, the history and psychology of antisemitism, Jewish-Christian issues, the relationship between Jews and blacks, Jewish contributions to Western culture, and Jewish issues in counseling.

Have you ever written any fictional novels?

No, but I have a book of poetry titled "The Last Days of John Keats and Other Poems," and I am also a playwright. Two monologues ("Anorexia" and "Obesity Talks Back") from my play "Hunger" are published in "Young Women's Monologues from Contemporary Plays #2" (edited by Gerald Lee Ratliff). "Hunger" is a play about food, body image, and eating disorders. Details about my work as a playwright are available at

What project(s) are you currently working on?

Trying to get through the day.

Peter, is there anything else that you would like to tell our readers?

Yes, please tell your readers that I have a website: that includes documents and articles that supplement my book.

Thank you very much for your time!

Thanks for your interest in my work.

  • Join Our Email List
    For Email Marketing you can trust


    Send Out Cards


    Constant Contact

    Join Our Email List
    For Email Marketing you can trust