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School Shootings

Discussion in 'Alley of Dangerous Angles' started by NonSequitur, Mar 22, 2005.

  1. NonSequitur Gems: 19/31
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    Another fatal school shooting has occurred in the US, this time in far north Minnesota. Ten people are dead; six students (including the shooter), the shooter's grandparents, a teacher and a security guard.

    The point of this thread is not to have a rant about gun policy or gun control; it is about the factors that have lead to so many shootings at schools. It is easy to assign blame; it is much harder to point to the causes or a better path. In Australia, there has only been one such incident that I can recall (a student at RMIT opened fire in a lecture). Why is this happening so frequently - it is not as though *every* kid is a potential shooter, is it? Is there some sort of connection between the shooters, and if so, why/how has it manifested?

    This is about more than surface details; I want some ideas as to why exactly these kids feel as though killing teachers, their classmates and themselves is the "right" thing to do. All too often these rampages end in suicide. Why is it that in advanced, democratic countries like Australia and the United States, we have children going on killing sprees? What's causing it, and what can be done about it?
     
  2. Abomination Gems: 26/31
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    AFAIK the answer to your question is the "I'll show them!" mentality possessed by many teenagers (gods know I had it myself at one time - the mentality, not the urge to go shooting my classmates and teachers... although a few did deserve it believe-you-me!). It's not exactly the 'right' thing to do but it's almost always a form of revenge that the shooter feels he is owed usually against students who have given the shooter a hard time or somesuch.

    Because Americans have always had trouble dealing with problems. Always requiring lawyers or counselling to deal with issuse between two people or if failing that resorting to violence. Why this is is another matter that I can't explain. Pride? Access to guns? Detatched parenting? Inability to accept blame? (It's computer games that made Billy shoot up the school, not my parenting! I let him have everything he wanted!) But possibly the most reliable answer will be: pure supidity.
    Although you said that this isn't about gun control I'm afraid it is. The one constant in all these shootings is the presence of guns so obviously to stop shootings one should prevent students from having access to firearms. Access to a weapon alone presents a temptation to a troubled teen. Might as well put a big sign above it saying "Escape!" and an arrow pointing at the weapon.
     
  3. Cúchulainn Gems: 28/31
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    I blame it on the breakdown of family values. I think parents are trying to be 'best friends' with their children, rather than parents and I find that disburbing.

    It seems that modern children try to get their way by whining, crying etc to get their way - just general 'attention seeking', however this can develope into more extreme ways.
     
  4. AMaster Gems: 26/31
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    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/AO777958.html

    As that link's timeline shows, school shootings aren't restricted to western democracies, nor are they happening particularly often. According to the timeline, there were 27 school shootings in the US from 1996-2003. So figure four per year. In a country with a population of 300 million, that's insignificant.

    Also, school violence is nothing new. It's been going on for about eighty years (1927, a nutty farmer planted dynamite in a school. Killed 38, injured 52). Kid-driven school shootings have been going on at least since the '50s in America. If I were willing to research more extensively, I'd probably find incidents even earlier than those.

    It's not modern culture. It's not a result of a breakdown of family values. It's not rampant immorality. It's just the same old, same old.

    Ever fantasized about killing someone? When you were a child? Many people do. Some of those people realize that they can kill the person(s) they hate, and decide to do just that. For whatever reason, they don't feel they have anything to lose, or they feel what they have to lose doesn't matter. And so...

    Really? The Columbine shooters planted quite a few bombs throughout the school. Fortunately, since they were idiots, the bombs didn't work. Explain to me how bombs are a gun control issue, if you would be so kind.


    It's interesting that this issue gets plenty of media attention, but gang violence doesn't. I guess seventeen year old gangbangers aren't "kids", but the Columbine shooters were. Ah well.
     
  5. Abomination Gems: 26/31
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    I think that in looking at just the figures you're missing the emotional damage. People want their children to be safe at school. It's the last place shootings should be taking place. If people are going to be afraid of sending their children to school because one of their peers could be a rampaging loonie then the education system will need a major overhaul. In New Zealand we haven't had any (as far as I know) school shootings. Something to do with our population? Maybe? Something to do with our very strict gun laws? Probably.
    Then what is it? It must have SOMETHING to do with the family because these are children. Children are most influenced by their parents and obviously the way parents have been parenting will contribute to the school shootings. Same old? It might have happened before but they were not as frequent as they are happening today.[/quote]
    That's one case and as you stated the bombs didn't actually work. There have been no cases (that I know of) of schoolkids setting bombs in school and killing their peers and teachers without the children having guns as well. Every time it's been a kid with a gun. Without the guns I doubt the kids would have gone on their killing sprees. Whats more the fact remains that anyone can make a bomb using household products (the ingredients aren't illegal) so stopping bombs is impossible. However you can't make a gun from scratch using household materials.
     
  6. Cúchulainn Gems: 28/31
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    Its sad that you just accept this as a way of life. We don't get things like that in Ireland - any part! No-one bombs schools full of children and there are no drive-by shootings. We do not have metal detectors or a problem with chidren bring knives or guns into school.

    Even if you add up all our crimes (including acts of terrorism) its still much lower than the average US city.
     
  7. Morgoroth

    Morgoroth Just because I happen to have tentacles, it doesn'

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    I don't think that Finland has had any schoo shootings but we had some whacko youngster blowing up a bomb in a shopping mall and I'd assume the reasons were pretty much the same. I think the issue is sociological. The ones who do this are mostly lonely and depressed persons who for one reason or another do not fit into the school climate.

    In Finland there has long been talks about what to do with these individuals and it's really difficult to find a solution. More strict policies have been enforced on schools to prevent isolation of individuals and violence for occuring in schools. Unfortunately this has been ineffective and no real solution has been found and I doubt that solution ever will be found. It would require a change in human behaviour and I just don't see that happening. :(
     
  8. ArtEChoke Gems: 17/31
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    I think it has something to do with the, "treadmill of life" we're put on when we're born in this country (U.S. - I can't possibly speak for other countries).

    From the point we enter kindergarten we're constantly told by teachers, our parents and every adult/authority figure, that we have to get good grades in elementary school, so we can get into the good classes in high school, so we can get into a good college, so we can go get a good job and get married and procreate and start the mess all over again.

    We're warned that any dent in this plan at any point along the way screws it all up from there on, and you're doomed do be, "unsuccessful."

    If you get a, "C" on that math test... you can't get into a good college! Its a modern day boogeyman.

    Of course this doesn't apply to everyone, but I do believe its pretty much accepted dogma across the country, and a parent who's only interaction with their kids is to reinforce this, "plan" does nothing to ease the tension (or monotony for that matter).

    So maybe a kid is socially awkward, and his grades aren't so good. He gets no support from his family other than the, "you need to improve your grades, or you can't get into a good college" mantra. He can't see a possible future for himself, socially or academically and hates those he sees as responsible for it (the teachers and other students). He kills the people he percieves as responsible, and kills himself, because his, "plan" is all screwed up.

    Well that's my take on it.
     
  9. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    They're psychopaths. Columbine was extensively planned out. Most of the mass killings show a high degree of planning -- this will probably be the same. The goal at Columbine was to cause mass destruction and kill a lot of students. The two little bastards wrote how famous they would be and that they'd go down as the greatest serial killers of all time -- they were sick, very sick.

    The problem is psychopaths are a part of society. They exist in some small percentage, but as the population of the world increases so does the number of psychopaths. There is no way to cure a psychopath, you just hope someone will recognize one before he or she goes off. If recognized for what they are, the sicko SHOULD be put in an institution for life. Not pretty, not fair, but it's to only way to keep psychopaths from killing.

    We live in a WORLD (not just America -- that comment was pure BS) that glorifies such behavior. We have hit movies about it, mass killers get on TV, they get their 15 minutes of fame and get to go down in the history books. Granted, the US press is FAR too liberal in broadcasting such things and actually give the little psychopaths the publicity they want. Britain has a great way of handling these event (or they used to) -- just don't put the little bastards on TV, don't put their names in print. It seems to help.

    Socialogical, yes, we allow people in general to get away with too much. I think in America we put too much emphasis on individual rights and not enough on the needs of the society. We don't get the psychopaths put away soon enough -- there is no such thing as putting someone away for the greater good. We have to wait for a crime to be committed and then it's too late.

    Good parenting would help. Too many parents are too into themselves and not getting into the business of their kids. EVERYTHING a child is doing is the parent's business. The kids out there may not like it, but parents SHOULD be ransacking the bedroom, checking in the closet and looking carefully at things the kid is doing in the garage. If a couple of parents in Littleton would have done ANYTHING there would never have been a Columbine massacre.

    Good parenting will also help with that confused kid who wants revenge -- if you teach your kids what is and is not acceptable, bringing the gun to school to take out the bully will never happen.

    We had a thread a while ago 'Absurd Terrorist Threat Charges' -- just how absurd are they? How serious should the police take threats to schools? I argued then the police did the right thing in arresting the kid and investigating -- there was no killing spree in Kentucky (maybe the kid wasn't going to do anything, but the police certainly made sure he wasn't).

    AMaster: That insignificant comment was flat out wrong. Killing of children is NEVER insignificant. I had a family member at Columbine. The kid sitting next to him in the cafeteria was shot in the face. Several of his friends were killed. And a long time friend of the family was killed when he tried to stop those two little bastards. It's been argued the Columbine attack was a terrorist attack (domestic, criminal terrorist). It was designed to strike fear into an entire nation and change the way we respond to school safety. It worked.
     
  10. Morgoroth

    Morgoroth Just because I happen to have tentacles, it doesn'

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    I would be careful when using this word. Being a psychopath is a psychic disease and is in no way related to all cases of school shootings or school violence. Condemning all the wrong doers as psychopaths beyond help is of course an easy way for the society to escape its own responsibility for producing these individuals, but the easy is not best way in this case. While I agree they are sick, the sickness they have is not uncurable and the important thing is to detect this sickness before it erupts.

    While I agree that it's dangerous to give people ideas, setting the line would be difficult. Also to just sweep the issue under the matt is not exactly the right way to deal with it. It is important to have public discussions about these issues and how they can be solved. I do however agree that the way the media often handles these cases is often queastionable to say the least.

    These are issues where punishment is more or less insignificant, especially when the school shooters very often take away their own lives. You can threaten with capital punishment and medieval torture but it just won't affect the issue in any way.

    While I do agree that parental ignorance is a great problem in these cases one must also try to understand that the problems these parents often have to face with their children are very complex. A parent no matter how good they are can't follow each step their children take and each step they do. Childern and especially teen-agers need their privacy and you just can't take that away from them entirely.

    Teen-agers do not allways follow the moral code set up by their parents. They are individuals who can think and act by themselves. No matter how good you are as a parent, you can't allways control all of your childern's activities.
     
  11. Barmy Army

    Barmy Army Simple mind, simple pleasures... Adored Veteran

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    Whos to blame? well its difficult to say.

    Parenting, family, friends, culture, peer pressure, teachers, popular culture and imaging, all ahve to take a share of the blame (theres other things as well but I can think of them)

    Gun Laws certainly didnt help to stop the situation, harder to obtain guns may have stopped this, it also may not have, likewise all the other incidents, the gun didnt kill people, the person pulling the trigger did, and thats the more important point to reddress.

    A lot of it comes down to that persons perceptions of himself and his reactions to others and their reactions to him, what he does for other people, and how he feels about what they do or dont do for him in return. It can be seen as depression, and at that age image is all important so its hidden well, its not the doen thign to admit your feeling like a loser. There are groups of people who should notice this, either by training (teachers...) or by skills and identifiaction that comes wih the responsibility of certain jobs (parents)

    Iam no expert and some who are more qualified may shoot me down, its only soemthing Ive found out about recently, and only reading articles and what not and making opinions based on what I read.

    As for why it happens more over there than over here, well, at a guess Id say its more to do with our cultures, here its all about bottling it up and being strong, which can result in self harm, whereas over tehre its a more blame culture, and people taking out there frustrations out on other people.

    But thats just me pissing in the wind my thoughts.
     
  12. RuneQuester Gems: 9/31
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    *Chuckling that someone actually pointed to Ireland as an example of the mythological haven of non-violence.


    Adding to what AMaster and T2 and others have said...

    Children are already subject to feelings of inadequecy and deep longings for acceptance and revernace, from the word "go". Whether this leads someone to conform to the general trends of his peers(be it "hip-hop clothing, music and mannerisms) or rebel against such trends(re: punk rock, goth) is not even of much importance. Punks and goths will gravitate to like-minded peers within school if such exist but the important thing is that if there is something about your appearance, speech-patterns, the way you walk etc. that sets you apart from others within your peer group, you may well end up the victim of bullying and degradation. This leads to feelings of isolation...not belonging.
    When one feels isolated from his own SPECIES you have a recipe for disaster. The disaster may manifest in mass murder, suicide, serial rape and a variety of other acts.

    I don't think you can point to one thing or even a few simple things like parenting or access to guns as the culprit. How much any given factor(be it bad parenting or easy access to firearms) plays in a resulting tragedy can only be determined on a case-by-case basis.
     
  13. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    [​IMG] I've seen some unfounded generalizations in this thread already - please make sure that I don't see any more.

    As for

    Err... in my opinion (and I'll say common sense prevails in this case), the easy access to guns is the primary factor for so many shootings in schools in the US. The "guns don't kill people - people do" slogan is total BS and probably something NRA came up with. Kids without guns don't go around on killing sprees in schools. Guns are exactly the kind of tools kids going on killing sprees need - they are impersonal and can kill from a distance, while still giving the person using them a feeling of supremacy and "direct feedback", as well as the option to use them on whoever they want to at the moment. An extension of the psyche of the kids who commit these mass murders, in short.

    In Slovenia, there hasn't been a single case of a school shooting - ever. True, we're a small country, but our suicide rate is near the top in the whole world, so we're prime candidates for such mass shootings. But they don't happen, anywhere. Why? Because guns are damn hard to come by, expensive, and you need to actually work hard to get a licence that allows you to own one (not to mention be mentally stable to pass the tests). So I'm really amazed that topics of what is the cause of all the US school shootings still come up. It's perfectly clear - you just need to look everywhere else why these things don't happen at all (or not even remotely as often). Of course, given the situation in the US it's practically impossible that the situation could be improved in any way (the sheer thought of limiting access to firearms in any way is blasphemous to the majority of people), so I guess the US schools will just need to be secured and policed all around, so no guns can be smuggled in. Of course, this is not doing anything to address the actual root of the problem, but short of limiting access to guns, nothing really would.

    [ March 22, 2005, 23:26: Message edited by: Taluntain ]
     
  14. Tassadar Gems: 23/31
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    I agree with Tal. You don't see mass stabbings at school now, do you?
     
  15. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    Precisely. It's exactly the nature of firearms which is the most important factor in all these mass killings. If someone went on a killing spree with any non-ranged and/or non-automatic weapon, they could be subdued much faster, before they managed to kill a few dozen people. Or ran away from. And the crazies realize this as well, that's why they don't do it like this. It has to be dead easy (excuse the pun) to maintain total control - only guns afford them this luxury. If this isn't an option, the nutcases simply have to find a different outlet. Hopefully suicide, because that way they at least don't hurt (physically) anyone else in the process. Come to think of it, there's probably a link here to our suicide rate I mentioned. Heh. I wonder if anyone ever did any studies on this...
     
  16. AMaster Gems: 26/31
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    They could be subdued faster, certainly. On the other hand, if someone who knew how to use a sword brought one to school (those aren't difficult to obtain), I imagine they'd inflict a fair amount of harm before being brought down.

    And there's always suicide bombing...

    T2: I'm sorry. That was poor phrasing on my part. Your point's well taken.
     
  17. The Magpie

    The Magpie Balance, in all things Veteran

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    Too true! I remember after the Dunblane massacre about 10 years ago, Prince Philip made some daft comment about banning guns making about as much sense as banning cricket bats or golf clubs. Daft, because whilst a man wielding a cricket bat may be able to beat soeone to death, he couldn't do so from 100 yards away, and he couldn't kill many people quickly.

    Where guns are easily available, these kind of killings are easier to accomplish. Granted, not all of Britain's problems have been solved by the ban - illegal guns are still a large problem - but this specific kind of mass murder, where usually law-abiding people lash out, is exactly what gun control was made to stop.

    That's why the issue of gun control is inseparable from that of school shootings: so often you're dealing with cases where the weapons were obtained legally. It is also why 17-year-old "gang bangers" are more often ignored, because it's a whole other issue, more to do with the problems of class & poverty in society. Much more complex, and less "glamorous", if that's the right word.

    That's my two penneth, anyway.
     
  18. NonSequitur Gems: 19/31
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    Tal/Tassadar,

    I made that statement specifically because I didn't want this to turn into an argument about the right to bear arms, as I expected it might. I agree that easy access to guns is a factor, and probably the biggest one, in school homicides. I would argue, though, that if such weapons were not available, that one of two things would happen: the rate of student-perpetrated homicides would be reduced, and that some of the would-be shooters would find other means to commit such acts. It wouldn't be as easy, true, but it probably wouldn't stop schoolyard killings either.

    The fact that these weapons are available is not the only reason for these incidents and fatalities. Not every kid whose parents have a gun in the house will use it on their classmates. It does make these events worse than if they were limited to a melee weapon, although there would still probably be deaths. The kids who stab a classmate get suspended or expelled; it doesn't make front page news, because kids getting pummelled at school isn't what people want to hear about.
     
  19. Viking Gems: 19/31
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    Whilst this is undoubtedly true, I think it is fair to say that all the perpetrators of US School Killings have had access to firearms at home.

    With no such access it very likely that a great number of the instances of such killings would not have happened. Pretty simple corollary to be honest.

    Perhpas we do need another gun control thread so we can discuss this in more detail?
     
  20. Istolil Gems: 5/31
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    Access to firearms is a major point but I would see it more as the final ingredient. The nudge over the cliff so to speak. I don't know if there's been any school shooting here in Canada, I know one was planned but foiled just recently...but many factors lead to a child deciding to get a gun and actually use it. In a lot of schools here they have peer student peer counselors. The idea is to defuse the potential risk by opening the doors of communication to students who may feel isolated, bullied etc...In most of these cases the killers were socially isolated with nothing to lose and no other choice (they felt) and no one to turn to for guidance, support or affection. Guns are a big thing, no access to them means no shootings but we have to look at the big picture as well.
     
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