February 28th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Why does America lead the world in school shootings?

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

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?

Warning signs

Students do not become mass killers overnight. They nurse their fantasies and they leak evidence. Insults, threats and plans are posted on websites. Classmates often know when a student is ready to strike back. Parents hear rumblings and have accurate gut sensations.

Within our country there are communities and neighborhoods and school districts that are relatively cohesive, vigilant and able to discuss warning signs of danger. There are some communities that are not as well integrated. They must be coached and helped.

After Columbine and Virginia Tech and other notorious school shootings, new programs to share information were developed and several plots were nipped in the bud. This evolution of information sharing occurs in other countries, but it is difficult to measure, nation to nation, who is ahead and who is behind. I see no proof that America is losing this race to improve detection of warning signs.

Bullying and revenge

We have too many bullies and too many youngsters at the mercy of bullies. But we also have a growing system of anti-bullying school programs. Despite rumors to the contrary, the Columbine killers were not bullied. There is no evidence that America, compared to other nations, has more bullies, more bullying, more victimization, and more victims who are ticking time bombs, hatching plots of lethal vengeance. However, we certainly can and should promote school programs that protect all children from stalking, hazing, and the new, evolving forms of abuse: Ostracism and humiliation through electronic social networks.

When boys are bullied they may fantasize about revenge. To dream of turning the tables on a bully is common to all eras, most cultures, and the source of drama, film and literature from the Elizabethan stage to the spaghetti Western. But whether a slowly evolving fantasy of mass murder is a product of mental illness, of bullying or of other sources, there are usually signs along the way.

Major mental illness

We do not have more major mental illness than most other countries. But we may be less caring of our mentally ill. Back in the Kennedy era, we launched community mental health programs to care for people with schizophrenia and similarly severe disorders, including depression. We wanted treatment available close to home, with compassionate supervision and with proper medication. We tried to stop the revolving door to the asylum, and, in fact, we tore down the large state hospitals. Our best intentions failed.

The program was never fully funded and our American system of care leaves much to be desired. The most serious mental illnesses, schizophrenia and depression, often become overt in adolescence. A boy who is smart enough to get into a good college becomes deluded, obsessed, strange, scary - and he gets rejected, isolated and stuck in a fantasy world. Those fantasies can become lethal. These forms of mental illness are seldom the source of homicide (far more often they torment and demoralize the disturbed individual). But when they are dangerous to others, we need good answers.

We do not have a sophisticated system of care and protection. If we did, Mr. Cho would not have killed 32 students at Virginia Tech. But America is really no worse than other nations when it comes to the numbers of seriously mentally ill, of violently mentally ill, of insufficiently treated violent mentally ill school-age boys. (Yes, we are talking about boys and young men; by far, they are the school shooters).

Violent role models

Violent role models, on the street, in the cinema, in the news, have been with us for as long as I recall, and are not limited to America. Back in the '60s, an American counter culture leader said, "Violence is as American as cherry pie." But other parts of the world, such as Northern Ireland, the Balkans, the children's armies of Africa, the terrorist camps of the Middle East, have their violent role models. Machismo is not an American word, nor is Hooligan.

Drugs

We do have drugs and a drug culture and aspects of this problem are more severe here than in many other parts of the world. Crime is connected to the drug trade and this crime can spill into the school. But the type of school shooting that occurs in the suburb is seldom connected to this urban issue. There may be an indirect connection, since drug wars arm young soldiers of drug wars, and arms are a large issue in America.

Access to guns

Access to guns is a significant factor in American school shootings. If kids could not and did not bring guns to school, we wouldn't have Columbine, Virginia Tech or Chardon, Ohio. There have been crimes with knives and bats and fists. But school shootings are gun crimes. Kids with guns kill kids at school.

I do not think America is an extremist nation, compared to other nations with bloody histories and despotic leaders. True, we have polarized political speech, and some of that speech is about access to guns. But the reason we have an American school shooting problem that exceeds other nations has to do with access to loaded weapons by kids who should not have that access.

I'm not offering a gun control solution. But any serious attempt to prevent school shooting will have to attack the problem by determining who should not be armed, and preventing dangerous boys from bringing guns to school.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Frank Ochberg. For more on the subject of school shootings, Dr. Ochberg recommends reading reports by the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI.

Topics: United States • Youth

soundoff (2,259 Responses)
  1. Steph

    It shocked me that this article stated the boys that were involved in the Columbine shooting, Dylan and Eric, were NOT bullied. I am hoping (and praying) that this was a huge typo because I know first hand that those boys were tortured day in and day out at the hands of several other students. No bullying will ever exscuse the act of killing, HOWEVER, to dismiss what those two went through, and to say that they just woke up one day hating the world is not only false, but just straight APPALLING! I read CNN news on a daily basis and it disgusts me that such a well known and well accredited journalist news source would post such a thing. Bullying is REAL! And kids around the U.S. are affected daily by the abuse of bullies. It is our lack of understanding and articles like this that truly keep the world of bullying go round.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:31 am | Reply
    • Nowie963

      Bullying is real as you rightly asserted, and your disappointment is understandable in response to the inaccuracies contained in the story about the two murderers at Columbine if indeed there were inaccuracies . However, your silence about the murdered victims speak a lot louder to the rest of us as to where your sympathies lie. This kind of rancid and downright inappropriate reaction to wanton acts of premeditation and murder, does help to effectively victimize the dead a second time! The easy access to guns, and a general lack of common sense among many incompetent parents, are factors that are in place to guarantee more of the same for generations to come.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:48 am | Reply
      • Steph

        Note I said that bullying will never excuse the act of killing. Pay attention to what you read before you write your rant

        February 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  2. malik

    incredible how we search for every excuse but the obvious. take away the tool.....guns. simple.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:36 am | Reply
    • Marine5484

      If you take the guns away from everyone then it will go to stabbings. The kid wanted a world where the other students looked at him in fear. Which suggests a deep level of narcissistic behavior and/or mental illness. Don't blame the gun...the kid wasn't even legally allowed to own one.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:34 am | Reply
    • Earnan M

      You want our guns? Molon Lave, little man.

      You'll get the bullets first.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:47 am | Reply
  3. David Casso

    There reason there are more school shootings in the US is because there are more schools in the US.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:01 am | Reply
  4. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    Simple solution. Arm all the students. Set up metal detectors at the entrances. Any kid who doesn't set off the alarm must accept a handgun in order to enter school or be sent home for the day.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:02 am | Reply
  5. Alan

    It's enlightening that the word "parent" is only mentioned TWICE in this entire article, and largely only in passing. We want to blame everything and everyone except for those who should have primary responsibility for the behavior of their children. Access to guns is obviously critical for such a crime, but it should be noted that children have been able to perpetrate shootings even in countries with far more strict gun controls than ours (e.g. Germany). So, while a temporary lapse in proper parental oversight could have allowed this child to gain access to a gun, years of blatant disregard on the part of the parents were required to allow this child's isolation and depression to progress to the point where he or she felt compelled to conduct a school shooting.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:22 am | Reply
    • Joel

      I think you've hit on it. There is very little parental responsibility mentioned, and even less personal responsibility. We talk about "kids" committing these crimes. I haven't verified this person's exact age, but he was in high school. Today that means probably 16 as a 9th grader in the second half of the year. I'm 37 and I knew long before I entered 9th grade at 13, that killing other people wasn't something that it was right to do just because someone wants to.

      February 29, 2012 at 3:03 am | Reply
  6. Paul Frennby

    I am sorry, but I am not buying into these simple solutions: bullying, prevalence to guns, etc. Admittedly it was 35 years ago, but when I went to high school I was bullied. My school also had a small caliber rifle range (.22) in the basement and a marksmanship team. I carried my match rifle to and from school. So did other teens. No school shootings. Hmmm.

    Could it be some other factor? Perhaps that our society today has determined that life is cheap; or that it must replicate a rap song's lyrics? I don't know the answers; only that the ones propounded here are too simple.

    Though terribly bullied; though fully equipped with the means and the skills; I never even harbored the thought of shooting any of my antagonists.

    Elimination of weapons is not the answer - they can be readily improvised. From those that kill a single person – A pencil to the ear or eye; a guitar string, with a pencil tied to each end, used as a garote; to those that could kill a whole classroom or school – a trip to the janitor's closet for some bleach or acid and another cleaner to produce chlorine gas or H2S.

    Let's look for the cultural shift that has permitted us to come to this point.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:30 am | Reply
  7. Aaron

    Taking away guns won't get rid of the guns in this country... We're beyond that so get over it.

    Teaching and enforcing responsible, safe gun ownership. The people who owned the weapons used in these crimes should be held just as responsible as the kids who used them. There is no excuse for not locking up your weapons.

    A positive, interesting learning environment in our schools. I hated school (high school specifically). The teachers were miserable because they were underpaid. The students were miserable because the classes were dull and boring because the teachers were miserable. The security was constantly on high alert because the kids were constantly trying to get away with whatever because it was so boring. It felt like prison.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:31 am | Reply
  8. Steadfast

    The sheer ignorance displayed in some of these posts says it all right there. Some of you are adults without the capacity to even partake in simple civil debate or back up self-proclaimed "facts" with any factual evidence. Adults who scream and yell, point fingers and call each other stupid, instead of making the attempt to see another's point of view. You can see the sheer violence within the arguments being thrown back and forth here just on this post, you can see how some of you cannot even enter a debate without getting fired up and aggressively attacking others. And you're raising children? You're teaching them proper conflict resolution? Before you condemn others, take a long, hard look at your own methods of socialize; you're own ability to cooperate with the rest of your fellow countrymen.

    Or, perhaps, its because we're on the internet, and therefore we can choose to throw manners out the door with the inherent anonymity that comes with "talking" behind computer screens.

    Almost all of the suggestions – save for a few – have been on extreme opposite ends of the spectrum (further showing just how damn divided this country is; even after everything we should have learned by now). Either completely outlaw guns, or allow for easier access for "protection" – these are the prevalent solutions within the arguments presented. That's it? A few have stated stricter gun laws, one suggested the outlawing of pistols; now we're getting somewhere. Now we're thinking.

    However, on the previous two extremes: completely outlaw fire arms or allow for easier access – you cannot do either because of some of the very opinions that have been stated already. If you completely ban guns, you will not be preventing criminals from illegally obtaining them. Look at the drug cartels in Mexico, the use of refurbished military-grade weapons by the militias of countries like Sierra Leone and Somalia, look at the very militants we're fighting in countries like Afghanistan. None of these weapons have been obtained through America's idea of "legal" gun purchasing. In addition, our country makes money off of international arms deals. You will not defeat the corporations that partake in those sales.

    Hell, look at Great Britain – for you Brits who want to constantly chime in. Guns are banned from the populace, but that hasn't stopped some of your criminals from obtaining and using them. Are the gun-less masses being mowed down by said criminals? Of course not.

    But they aren't being mowed down here either.

    Please understand, our culture has been raised with the gun; its infused within our very veins. You can't just cut it from the culture like you do a tumor. It would take decades of re-conditioning our society and that won't be happening overnight; not when profits are at stake for those who care little for the value of life in comparison to the dollar.

    On the opposite side of the spectrum, making guns even easier to acquire would be disastrous as well. Is this not a no brainer? They're the means to the end, as someone earlier stated. But making them easier to access will only increase the ability to acquire said means; thus creating more tragic endings.

    For those who argue responsibility? YOU – YOURSELF – might take responsibility. Congrats. Thank you for locking up your weapon. Thank you for teaching your child to respect the gun. Now, can you answer for every other gun-owning citizen? Can you back up – with factual evidence – that every gun owner in this country is a responsible adult?

    Stricter gun laws? Perhaps. But it'll be an uphill battle. The seeds of this evil aren't planted in the weapon themselves. As stated by others, human beings will find ways to kill each other if spurred to action, whether by evil motives or honorable defense. It matters not. Killing is part of human nature; it always will be. We have to address this from a social angle.

    As was stated before, our noble role models are absent. Our children are growing up isolated without enough guidance – proper guidance – from their elders. The nuclear family is pretty much abolished, but in some cases this isn't the fault of the parent. Single parents don't have the luxury of staying at home; they must work even harder to support their children. This gives children too much time without support or guidance from parents who are invested in teaching them right from wrong, how to find rational solutions to every day problems and how to keep their cool while under stress. Children need guidance. They need compassionate, but strict guidance. Most of all, they need to be infused with respect for themselves and others at an early age.

    The entertainment industry isn't helping, although I wouldn't blame it for the failures of absent parenting. That would just be doing what we're always doing: trying to find a scapegoat to blame. The heroes of our movies are more and more commonly the "anti-hero." Revenge-fueled, gore-infested, killing sprees are glorified. We can show someone being capped in the head on TV, but the female breast is still "taboo." We're a violence-fueled nation and we need to correct this. We aren't looking at the causes; we're looking at quick-fix band-aids, something our country is very good at doing. "Reactive; not proactive," to take from someone else's post.

    As for those of you who don't live in the U.S., but feel the need to condemn us... You don't even live here. Who are you to wag your finger and condemn those of us who are law-abiding citizens? Who are you to call us stupid, ignorant or "wackos." You condemn an entire nation by the actions of a few? I've always found it funny that Americans are stereotyped as being very ignorant about international customs; yet I've run into countless citizens of other nations who are just as ignorant, if not more so. It isn't an "American" trait; its world-wide.

    For the one guy who said the U.S. has dragged Canada into war through out history: WWI and WWII, you were called up by the British. Not us. You're part of the Commonwealth and therefore you fight for the Commonwealth when needed. There were also Indians, Australians, South Africans, Kiwis, etc. who fought in those wars because of the same Commonwealth ties. Don't blame us for the wars you've taken part in ALONGSIDE of us. This recent debacle in the Middle East? Your leaders chose to send your boys; not ours.

    This whole "let's hate on the U.S." is a tiring and long played out hatefest. Its old. We get the point. Thank you, now go back to worrying about your national concerns.

    Anybody else comparing European countries to the U.S. aren't making relevant points. While our culture is semi-similar to that of some European nations; it is also very different. The sheer size of our nation also sparks a whole new set of problems. For instance, when was the last time you witnessed a soccer riot on American soil? Or a drive-by shooting in the U.K.? Different ideals, different societies: different problems.

    In closing, we need to take responsibility for the social failures that are enacting these acts of violence. It isn't the gun, so much as the user. It isn't the ability to kill, so much as the motive to complete the deed. It isn't violence itself, but how we disrespect and abuse the ability to commit it in the first place.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:33 am | Reply
    • Michael

      Very well said.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:45 am | Reply
  9. Michael

    Doesn't help that we're a nation raised on first person shooter games and television programming that is largely made up of violent programs. How many CSI and crime dramas do we need to have on TV? Obviously games and TV can't make someone perform a violent act. They choose to act violently themselves but exposure to violence everywhere can't help. I walked out of a store the other day and a little kid...maybe 4 years old pointed a stick at me, said "bang bang bang, haha I killed you". There are a lot of other factors, yes I agree. I'm just saying we need to stop using television and video games as a babysitter. It all starts with the parents.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:38 am | Reply
    • Trey

      Unfortunately the entertainment media argument relies on the idea that humans don't inherently have the capacity to imagine/commit horrible things from birth. Which begs the question, if we weren't inherently born with such a capacity, how do we end up with this so-called "ultra-violent" society.

      Can we please stop blaming the entertainment industry/media? It's such a cop-out.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:00 am | Reply
  10. Trey

    We have such a long list of things children cannot do, there is no place for them to exert pent up aggression. The United States has become a nation of unfulfilled, repressed, self-deprecating politically correct drones.

    Kids can't physically fight in schools like they used to, so what's left? Psychological warfare. It's the wounds you can't see that cut the deepest.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:39 am | Reply
  11. european

    why?? because guns are LEGAL in the usa !!! why?? because anybody can buy a gun in the usa!! why?? because everybody has a gun in the usa !!!

    THAT'S WHY!!! there's your answere usa

    February 29, 2012 at 1:40 am | Reply
    • Earnan M

      The usual Eurotrash response.

      Must be those US laws to blame for school shootings in Germany, in Finland, in Hungary?

      February 29, 2012 at 8:11 am | Reply
  12. Nate

    One cause that was not mentioned is the media itself. As a recent graduate of college, I can tell you that as a young American, the media instills a degree of hopelessness in regards to our future, for those who choose to watch/ listen to it. Although most news organizations try to include positive reports, the majority of the information you see is extremely negative, which may push those at risk over the edge.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:47 am | Reply
  13. JeremyW

    School shootings, maybe, as USA has access to guns. Has anyone read about the maniac that ran around a elementry school in China and started stabbing children\teachers. Very sick.

    I think its strictly because of access to weapons. There are examples of this all over the world; the USA should not be put in the sport light for this.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/7644838/Chinese-man-breaks-into-school-stabbing-18-students-and-teacher.html

    February 29, 2012 at 2:02 am | Reply
  14. saul

    Guns, Guns & More Guns, No guns in these kids hands no problem.

    February 29, 2012 at 2:18 am | Reply
  15. bullet

    If the cigarette manufacturers and the automobile manufacturers and the drug makers can be held liable for their products why cant the same logic apply to the gun manufacturers? The NRA would back a law to allow nuclear weapons so the good ole boys could go out in the woods and play with them. This country needs some folks with common sense to lead it.

    February 29, 2012 at 2:25 am | Reply
    • Joel

      Cigarette manufacturers and automobile manufacturers and drug makers are held liable in these instances because of either defects in the products (ie, someone is harmed because the product does not act as it's supposed to) in the latter two cases, or, in the case of the tobacco companies, because of false advertising that mostly went on 40 years ago. They are held liable for their actions, not the actions of someone else. In many cases, even these lawsuits are often spurious and emotionally decided, and in many cases, decided in the wrong direction (in the cigarette lawsuits). Personally, at this time, no further lawsuits should be allowed accusing the tobacco companies of causing lung cancer for any actions after 1990. That is well into the period after clear warnings were in all tobacco advertising. It was well into the period after which tv ads and radio ads and school teachers were all making it clear that it caused cancer and other health problems. There has to be a level of personal responsibility. This is what the US is lacking in the 21st century in more and more areas. We want to blame other people for our poor choices. It's not McDonald's fault that you're fat. Heart Disease kills more people each year than guns do, you know. I'm well aware that there is a difference in that eating doesn't kill other people, and guns do. That does not give you the right to use one to kill someone else for whatever reason you wish and then to blame someone else, even if that someone is the person made the gun. They didn't manufacture it so you could commit murder.

      During the 19th century, fire-arm ownership per capita was much higher than it is today. fire-arm usage among children was even higher as a ration compared with today. Yet fire-arm crimes per capita were much lower, and more to the point, fire-arm accidents AND crimes with fire-arms when committed by children were drastically lower. Owning a gun isn't the problem. Not respecting the guns, and not respecting the law, or more importantly, not respecting right and wrong.. those are the factors which have changed in the past century which have caused the rise of fire-arm related crimes.

      February 29, 2012 at 3:03 am | Reply
  16. Josh

    Because we're FUQ'D.

    February 29, 2012 at 3:11 am | Reply
  17. Rob2002

    What is the root cause here? It's not the guns, it not the schools. The household is the root cause.
    Bring back the old fashioned household discipline – it was never broken. There was a time when we feared the punishment of our parents before we feared, school yard a bully, pure pressure, and even the law. This whole PC movement has unraveled the basic household fabric. Most kids these days have zero fear of their parents authority. You have parents "negotiating" with a 7 year old child. No negotiations, just do what you are told to do. As soon as today's parents grow a pair, and CPS gives the authority back to the household, crap like this will cease.

    February 29, 2012 at 3:26 am | Reply
  18. Cindy

    Why do you even mention Israel? The two school "shootings" that have taken place there are not 'shootings" but "terrorist attacks" (Ma'alot in 1974 and Jerusalem in 2008). BIG DIFFERENCE.

    Your comment is misleading.

    February 29, 2012 at 4:23 am | Reply
  19. JackWagon

    In the US we raise our children as "billy bad as" so that they can compete in the job market, etc, when they get older. And some people raise their children to be billy bad as because that's what we value in this country as parents. Then, billy bad as bullies the kids that are susceptble to allowing themselves to be bullied. Then some of them have as much as they can take and they go insane.

    February 29, 2012 at 4:28 am | Reply
  20. Alyn

    Parents are no longer present to RAISE the children they birth, whether it be from working too many hours, drug abuse, or a cycle of neglect...We have these vices down pat in America.

    February 29, 2012 at 4:51 am | Reply
  21. Gaunt

    In the early 1970s, The Murder rate in Canada overall was only marginally lower than the United States. Then, in the late 1970s, canada introduced a series of common sense legislations on regulating gun ownership. Gun licences were required, and obtaining such a licence required a short training course on firearm use and safety. Minimal background checks were implemented, and certain dangerous or repeat felons were prevented from getting a licence. Al,ll of certain classes of guns had to be registered.

    Within a few years, murder rates began to drop, in particular gun murder rates. They have dropped ever since, barring a small spike in the early 1980s. Now, canada has a murder rate of 1/3 that of the us, and the disparity is entirely due to gun murders. As an aside, the number of accidental shootings and suicides have also dropped.

    So to the gun-worshippers out there who claim guns have nothing to do with gun violence, could you please explain this disparity to all of us?

    February 29, 2012 at 5:01 am | Reply
    • @youignantdotcom

      You are really going to compare the US with Canada? Clearly not apples to apples. Take a look at Chicago and our gun related crimes and crime rates. One of the highest in the country, yet we have the strictest gun laws in the country. It's not citizens abiding the laws that commit the crimes, its the criminals breaking the laws, getting guns illegally off the black market.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:13 am | Reply
    • Earnan M

      That's odd. Statistics Canada-you know, the folks who actually collect Canadian crime statistics, compile them and publish them-doesn't agree with you.

      Statistics Canada says the murder rate more than doubled in Canada, from the late 1960s through the 1970s, and didn't start declining until the 1990s. The murder rate in Canada remains HIGHER today than it was before the laws banning many guns and requiring a PAL to possess a firearm.

      If you're going to lie to us, at least try to do a better job of it, m'kay?

      February 29, 2012 at 10:42 am | Reply
  22. Pink Flawed

    Regardless of the causes of school violence, the American answer will be to add more punishment and fines to children and adults.Instead of addressing the issues that cause school violence in the first place. The lame duck solution will be the same ole, same ole. Pass more restrictive stupid "feel good" laws that do nothing but try and clean up the spilled milk, instead of not spilling it in the first place. They will do things like send children to Juvenile for 2 years for carrying water pistils, and force parents to pay extremely high fines, as if that's going to fix the problem.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:06 am | Reply
  23. Chaky

    "I do not think America is an extremist nation, compared to other nations with bloody histories and despotic leaders", really??

    February 29, 2012 at 5:59 am | Reply
  24. peick

    Columnist, you are treating the symptoms rather than the root. Nowhere in your article do you acknowledge that people are screwed up. Nowhere do you mention faith or man's relationship to God. As long as you refuse to go there, you will never find the answer.

    February 29, 2012 at 7:40 am | Reply
  25. graybear

    When you bury the fact that all contemporary American school shootings are perpetrated by White boys in middle-class neighborhoods, you do a huge disservice to your readers. As a psychiatrist, you know the demographics, and that alone should point you to the systemic forces that seem to influence the decision to pick up weapons, enter a junior high or high school, and start taking people out (classmates and teachers, alike). What, pray tell, could be eating at White boys so much? You could've spent your entire article on this, but didn't. That's because it's invisible or if recognized, downplayed – even by you.

    February 29, 2012 at 7:58 am | Reply
    • EarnanM

      If that fact had been addressed, it would have lead to dealing with the next unpleasant fact: that violent outbursts of this sort are far far less common than the daily acts of murder commited by young Black men in the US.

      Black men make up a tiny portion of the US population, yet they are responsible for over half of the murders in the US.

      The death toll from White boys shooting up their schools is a drop in the bucket in comparison.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:15 am | Reply
  26. MARIANNE

    One of the biggest difference between American families and from other cultures is the dynamics of the family itself. In the US rarely you see the entire family having dinner together, where parents and kids take their time to talk and interact with each other. More often we see each family member eating alone, watching TV, or parents are not even present during meal time. Sitting down to eat together is different than interacting, listening and paying attention to each other. Observing signs of distress, problems in and out of school, and so forth. It's not an easy answer however the basis for a good family relies on the values and behaviors of parents. Pay attention to your kids. Listen to them. Be pro-active.

    February 29, 2012 at 8:42 am | Reply
  27. David

    "Despite rumors to the contrary, the Columbine killers were not bullied."
    -Are you serious? Have you no knowledge whatsoever of the shooting? Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were both bullied that's why they targeted anyone wearing a white hat. Listen to the interviews given by the then-students of Columbine High School and you'll see very clearly that bullying/revenge was the motivating factor

    February 29, 2012 at 9:44 am | Reply
  28. nodummyheads

    Tougher gun laws are not the answer. Holding parents accountable for their failings is. If parents leave firearms unsecured and their child uses one of those firearms to commit murder, the parents should be charged with accessory. Kids are not pets, nor are they status symbols (I'm looking at you Angelina Jolie), but they are serious responsibilities with serious repercussions for failing.

    February 29, 2012 at 9:47 am | Reply
  29. @youignanadotcom

    "Tougher Gun laws USA.... you have to or this will keep happening.... take your pick..."

    LOL look at Chicago. We have the strictest gun laws in the country and horrendous crime rates. Your opinion is only that...baseless, factless opinion and speculation.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:08 am | Reply
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