compiled by Dee Finney

4-18-01 - VISION - I was seeing the outline of a long black train forming in front of me. It started with the engine and worked it's way back through the train cars. On the engine, it said, "Please recall" ... then started to show me names of all kinds of products ...I was thinking to myself, 'hmm, they are going to recall something'  ... then I realized that it was asking me to remember something from the  past.

I saw a woman then came to me then and handed me a stack of yellow legal pads, notes, and other papers about 2 inches thick. She said, "We are ready for you to start work on the Padukah, Kentucky case.


Padukah, Kentucky -

Dec. 1, 1997 - Three students were killed and five others wounded in a hallway at Heath High School in West Paducah, Ky. One girl is left paralyzed. A 14-year-old student pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murder and is serving life in prison. When asked why he did it, he said he didn't know. 

The parents of the deranged teen who shot and killed other teens at his school  in Padukah, Kentucky have decided to sue Sony, Nintendo, Sega, and Time Warner to apparently make up for their complete lack of parenting. Movies and video games do NOT make psychos. There are plenty of people who aren't potential killers, yet they have played violent video games since their pre-teen days and have watched R rated movies since then as well. 

In West Padukah, Kentucky, Michael Corneal opened fire on a prayer group. Few explanations have be found, other than Michael felt powerless and picked on, so he struck out in anger at the world.

In the case of Michael Carneal, raised in a house with no firearms, never allowed to touch a real gun, the boy was given an arcade style first person shooter video game, and allowed to play it as many hours as he wanted.  On the day of his rampage, the boy stole a .22 pistol, fired a few practice rounds with it, and went to school. He approached a prayer group, planted his feet, and fired 8 rounds.

Armed, alienated and adolescent

"I am not insane. I am angry. I killed because people like me are mistreated every day. I did this to show society, 'Push us and we will push back.' " - letter from Luke Woodham, suspect in Mississippi's high school shooting spree in October 1997.

It's difficult not to draw quick conclusions from the shooting rampages at schools over the past five months that have left nine children and two adults dead and 24 others wounded.

In each of the three cases, the melees occurred at rural schools in the South.

Most of the victims were targeted randomly.

The suspects were adolescent, alienated and armed.

But experts warn that parallels between the shootings are more complicated. The suspected shooters may be linked not so much by circumstances as a common mentality.

"It would be one thing if these kids had happened to be carrying weapons to school and opened fire during a fight," says criminologist Gary Goldman, author of the book Books and Bullets: Violence in the Public Schools.

"But these attacks were planned. This wasn't a spur-of-the-moment thing. These boys had a chance to think things over. And calmly, coolly, they decided to take care of matters with pistols and rifles."

None of the suspects has been found guilty.

Two students and one adult died in Pearl, Miss.; three children were killed in Paducah, Ky.; and four students and one teacher died in Tuesday's rampage in Jonesboro, Ark.

In each case, the suspected shooters apparently had trouble adjusting socially.

In the Pearl and Jonesboro slayings, police say, two of the three suspects were distraught after being jilted by girls.

They and the suspected Paducah shooter also were associated with fringe groups at school. Luke Woodham, 16, the Pearl High School senior accused of stabbing his mother to death and fatally shooting two students in October, had formed a morose circle called "The Group," which based itself on violent and anti-Christian writings of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

Michael Corneal, 14, who was charged in December with firing on fellow students in a prayer circle at Heath High School in Paducah, hung out with a small band of students who were fascinated with the occult, school officials and police say.

And one of the two suspects in the Jonesboro slayings, Mitchell Johnson, 13, had boasted of joining a gang.

More ominously, the suspects in all three cases warned of violence to come.

Woodham, police and students say, wrote and passed around a "manifesto" before the spree. In it, he wrote that "murder is not weak and slow-witted. Murder is gutsy and daring."

Corneal, classmates later told authorities, warned several students three days before the rampage that "something big is going to happen."

Students at Jonesboro's Westside Middle School recall Johnson telling several of them the day before the slayings that he "had a lot of killing to do," and that they would learn the next day "whether you live or die," according to Associated Press reports.

In each case, classmates said they did not report the incidents because they did not take them seriously.

"Every kid spouts off now and then," Houston child psychologist Pamela Harrison says. "That's always been the case. What's different now is the accessibility children have to weapons, to drugs, to the kinds of things that can do real harm to themselves or someone else.

"Schools have to start emphasizing to students that when they hear a classmate say he wants to kill himself, or kill someone else, they must take it very seriously," she says. "And adults have to act immediately. Because there is recipe for a troubled kid."

If the suspects are similar in some ways, they are different in others.

Woodham was distressed over his parents' divorce.

Corneal came from a two-parent home and is the son of a prominent defense lawyer.

A second boy charged in the Jonesboro incident, Andrew Golden, 11, is the son of postmasters.

Little is known of Johnson's family.

Woodham's high school has more than 1,100 students while Corneal's has 600.

Johnson and Golden attended a middle school with 250 pupils.

"You could spend the next five years trying to figure out if big schools or single parents or a violent movie drove these kids to this," Goldman says. "But the only real common thread is that they saw the way to get rid of their problem was to get rid of other people. I'm not sure there is a simple way to explain a tragedy like that."

And there is no simple way to forget, survivors of the shootings say.

"We are getting better," says Gwen Hadley, whose 14-year-old daughter, Nicole, was among those killed at Heath High School in Paducah. "But this is something we, or the parents of the victims in Jonesboro, will never get over."

By Scott Bowles, USA TODAY



Westside story - Jonesboro, Arkansas

Two weeks after the Arkansas school shooting, some of the pieces to the puzzle of this story of juvenile crime and small-town gangs are evident; others remain missing

By Roy Maynard  

(in Jonesboro, Ark.) - In a broken voice, Scott Johnson talks of a respectful boy who loves sports and went to church. "My son is not a monster," he says of 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson, one of the two boys who allegedly lured classmates out of Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Ark., on March 24 and then opened fire, killing four girls and a teacher, and wounding 10 other students.

No, not a monster, but perhaps a puzzle, certainly a paradox. How can two children be multiple murderers?

In like manner, everything about the Jonesboro tragedy seems jarring and incongruent. At a jam-packed memorial service on March 31, dedicated secularists such as Attorney General Janet Reno and Education Secretary Richard Riley stood uncomfortably as Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's words were read: "I'm more convinced than ever that the real hope for humanity is not in the laws we pass but in the Lord who provides his grace for the days when there is no adequate human answer."

Miss Reno countered with a monotone admonition: "We cannot lose faith in human goodness."

The national press, by nature uncomfortable with puzzles, has packaged the Jonesboro story as a straight piece on gun control. But it's not that simple. The guns have always been here, in rural Arkansas and everywhere else in the nation. The question remains, what has changed, and why?

The shootings came on a Tuesday just after noon. Sixth-grader Emma Pittman says she watched Andrew Golden, 11, pull a fire alarm outside a classroom at Westside Middle School. More than 200 students and teachers filed out of the building. That's when students saw Andrew "Drew" Golden and 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson open fire. Four young girls and a teacher were killed. Ten others were injured. Minutes later, the boys were captured running through the woods toward a stolen van. On the boys and in the van, police say, were at least 10 firearms, reportedly stolen from Drew Golden's grandfather.

Dead were Paige Ann Herring, 12; Natalie Brooks, 11; Brittany Varner, 11; and Stephanie Johnson, 12; as well as 32-year-old teacher Shannon Wright. The two boys last week were being held in the juvenile section of the Craighead County jail.

The Jonesboro shootings may raise deeper cultural questions than the school killings in West Paducah, Ky., last December. Michael Corneal, the 14-year-old who allegedly opened fire on a before-school prayer meeting, came across as a disturbed misfit with no history of trouble or violence. But both Drew Golden and Mitch Johnson are reported to have talked openly about violence and gang activities. As in Jonesboro itself, the warning signs were ample and evident. If Paducah was about the tragedy of something going terribly wrong in a single youth, then Jonesboro is about the tragedy of what has gone wrong in the way many American youths are raised-and why gang culture has become a threat even in small towns such as Jonesboro.

The boys

Reports suggest that last summer Mitch Johnson showed signs of trouble. Last week, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press reported an accusation that Mitch molested a little girl while he visited Minnesota last summer, according to his aunt and a former neighbor. "It happened," Mitchell Johnson's aunt, Linda Koelsch, said. "He did it." The boy was charged with inappropriately touching the girl, who was about 2 at the time, a source close to the investigation said.

After returning to Arkansas, though, Mitch attended a weeklong youth revival in September. On the first night, he walked the aisle, approached a counselor, and prayed to accept Christ as his savior. Now, six months later, Central Baptist Church youth minister Christopher Perry says he's troubled by the two vastly different images of the boy that have emerged.

"During that revival, 280 kids came forward," says the minister, who wears the proper youth minster goatee. "I've thought back, and there was nothing about Mitch's profession of faith that was any different from any of the others. I just ... all I can think of is Jesus' parable of the seeds. Some fell among rocks."

Mr. Perry says church leaders tried to be faithful in their followup after the revival, but after a month of being active in the youth group, Mitch dropped out. Some kids later told Mr. Perry that Mitch was becoming a bully. He was angry about his parents' divorce, they told the minister, and he was angry that he didn't see his father much.

But since January, Mitch had been frequenting the Bono Revival Tabernacle Pentecostal Church in Bono, the small town bordering Jonesboro where he lived with his mother and stepfather. William Holt, the pastor there, says Mitch's mother would drop her son off, and Mr. Holt would take him home. Mr. Holt spoke about Mitch's manners. "You don't find a lot of kids these days that say 'yes sir' and 'no sir,'" he said.

But his classmates tell another side of the story. Mitch talked often about gangs and violence, they say. He doodled gang symbols during class (and teachers saw this). He would pretend to shoot other kids, or stick his finger in their sides, as if he had a gun. He picked on other students. He boasted of pulling a knife on another student.

And the day before the shooting, he told classmates he had "a lotta killing to do." He told one, Melinda Henson, that "tomorrow, y'all are gonna find out if you live or die." No one related the threats to school officials or even their parents; most now say they thought he was just talking.

Some students said it might have something to do with girl trouble; some kids "go steady" at this early age, and 12-year-old Candace Porter had recently broken up with Mitch because, she says, his gang talk bothered her. Candace was one of the students wounded on that Tuesday.

Drew Golden, the other alleged shooter, was also flashing gang-related hand signs. Some kids say that of late, he had taken to bicycling around his neighborhood wearing camouflage clothes and carrying a hunting knife, which he would use to threaten other children.

Three months ago, the father of one of Drew's friends went to a school counselor. Edward Woodard, a Jonesboro electrician, said that Drew told his young son about a plan to come to school and shoot people. The counselor talked to Drew, according to Mr. Woodard, and Drew admitted the plan. But he said he'd had a nightmare about such a scenario; in the dream, Mr. Woodard says, Drew died, too, and that "scared him off his plan." School officials have not confirmed Mr. Woodard's story, but one tale has been confirmed: The night after the shooting, 11-year-old Drew Golden curled up on his bed in a juvenile lockup and cried for his mother.

Sheriff Haas has cried, too. "These are babies," he says.

The details simply aren't available about the family life of these boys. There doesn't seem to be any indication that either of the Goldens, both postmasters in nearby towns, were active in any church. Mitch Johnson's mother and stepfather would drop him off at youth group meetings and Sunday services, but ministers didn't say they attended themselves.

For now, at least, the families are being shielded from the press by law enforcement officials.

The town

Late in March, Richard Williams's big Mercury Marquis slid through the streets of downtown Jonesboro, Ark., under old oaks just beginning to bud.

"Jonesboro was and still is one of the greatest places in the country to raise your children," said the bearded, polished former pastor. "The churches are strong, the schools are strong. Really a wonderful place."

Mr. Williams's own presence belies the claims. He now works with CityTeam, a California-based Christian group that focuses on typically urban ills such as juvenile crime, homelessness, and poverty. If Jonesboro is so idyllic, why is CityTeam here?

He let out a breath and admitted, "That's a good question. Well, civic leaders in Jonesboro were thinking ahead; they saw some indications that some problems were beginning to emerge."

In fact, studies showed juvenile crime in Jonesboro had jumped 471 percent from 1986 to 1995. The dropout rate was hovering stubbornly near 27 percent. And a juvenile crime task force estimated that 60 percent of the teens had experimented with drugs, while as many as 75 percent of the high-schoolers were sexually active.

Mr. Williams's long, gray car entered the more depressed areas of the city. He passed boarded storefronts and shabby warehouses, then slowed down at a downtown lot where a freshly poured concrete slab can be seen. Eventually, this will be a 15,000-square-foot youth center, to be run by CityTeam and funded by the community.

"Jonesboro isn't a sleepy little town anymore," Mr. Williams said. "The gangs are here. We have the signs spray-painted on the buildings. I remember when I was pastoring here, and I would open the Jonesboro Sun and see one or two break-ins reported in a week. Now we have 10 or more a day. That's the tip of the iceberg."

The gangs

Jonesboro Sun Publisher John Troutt has a handsome, craggy face, a tailored suit, and a serious smile that never quite reaches his eyes. And he's got a calendar chock-full of community involvement-Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce committees, and various task forces.

Mr. Troutt helped bring in CityTeam last year, but he's still reluctant to speak freely about the town's troubles. "We knew there were problems on the horizon," he slowly intones, leaning back in his chair. "In some senses, the youth seemed to be rudderless-trying to go astray. It's happening everywhere, and it's part of Jonesboro's incredible growth. We went from 30,000 in 1980 to 55,000 today. And many of us were feeling it was time to address these issues."

His reporters have been writing of serious and documentable gang activity for nearly a decade. In the late 1980s, a Chicago gang called Folk Life or Folk Nation set up shop in Jonesboro's Apartment City and other housing projects. Other gangs have come up from Little Rock.

The spread of gangs is not so much about the search for new markets as it is about gang parents' belief in the myth of small-town safety, according to the FBI. Relatives will move a gang-member child out of the city and into rural areas, in the hope of removing him from gang influences-but he often brings the gang culture along with him. Also, new kids on the block who had no real previous gang involvement will invent tales to tell their new acquaintances, gaining in the process easy, instant status.

Gang expert Steve Nawojczyk, the former county coroner in Little Rock, says there's no such thing as wannabe gang members. "If a kid believes he's in a gang, he's in a gang. I call them teenage mutant gangsters. There's no real connection with the Bloods or the Crips in L.A., but they adopt the culture from what they see in the media. I think they're even more dangerous than the connected groups, because they're out there making up their own rules."

Mr. Nawojczyk began seeing an increase in gang activity in Pulaski County (Little Rock) in the mid-1980s. "The homicide rate started to increase," he says. "And it was all kids." He began to see gang tattoos on the bodies of children he examined. Some of the spread was economic opportunism, he explains-gangs wanting easier ways to obtain guns and sell drugs-but most of it was media-influenced. The movies Colors and Boyz in the Hood, and "gangsta" rap music, were effective recruiting tools.

The granddaddies of the gangs are the L.A.-based Crips and Bloods. The Crips gang developed among black youths, too young to have participated in the Watts riots of the 1960s ("Crips" is probably a variation of "Cribs," a designation of many small street-level groups that indicated the youthfulness of the members). Once the Crips organized, opposing gangs grouped together for self-defense. They choose the color red, the opposite of the Crips' blue, and called themselves the Bloods.

Chicago's gangs formed two camps also: Folk Nation (or Folk Life) and the Vice Lords. Later, the Folk Nation gang allied itself with the Crips, and the Vice Lords joined with the Bloods. Other gangs, such as the Gangster Disciples and the Latin Kings, have made similar alliances.

In Jonesboro, Mitch Johnson had shown some sophistication, according to the reports of his friends. He was often seen writing "Crips Killer" on dirty windowpanes-that's a common tag left by Bloods gang members.

The predators

In 1996, Princeton professor John DiIulio, along with former anti-drug officials Bill Bennett and John P. Walters, published a sobering book, Body Count. The book described "the coming superpredators," juvenile offenders who could become the most conscienceless, brutal criminals in recent history, because they have grown up "fearing neither the stigma of arrest, pains of imprisonment, nor the pangs of conscience."

Mr. DiIulio states unapologetically that we face a cultural crisis: "Crime is a cultural and moral problem with cultural and moral solutions. It is traceable to human failures, the disintegration of institutions that make for decent character, that socialize and civilize. Being without loving, capable, responsible adults who teach the young right from wrong."

Predictably, Body Count was criticized from the left-not least for using such words as right and wrong. A reviewer in The New York Times Book Review slammed it, maintaining that morality is secondary to economics as the cause of crime.

Worse yet to modernist eyes were the solutions offered by Mr. DiIulio and his co-authors. Churches, they argued, are what work. Mr. DiIulio arrived at that conclusion in a wonkish way, by studying statistics. He found that about half of the kids who fit in the "at risk" categories turn out just fine, with the experience that made a difference being the "religious or faith-based variable."

In fact, the list of practical recommendations in Body Count sounds like a brochure for CityTeam: a safe place to hang out after school; supervised recreation programs; tutoring; real mentoring-not just counselors to pat kids on the back and affirm them, but real adult friends; and most importantly, the compassion of Jesus Christ.

"Am I my brother's keeper? The right answer to that is yes," says CityTeam's Mr. Williams.

The aftermath

On a cloudy late March day in Jonesboro, with rain predicted, cars were lined up eight and nine deep at the Perkins restaurant. A hastily organized car wash led off a dreary Saturday, with three funerals scheduled for later in the day. Several youth groups were splashing autos and each other for donations.

Christine, a 14-year-old wearing a denim baseball cap, her long, brown pony tail emerging at the back, had the sleeves of her crisp yellow T-shirt rolled up just so. After some pushing, she admitted that she had ironed her T-shirt. For a car wash? "So?" she responded, effectively putting the issue to rest.

"It feels good to do something to help," explained the high-school student. The money will go to the Westside Middle School Crisis Assistance Fund-but what, exactly, is the fund for? "I don't know," she said. "Medical stuff, I guess. It feels good to do something."

The need to "do something" is a feeling that extends beyond Jonesboro to the rest of the state and indeed, to the rest of the nation. One result of the tragedy seems to be a revival of the national debate on the nature of juvenile crime.

"How are we to square the image of a child and the image of a killer?" asks CityTeam's Mr. Williams. "That's what troubles us. In adults, we have no trouble seeing crime as a moral decision. In children, we want to see it as pathology-we want it desperately. Does an 11-year-old know he killed somebody? Yes. But does he understand the finality of death? I don't think so-not when he's seen thousands upon thousands of deaths on TV and in the movies, and in video games.

"The difficulty for us is to understand what's going on in the mind of an 11-year-old child-but that's what he is, a child. When it was over, all he wanted to do was crawl up in his mother's lap and cry. That's not a hardened criminal-that's a child trying to grasp what he has done."

There's been remarkably little call-even in Arkansas, which national media reports repeatedly note in ominous tones is "a Southern state"-for toughening the juvenile laws. Gov. Mike Huckabee has set up a commission to review the laws (one of his appointees is Mr. Nawojczyk), but he's said firmly that a knee-jerk reaction would be a mistake. The problem is the "culture of violence," he contends, and that sickness can't be remedied solely by locking up children.

In the end, he says, what went wrong in Jonesboro is that caring adults were not close enough to these children to see the warning signs, and in particular to show them the way of Christ. "That's what every kid needs-that's the vision," he says. "If people can't see it now, I guess they'll never see it."

April 11, 1998
Volume 13
Number 14





# "The profile of a potentially violent student 
#"The definition of school violence 
#"School violence prevention steps 
#"Warning signs for school violence 
#"Pre-event strategies 
#"Working with law enforcement before an event 
#"Working with emergency services during an event

What should you do if and when an event occurs? There have been numerous tragedies in America's schools.   Be prepared for school violence events in your community. Lessons learned in high profile cases including Littleton respond appropriately to a potential school violence event.  This knowledge could save lives in your agency and your community! We've all witnessed Padukah, Jonesboro, Springfield and Littleton. We hope there won't be a "next time", but you need
 to be prepared!

Columbine Comment:


It Will Happen Again, and Guns and the NRA Are Not the Blame
by Helen Klauck

When I first heard about the shootings that took place in an ordinary high school, I was dumbstruck and sat numb, listening for more details. When they came, and as time went on, the "experts" paraded across the TV screens, with the post-psychobabble of where-had-they-gone-awry?-angst and Monday-morning quarterbacking.

I'm sorry to sound cutting here, but didn't the hand-wringing come after Jonesboro, Ark.? And Springfield, Ore.? And Pearl, Miss.? And West Padukah, Kentucky? And San Ysidio, Ca.? In 1984. I was a young, feisty 18; I'm a young, feisty, mom of 32 now. The finger pointing, blame-shifting, laying this at someone's doorstep has begun. I'm not trying to take away from these parents' pain and anguish over the merciless deaths their children had to undergo or the emotional chasms the survivors have found themselves in. I'd like to let some of the air out of the sails of these arguments, and give you, Online Reader, another perspective from a Christian's point of view.

First, as much as this has outraged you and me, unfortunately, atrocities the world over happen every day. We just don't hear about all of them. Countless children die via abortions and abandonment all the time, too. Where's the outrage over this?

The NRA, planning for a gun convention over the April 23-25 weekend, cut its get-together to one day out of respect for the victims. And blaming the NRA for the guns in the first place has begun. It isn't at fault, though. Neither is the Internet, the Oliver Stone movie, "Natural Born Killers," Marilyn Mansion,or violence in the media. All these may have collectively influenced the already-poisoned minds of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. To solely blame the gun industry, Charlton Heston and the NRA, I believe, is intellectually lazy and looking for an easy scapegoat. All the gun laws in the world will not prevent a tragedy as we saw on April 20, because you can't legislate against madness. Nor can you try to understand insanity. You'll only become confused; hence why it may be called insanity.

I do believe, though, that if someone had held a gun to these two savages, perhaps the carnage may've been less.

If I'm called a fiend for defending the Fourth Amendment, so be it. More laws only are more intrusive for those who try to live moral, decent lives and for those who use guns for recreational purposes. I did when I was a teen. Does this make me a criminal? No.

I believe we're asking the wrong questions. Instead of asking, Why did this happen, maybe we should be wondering, Why is this happening now when it hadn't happened years ago?

When I went to high school, I wasn't part of a clique. If I knew then what I know now, I'd probably win a Nobel or a Pulitzer prize. Or had become a famous geneticist. But I was teased, and I kicked some major butt, too. Did it ever dawn on me to go completely freakazoid on my fellow students? No. Why? Because I had God in my life and parents who basically gave a damn about me.

I question the parental skills of the Harris and Klebold families. Why not? Someone has to. I'd notice if my kid dressed in Goth, had weird friends, and let his grades take a nosedive. Didn't they care? Where were the parents' concern? And where are their apologies for their irresponsibility and carelessness to the victims' families now?

In the age of political correctness, parenting has been degraded to dysfunctional buddying, with no limitations on the children whatsoever. Too impeding, the politically correct say. Yeah, well, if you let your kids do whatever they want, chaos reigns.

How many more victims of madness do we need to get the point? I'm fed up with the current pop psyche of tolerance, free love, don't you dare tell your child no, you'll only stymie their growth, and don't mention God, because he'll only control you.

People want answers for something as senseless as this was. I do, too. But, the only answer may be is that there is evil in the world, it happens, and no one can control that.

But, in the words of vintage Paul Harvey, "To leave out the law of the LORD, is to remove the law of the land." I say this because I'm ticked off over this and that all this can be avoided if we wanted it to. I say this because it needs to be said, politically correct or not. And, if what I wrote here tweaked your nerves, good. It's been a pleasure.

Helen Klauck is a media studies major in the Department of Film and Media Studies.Soapboxis an occasional column she will be writing.

From:  "John M Price, PhD" <jmprice@c...>
Date:  Fri Jul 2, 1999 3:04am
Subject:  Re: Fear the Geek
On Thu, 1 Jul 1999, Jim Giglio wrote:
> By contrast with T.C. Williams, the Columbine principal was unaware until after the 
> shooting that such a thing as the "trenchcoat" group even existed. And judging by his 
> responses to an interview on Dateline, he was also blissfully oblivious to the arrogant 
> behavior of a sizable fraction of the school's athletes toward the "geeks." This guy 
> should be fired.

IIRC, this is the exact same problem that preceeded the Padukah KY incident.  People, 
students and adults, had in fact complained about the prayer circel often.  Those complaints 
were ignored.

It would have been as simple as moving the thing from the one place where it was sure to 
intrude into every students entrance to the school.

John M. Price, PhD                                     jmprice@c...
Life: Chemistry, but with feeling!   |   Comoderator: sci.psychology.psychotherapy.moderated 
         Atheist# 683
The events in Jonesboro, Arkansas were said to be triggered by a young boy’s rejected love. 
Mitchell Johnson’s anger turned to vengeance after Candace Porter made her intentions 
clear to have nothing to do with him. It appears that his loneliness from a troubled home life 
was unfortunately fueled by interest in gangs. Last Fall in West Padukah, Kentucky, Michael 
Corneal opened fire on a prayer group. Few explanations have be found, other than Michael 
felt powerless and picked on, so he struck out in anger at the world. And in Pearl, Mississippi, 
Luke Woodham, who said he spent his whole life feeling like an outcast, finally found some 
people who wanted to be his friends. "I was trying to find hope in a hopeless world." 
Woodham is accused of slitting his mother's throat and then going to his high school and 
opening fire on students, killing two. The friends he found to stave off loneliness were said 
to be a part of a teen satanic group that called itself "Kroth," who were arrested by police and 
charged with conspiracy in the murders. Woodham claims he was influenced by "Kroth" 
founder Grant Boyette, 18. "I tried so hard to get his acceptance," Woodham said. But 
loneliness is not only for those who commit heinous crimes. The desolation they experience 
can often be a part of the lives of so many of us. Loneliness is said to be the great plague of 
our time. Detachment and isolation feed the sense of helplessness and desperation. 
Do Not Murder

When it comes to our society, this command definitely hits home. Just mention the names of Padukah, Kentucky, and Columbine High School and you realize that we , as a society have a problem.

FAST-FACT: DYING YOUNG Among elementary and middle school children, homicide is now the third leading cause of death. The equivalent of one classroom full of children is killed by guns every two days. Between 1979 and 1991 firearms took the lives of 50,000 children, about the same as the number of Americans who died in the Vietnam War. --Washington Post Weekly, Feb 28, 1994

In a Kenosha, Wisconsin, McDonald's, Dion Terres opened fire with a .44 caliber magnum, killing two middle aged customers and injuring a college student; he then turned the gun on himself. In a suburban Kansas City mall theater, a 15 year old pumped four bullets into his estranged mother's brain. In California, housewife Sopehia White sauntered into the Corona Regional Medical Center and shot two nurses with a .38 caliber pistol. In a Topeka, Kansas, courtroom, a convicted drug dealer gunned down five people before killing himself with explosives.

Several years ago our nation was appalled by the violence that was taking place in Yougoslavia In one year's time some 500 people died because of the unrest. But during that same period of time in the United States, there were 3 times that many murdered in Los Angeles County. 376 Americans died in the gulf War, but over 1500 people were killed in New York City during that same time span.

And it's not just an American Problem.

STREET KIDS MURDERED DAILY IN RIO An average of one street child a day is murdered in the slums of Rio de Janeiro.

As high as the murder rate is in the United States, it is 15 times higher in Colombia. The leading cause of death among adults there is homicide, with 80 people dying a violent death each day, according to 1991 statistics. Murder is so commonplace in Colombia that it rarely makes the evening news. "Colombia's culture of death" by David Miller. World, Jan 16, 1993

Comment From the Web (Page no longer available)

Hey--did you know? America has suffered from an incredible lapse in morals over the past few decades. I'm not kidding! Just look at all of the violence on television!

I've been hearing that America is falling in a moral downward spiral for several years now, and I'm willing to wager that this perceived problem has been decried for much longer. Never mind that all crime, and especially violent crime, is in a downward spiral of its own.

"Let's get God back in our lives." Maybe--just maybe--if we all went to church on Sunday, bad things wouldn't happen! Normally, I would pay these words the respect that they are owed; religious tolerance and all that. Looking at the recent school shootings, as I'm sure you'll soon agree, one begins to wonder if these concerned Americans aren't simply taking the opportunity to voice their own agenda.

There's one thing that sticks out about the communities where these shootings happen. Padukah--wasn't the target of that town's shooting a prayer group? Columbine, Jonesborough--correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't these suburbs in which Christianity thrives? Didn't Cassie Bernall die for her belief that there is a God? Face it: these are Christian communities. God is already in their lives. The shootings may have been committed by someone who doesn't care for Christianity, but short of a Spanish Inquisition, we have no way of insuring everyone in a community has "God in their lives."

Recall that I mentioned the overall decline in crime and violent crime; where do you suppose those declines matter the most? Poor neighbourhoods, very likely inner-city ghettos that WASPs1, as responsible Americans, try so desparately to ignore in their Suburban havens. Reality soon set in for Suburbanites: they aren't Tolkien Elves, and they haven't sailed off into the Western Havens where only good things exist. Shootouts at schools, those "very bad things" that once existed only in the inner-city, have moved to those very same refuges that the bourgeoise have lived in for generations. "It couldn't happen here," people say. Well, it could and it did.

I can't help but be reminded of American indifference to slaughter in Rwanda. When it comes to the whites in Kosovo, though, oh yes--we're on the ball. Our shooting tragedies pale in comparison, and yet they are a microcosm of one dominant aspect of American thought; and the more I hear, the more I realize that God has nothing to do with it.

(Page no long available)

School violence response expands

Disaster News Network

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (Dec. 16, 1999) -- David Gill wants to demonstrate that triumphs do come out of tragedies. And to prove it, the Presbyterian pastor and director of a retreat center is organizing a national camp for survivors of now all-too-common school shootings.

With the arrest Friday of an 18-year-old Florida teenager for allegedly threatening Columbine students and with a recent school shooting in Fort Gibson, Okla. that injured several children, Gill believes there needs to be a place where young people who endure such tragedy can share their experiences.

"We do feel there's a need for these kids to connect with one another," Gill said.

In fact, groups of students have made smaller-scale initiatives on their own. For example, students from Littleton, Co., visited those in Conyers, Ga., where a shooting came close on the heels of the one at their school, he said.

Gill wants to create the same kind of contact and dialogue but include students from schools where the largest shootings have occurred -- Padukah, Ky.; Pearl, Miss.; Springfield, Or.; and Jonesboro, Ark.; as well as Conyers, Littleton, and now Fort Gibson.

He has conducted three similar camps at the Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center in Little Rock, Ark., for survivors of a 1998 shooting at a school in Jonesboro in which nearly a dozen students were wounded and five people lost their lives.

One of the big questions for students and their parents at those camps was, "Where do we go from here?" Gill said.

"We began -- at the encouragement of the parents and the kids -- moving into leadership skills. They said basically, 'Let's begin to move from being victims to being leaders and healers of others. You know, we don't want to come to camp every year and just remember what happened on the tragedy day.' Their idea was let's reach out to others and learn how to help others through the unique experience we've had, instead of just burying it. Let's take a tragedy and turn it into a triumph, which was the theme of our first camp."

In that vein, participants helped Arkansas tornado survivors at their second camp and, this summer, packed health kits for Church World Service.

It helped the survivors to realize that "some people deal with tragedy every day and let's look at the bigger picture. It helps you gain perspective on your own tragedy when you realize that you're not alone," Gill said.

Indeed, that would be one of the main purposes of a national camp: to help survivors realize that they are not alone.

Many of the Jonesboro survivors were in middle school and have several more years of school remaining. Those students can be there for others, like the students in Fort Gibson, Gill said.

That kind of bonding and potential for healing is what Gill would hope to accomplish with a national camp, but he says he doesn't have any preconceived notions about the format and would like the students to determine it for themselves.

There will be a curriculum for the weeklong camp, but it will be flexible, he said.

"Maybe from this camp, which now looks like it will happen -- I'm making more and more contacts into these communities -- a peer-to-peer network will emerge.

"It wouldn't surprise me at all for them to say at the end of the week, 'Let's form some kind of a way of staying in touch with each other and figure out what it is we could do both for healing...and maybe for prevention. Maybe there's things we can do...maybe there's something we can write together. Maybe there's something we can put on together that would be helpful to schools that are looking to prevent this kind of thing.' "

Putting together such a retreat is not as simple as deciding to have one, however.

There is the challenge of bringing together groups with different experiences, Gill said. Some of the schools are urban. Others are rural. Some students are middle schoolers. Others are in high school. Some schools are big, others small.

And Gill has met with some resistance to his idea from the various communities affected by school shootings. In some of the places, many people -- clergy, school officials, and parents -- are just tired of talking about it and tell him they just want to move on.

"Our response is: We understand how you can feel that way. But we also feel that we want to talk about it in a way that does move us on. And that's what we're trying to orchestrate here. Maybe they just don't understand quite what we have in mind."

Gill first learned the value of retreats to disaster survivors as a staffer for Heifer Project International, when he helped organize a retreat after the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City.

"People want to connect with other people who've been through similar experiences," he said.

"We see the need for 'connectionalism' in this," Gill said. So far, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have committed financial support to the national retreat, and more support may be forthcoming since many additional denominations have helped fund smaller-scale camps in the past.

National denominations and communities alike are looking for resources to help young people "struggling to say, 'What if this happens to us?' or, 'What is the Christian response to preparing our young people for this?' or just dealing with the fact that we're now living in a world where disaster doesn't necessarily mean Mother Nature," he said.

Return to:
Public Violence Disaster Response



The Matrix, a violent sci-fi adventure film, has drawn comment by social critics who see it as uncannily representative of the type of amoral entertainment that drives kids to acts of violence like the Columbine High School shootings.

And there is a scene in the Matrix that anyone familiar with the Littleton, Colorado shootings would find disturbing: at one point, the heroes strap weapons and ammunition onto their bodies, dress in black trench coats, and then enter a building where they shoot the hell out of a bunch of bad guys. You hear the shell casings rattle to the floor, the rat-tat-tat of automatic and semi-automatic weapons fire—even a few shotguns, in the hands of the bad guys (who, in this film, are the police). In The Matrix, the shooters are heroes. They were dark glasses so they look cool as they kill. They are fighting evil. You conquer evil by outgunning them, or stylishly beating their faces to a pulp with karate blows.

There is nothing new here: Hollywood has glorified this type of adolescent fantasy for years. Hollywood is getting better at it though: the amount of computing and artistic effort put into these scenes is astounding. The sound effects batter the listener with Dolbyized wall-rattling chunky, acerbic smacks. The walls explode with spattering bullets and ricochets.

A fair number of commentators have tried to draw a link between movies like this and incidents like Padukah and Littleton. They believe that children are influenced by these movies. They watch the carnage and enjoy it. It thrills them. They want to be like the actors in the movie: cool and powerful. They derive a invigorating sense of gratification from seeing the bad guys get blown away.

There is always a conversation with the meanest, baddest, most ruthless of the bad guys, before he is dispatched. It doesn’t matter that such conversations have never taken place anywhere in history: they are a staple of the action-adventure film. Usually, the hero revels for a moment in his triumph, and we glimpse suffering, finally, on the face of the man who inflicted so much suffering on others. We feel the necessity of grudging submission, acknowledgement that we (identified with the hero) are the good guys. Just before we blow their brains out.

But there is another weird convention to these action adventure films: the hero has to suffer too. In almost all of them, the hero himself undergoes a few serious, painful trials, before undertaking his climatic mission. Why? I’ve heard this element rationalized as some kind of test of worthiness that ties into our primitive instincts for sacrificial leaders. Thus when the killer acts just as brutal and ruthless as the enemy, in the end, he appears to be justified, because he has suffered. . I always find these sequences a little squirmy, because they are so close to pure adolescent fantasy, and adolescent fantasy is utterly self-centred and masochistic. Adolescents don’t feel comfortable with their place in the world; they’re always being accused of not suffering enough, or of making bad decisions. So being dominated and victimized plays nicely into their sense of being very worthy individuals who are unjustly persecuted. All the better if a lovely woman, preferably about 18, feels so moved by your suffering that she pleads with you to save your self. Adolescence. Fantasy. Myth.

Did Dylan Klybold and Eric Harris shoot their class-mates because, though they were otherwise of sound mind and body, they saw films like "The Matrix" (specifically, "Natural Born Killers"), and decided that killing people was so cool they just had to try it themselves? That’s hard to believe. These films do very well at the box office. You would think there would a veritable rash of killings after every showing. The truth is, we don’t have any evidence at all that these films influence anybody to kill. How unlikely is it, after all, that killers would not have seen the most popular films, played the most popular video games, or listened to well-known metal rockers?

As tempting as it is to ascribe a single cause to the Littleton disaster, the truth is probably more complex than that. Klebold and Harris were disaffected youths, marginalized by the nasty jock culture of Columbine High School. They were intelligent and imaginative, too intelligent to not harbor some bitterness about the putdowns they received constantly from the jocks and preppies . They were probably somewhat psychotic. Perhaps Harris, by himself, would merely have committed suicide. The two of them together formed a deadly combination of audaciousness, bitterness, and collective energy. Their uncensored fantasies of revenge and domination came to life in their conversations and acquired an energy of their own.

So how would you prevent future massacres from happening? Again, people are tempted by simple solutions: censor movies or the internet, ban violent games, restrict access to guns. The most idiotic come first: ban trench coats, which is what all high schools in the Denver area and many more nation-wide have done. Ban trench coats? What about gym bags, back packs, suitcases? What about pockets and purses and bulky ski jackets? I’m afraid I don’t have much faith in knee-jerk solutions.

No surprisingly, conservative Republicans, who constantly insist that only a free-market--without the slightest government intervention--can gratify the needs of the human soul, suddenly reverse themselves when it comes to culture and demand stricter censorship and tougher punishments for thought crimes. I don’t understand why the magic of the marketplace is so wonderful when it comes to wages and product liability, but so odious when it comes to movies and rock music. This position is frankly hypocritical. If conservatives really believe in the principles they describe so passionately as they apply to the economy is absurd to think that those same principles shouldn’t also apply to culture. If they don’t like movies like "The Matrix", tough—the magical marketplace has decided that this is the way to go. Learn to live with it.

Liberals are at least more consistent on the general principles. They advocate a clear role for government in the economy, ensuring minimum wages and protection of the environment, for example, and they urge a role upon the government in preventing and reducing teen violence. The government should make it far, far more difficult for people to obtain guns, especially by changing the exemptions that allow people to buy powerful weapons at gun shows without even a background check or waiting period. And schools should develop programs that attack the roots of alienation and disaffection, and encourage values of tolerance and diversity, so that students like Klebold and Harris are never again as marginalized as they were at Columbine.

Copyright © 1999 Bill Van Dyk  All rights reserved.

* Three million crimes per year are committed in and around schools, com- pared to one million in American workplaces (Sautter, 1995). 

* In a 1995 survey, 10 percent of high school students reported carrying a weapon on school property in the past month, and 8 percent of high school students had been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property (Sickmund et al., 1997). 

* More than half of the nation's schools experienced some crime during the 1996-97 school year, and one in 10 reported a serious violent crime such as rape, robbery, or fights involving a weapon. In 1996, there were 10,000 reported physical attacks or fights with weapons in schools, 7,000 reported robberies, and 4,000 reported rapes and sexual assaults (Heaviside et al., 1998). 

* From 1989 to 1995, the percentage of students victimized by violent crime increased from 3.4 percent to 4.2 percent (Chandler et al., 1998). 

* Violence (not confined to school violence alone) is the second leading cause of death for America's students (Prothrow-Stith, 1994). Concern about school violence is widespread, although perceptions of the problem vary among different populations. 

In a 1996 study, 72 percent of the general public considered the presence of drugs and violence in schools to be the most serious problem affecting education. Among teachers, however, only 47 percent viewed drugs and violence as their top concern. Teachers cited school funding, class size, and low academic standards as more significant issues than school violence (Farkas, Johnson, Friedman, & Bers, 1996; Rossman & Morley, 1996). 

Perceptions of violence are significant because feeling unsafe is not conducive to learn- ing or to teaching. Out of fear, some students avoid specific places at school, such as restrooms or certain hallways. (Bastion & Taylor, 1991). A small percentage of high school students (4.4 percent) have missed at least a day of class because they felt unsafe (Centers for Disease Control, 1995). Worrying about becoming a victim causes some students to carry a weapon or to become victimizers themselves (Kimweli & Anderman, 1997). 

In schools with a high incidence of violence, teachers may hesitate to confront misbehaving students out of concern for their own safety (Kenney & Watson, 1996). Students who know their teachers fear them are less likely to show respect and more likely to be insolent and insubordinate, making good teaching almost impossible (Noguera, 1996). 

Clearly, there is much work to be done.

From: Preventing School Violence

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Subject:     Columbine and........
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A friend of mine wrote the following article this past year and I thought that it was quite insightful. The author of the article below is Steve Wilkins, pastor of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church in Monroe, Louisiana.

Columbine and the Culture of Unbelief

"I couldn't believe it was happening in our school . . . You ought to be safe in school."-Student at Columbine High School, Littleton, Colorado, April 20, 1999.

In the wake of the terrible crime committed by two angry young men at Columbine High in Littleton, Colorado, the country again is collectively shaking its head in unbelief, sorrow, and mystification over the horrifying details. In response to the incident, we have been deluged with words of counsel, advice, and rebuke.

Columnists and commentators solemnly lament what can happen when young people are allowed to view violence, be ridiculed and ostracized, learn German, play video games, and have guns at their disposal. Studies are published containing the supposed "warning signs" of disruptive behavior that signal murderous tendencies. Parents are exhorted to "be aware" of what their children are thinking and what they are "getting into." Even our President was compelled to implore our children to "use words and not guns" to express themselves. Finally an "expert" with a Ph.D. informs us that "it is time to declare war-on guns" since guns are obviously a greater threat to health than cancer or AIDS.

It is the usual fare that we have all become used to by now-after Springfield, after Jonesboro, after Edinboro, after Padukah, Pearl, Bethel, Moses Lake, etc., etc. Violence and mayhem in public schools has become a sad fact of life. Over the last seven years, there have been no less than 15 shooting incidents in public schools across the country. The figures for all these incidents combined come to 39 students and teachers killed and 83 wounded.

The headlines we see reveal that no one seems to have a clue as to why this might be happening. A moment's reflection, however, might raise another question, namely, "Why should we be surprised that this is happening?" When one considers what is being taught in the government schools across our land, one begins to wonder why we are shocked that violence regularly erupts there.

-Our children are taught that human beings are nothing more than blobs of protoplasm, the result of a grand cosmic accident. So why are we shocked when they laugh at cruelty and suffering?

-Our children are taught that there is no right or wrong (no absolutes). So why are we appalled that they care nothing for truth or morality?

-Our children are told to express their rage and not hold it in. Why are we surprised when they get a gun and do what we have told them to do?

-Our children are taught to respect the lives of animals but that it is all right to kill a baby in the womb. Why do we then shake our heads in astonishment when they dispose of their newborns in dumpsters?

One can only assume that we think our children will not take our instruction seriously; that those who listen to this claptrap day by day will be as indifferent to it as we are who allow it to be taught. Now we find ourselves facing the stark reality that there are some kids to actually believe this stuff!
One is reminded of C. S. Lewis' observation: such is the tragi-comedy of our situation-we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more 'drive,' or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or 'creativity.' In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful. (The Abolition of Man, p. 35)

Precisely so. And declaring a "war on guns" because of this tragedy is no more a solution to our dilemma than declaring a "war on marshmallows" because some fool stuffed thirty of them in his mouth and choked to death. But, this is too clear for the blind men of our age to perceive. So we will mourn, weep, and give loud lamentation for the "tragedy at Columbine," perhaps pass another law or two seeking with pharisaic-like trust to stop evil by statute, and never point an accusing finger at the deadly philosophy that provokes these deadly outbursts. Which means that we must brace ourselves for the next "Columbine," for it will come-as surely as the sunrise. And the most unsafe place for any child will continue to be school-any school that mocks Biblical truth and despises God's law.

Such is the destiny of a people who are determined to try to prove God wrong. So it always is for those who believe that man can live by bread alone and insist that the fear of the Lord is not the beginning of wisdom. Education that rejects the living God and His Word is not education but deception. It leads not to life but to death. And if we refuse to accept this reality, we must be prepared to lose more children to "crazy" kids with guns and pipe bombs who look upon murder as simply something to do when you get bored.

But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death. (Proverbs 8:36)
Making sense of Jonesboro 


BY LORI LEIBOVICH | When two teenagers opened fire last Tuesday at a Jonesboro, Ark., middle school, the hunt for answers began almost immediately. What motivated Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Andrew Golden, 11, to don camouflage, pull a fire alarm, then lay in wait until their classmates tumbled out of school before gunning them down? Four girls and one teacher were killed in the cross-fire and several students were injured. 

Though reports suggest that violence at schools is not on the rise, recent high-profile killings at schools in Pearl, Miss., and West Padukah, Ky., have highlighted the scourge of kids and guns and suggest that adolescents -- and not just in the inner city -- are seeking revenge, maybe even thrills, with firearms. 

Blame has already been leveled at our violent, gun-riddled society, a place where, increasingly, children settle playground scores with guns, not fists. But what about the boys themselves? What is going on in the brain of a child who decides to shoot his classmates in cold blood? What are the psychological stirrings inside a young killer? 

Salon spoke with Alvin Poussaint, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the author of several books, including "Different and Wonderful: Raising Black Children in a Race Conscious Society" and "Faith of our Fathers: African American Men Reflect on Fatherhood." 

People are blaming our violent society for this crime. But couldn't this tragedy simply be about one kid's brain chemistry? 

All of it would be speculation without knowing the history of these kids and what kind of life they had. We've gotten little snitches of this in the news. There are some general things that I could say. There was a leader and a follower. We know that the older boy had a lot of anger and a lot of it focused on girls. We know he had actually verbalized to other children that he wanted to kill people. 

What causes a kid to blow his classmates away? 

You would think they'd been socialized to know you don't kill people, that they go to church and they learn "Thou shalt not kill." So you have to wonder what else is being taught or what isn't being taught in their homes. And what else influences them, in terms of valuing life.  

What is at issue here is whether a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old understand what killing means, whether it really registers that the people are going to be dead. 

But ultimately, isn't this crime the fault of the boys, not that of society? 

They committed the act. They're to blame for it. And they are responsible for it. We expect children to be responsible. We don't expect children to kill. And if they kill they should be punished. I think it would be very wrong to spin any theory that excuses these boys' behavior. You can blame the families too. But the children have to take responsibility.

There was almost a game-like quality to the killing, with the kids dressing up in fatigues, then hiding in the bushes like snipers. 

That's the part that is most scary to me. In America, violence is considered fun to kids -- they play video games where they chop people's heads off and blood gushes and it's fun, it's entertainment. It's like a game. And I think that is in some of the psychology of these kids -- this "let's go out there and kill like on television." It's fun for them, and they don't quite understand they are killing people and those people won't come back next week for the next episode. 

How do we make kids understand what killing really means? 

Parents have to counter what comes through the media by saying violence is not fun, it's not funny; that violence is an unacceptable way to negotiate conflict. You have to tell them not to play with guns. Parents who have guns, those who hunt, really have to secure those guns. The fact that the Arkansas kids knew where the guns were means they were easy to get. Those guns were not secure in my opinion. In the South and in the cities guns are too easy to get. Kids fantasize, they
wonder, "What is it like to shoot?" 

People have the idea that children are more violent today than ever before. Is it that they are more violent or do they simply have access to more violent tools? 

Society has changed -- with the divorce rate going up and dual career couples and kids spending time in front of the TV -- kids don't get the same kind of childhood coaching and guidance that they used to. Everybody's rushing, everyone is busy. When you take surveys, children complain that their parents don't spend enough time with them and parents complain that they don't have enough time to spend with kids. Things are fractured. Plus, they are being bombarded with so much
information via the media and are exposed to things they're not ready to handle. 

For example? 

Violence, sexuality, adult subjects like AIDS. You talk to 8-year-olds and they are familiar with adult material! There are parents who take their 6-year-olds to see R-rated movies with violence and graphic sex in them. What kind of effect is this going to have on kids? 

What about the fact that these boys specifically targeted girls. Can we assume then that this is a misogynist crime? 

It is not unusual for boys in this age group to have antagonistic relationships with girls. The older boy felt rejected by a girl. So his anger was personal but then generalized all girls. He saw girls, more than boys, as the villain. We got snatches in the media that he was upset about the breakup of his family, that he missed his dad.  If he blamed his mother, who knows what he was acting out? But you would need someone to do a history of him, to analyze him. 

How should children who kill be rehabilitated? 

I don't know and nobody knows. But on juvenile statutes, they will be let out at age 18 and they may have some very loose screws up there that made them commit such an act. Rehabilitation is not a pure science. The fact that these kids are young, well, they certainly can mature and recognize that they were wrong, but you always have to wonder that someone who did something like that might do it again. 

How would you have counseled kids like these -- ones that express anger, rage and the desire to kill? 

I would get in touch with the parents. I would find out whether the kid had access to weapons. I would tell the parents that the weapons needed to be secured. And I would say that the boy needed to see a counselor. That's what I would have done. 

SALON | March 30, 1998 

The Sermon

Two white, adolescent, financially comfortable, suburban high school boys go to school one day with guns and bombs. They point them at classmates. They pull their triggers. The guns go bang. Again and again, casually, laughingly. Then, bringing the barrels to their heads, they blow their brains out onto the clean tile floor.

And all the anchors furrow their brows, consulting experts, discussing warning signs, school security, "are your children safe?" Asking, again and again, why?

Isn't it obvious? How many times do we have to be beaten over the heads with such nightmares, to finally see their cause? There is a problem with the mainstream of our culture. Violence, ostracism, suicide, drug abuse, are products of it, not spontaneously generated aberrations. The majority of the news media, preoccupied with looking mystified over the question, fail to find any real answer.

The psychologists and the sociologists scramble to find blame-bites easily digestable to the average American news-consumer. The 40-year-old homemaker and the balding father estranged from their pierced teenage girl find it easy to blame that music with the curse words in the lyrics for her incomprehensible behavior. Violent sports, the Internet, videogames, television are all held up as causes of our expulsion from the American cultural Eden of every parents' youth. Again and again we are told that teenagers are impressionable and should be protected from such influences. There is great comfort to parents in this attitude. They can deal with an impressionable creature, because that is a child. There is nothing frightening about it, no original thought, no maturity and independence, no rebellion, no questioning of lessons or rejection of values. "Because I said so" is enough. The scary rap music, the outlandish baggy clothes, the inscrutable Internet, the violent videogames, the sex on TV are all easy scapegoats for any behavior outside of the Brady Bunch normative, if we believe in this impressionability.

But what if receptiveness to entertainment isn't the problem? We've all grown up with unprecedented amounts of stimulus beamed into our heads from every side - surely we've become able to differentiate and filter - how else could we survive, believing every commercial, acting on every Hollywood murder?

So what caused Littleton and Jonesboro? The automatic TV response is "we may never know." What they really mean is "we don't want to know." The cause is in our sick culture; not Marilyn Manson and alternative Internet chatrooms, but the mainstream culture of malls, proms, Jeep Grand Cherokees, social elitism, apathy, popularity, thinness, sitcoms, flair pants, acquisition, suburban housing developments, stifled creativity, and suffocating consumerism. These are the distractions from the true paths to meaning and happiness. And if you reject these distractions, you are ostracized. It is a white, financially comfortable, apathetic suburban culture absolutely devoid of substance. Kids don't know their own parents, working jobs nine to five that they're too numb from Prozac and alchohol to know are killing them. They don't know their own friends, a group of people so concerned with looking good in each others' eyes that they never let their guard down enough to actually understand each other.

The impossible pain of estrangement, the boredom and frustration, the absolute void at the center of mainstream adolescent American life can be covered up in two ways. The first is with tight clothes and cars, cliques and makeup, five percent body fat and fashionable drug use. These are the popular ones, the ones so dead to their own realities that they can smile with orthodontically correct teeth in the face of such a nothingness.

The second is with a contrarian approach, a fetish with the macabre, an antisocial attitude. I am not talking about true nonconformism or individuality. I am talking about the people whose attitude is based entirely on a bitterness to the mainstream, arising from envy, fueled by frustration. They are slaves to the culture they reject, taking every popular action and reversing it. These are the people that kill for boredom. This is the defeat of the soul, the extinguishing of the last spark of human potentials. It is the genocide mentality, the video game mentality. It's a game. And what I am saying is that we are the cause.

This is a culture in which we are reduced to the disgusting, impossible position of consumer, hungry voids with tentacles of money, drawing products to us in selfish, vicious greed. We're told we'll find happiness this way. Some people totally buy into the mindset, and spend their lives in pursuit of material. The majority don't quite believe it, but figure there's nothing to be done, and play along for now.

What are they waiting for? What are we waiting for? Someone else to do it? The rapture? The next program to come on or the channel to change? Awakening? Death? Godot?

We deny meaning to those most hungry for it; the young. We offer expensive placebos from birth; the sugar pills of electronic babysitters, Nintendos, inane escapist hero cartoons. Our children graduate to the happiness substitutes of popularity, cars, clothes, fashionable promiscuity - denial of the void. Alternately, if they are rejected by this structure, they become enamored of the lack of meaning, and celebrate it. Some go as far as suicide. Some go as far as murder. And what we fail to see is the cold, mechanical, logical progression, the direct connection between the alien laughter at Columbine High School and the most familiar mainstream.

What is to be done? Reject the corporate ideology. Reject every-man-for-himselfism. Reject competition with others, the scramble to get ahead, the inhuman structures of the market economy. Get to know your kids, and I don't mean some psycho-babble one-time bonding session. Make friends, not allies. Look for truth, beauty, love and happiness at their divine human sources, not in the passing saccharine taste of the malls. Stop waiting for someone to tell you to do it.

This is the clearest, most potent manifestation of everything that is withering and plastic in our society. It is the logical extension of a thousand cultural mentalities that we cherish, uphold and perpetuate in everyday practice. Here is the evidence of our brokenness. The wrong reaction, the nightmare response, the insult to the dead, the final numbed ignorance, would be to deny the problem or shift the blame. Armed guards and metal detectors, censorship of music and literature are laughable faced with these problems. Fighting fascism with fascism will not work.

"Why did this happen" is chanted on the prime time news. "How could it happen here?" echoes from the identical walls in suburbia. I sit here wondering, how could it not?

From: Sermon United Church on the Green, April 25, 1999

Fearing Education

Fear. In today's American public school systems, students are now forced into fearing for 
their lives every time they enter the institution of learning. It is ridiculous. School is suppose 
to be the safest place possible for a child, but not anymore. As an outbreak of school 
shootings has taken place within the past two years, students all over the country must 
evaluate their safety in schools. This evaluation has challenged them with a dilemma of an 
ever growing terror that has captured the nation.

As the student body and the faculty of Columbine High School in Littleton,Colorado are 
coping with the loss of their twelve peers and teacher, schools all over the nation are taking extra precautions to ensure that such a shooting will not take place at their school. Being a high school student, I have a first-hand account of what it feels like to go to school everyday fearing the worst, for my high school, North Hagerstown High School is also burdened by the threats and fear.

Recently threats about bombs and shootings have been passed along throughout the public schools of Washington County, Maryland. However it is not just this county, but the country. 
It is unfortunate that some students are copycatting the situation in Littleton to play games 
with the emotions of the country, but that incident seemed to spark a wave of fear. Students 
in school are now paranoid that some insane person is going to jump out of the hallway bathroom carrying a semi-automatic weapon ready to shoot anything that walks.

Since Columbine's tragedy, my friends and I have been discussing this issue frequently. We 
all agree that this situation is somewhat ludicrous, but we also agree that it is real. As 
absurd as it may sound, my friends and I have been spending our lunch periods planning 
escape routes just in case. I have heard students say that they would jump out the nearest window if necessary even if it is the second story window. I have also heard some of my 
peers say that if this situation presented itself upon them, then they would "play dead". 
They actually suggested bringing in packets of ketchup and squirting it all over themselves 
to fool the gunmen into believing that they were already shot, and if they did not have 
ketchup then they would rub an already shot student's blood on themselves. I, on the other 
hand thought both plans were ridiculous, not to mention morbid. These comments surprised 
me because it dawned on me how if this situation ever happened, the students would take drastic measures to get out of the building, not to mention how situation brought up the "imaginative" side of the students.

The faculty and the administration of North have done what they can to ensure the student's safety, but despite their efforts, the students still have doubts. In some ways students can even see some of the fears of the teachers. As far as I know, there have been a lot more closed and locked doors during class time than there were before.

This issue is obviously a sensitive matter. Within the past two years many school shootings have taken place, yet it takes Columbine to finally instill fear into the public school systems of America. What caused this sudden out pour of concern? It seems that when there were shootings in Padukah, Kentucky, Pearl, Mississippi, and so on, the school systems did not 
react as meticulously as they are currently. Maybe it is because of the number of lives lost. Maybe it is the idea that two young men would be as so audacious as to plan to murder hundreds of innocent people. Maybe it is the media hype around all the angst and confusion 
of the tragedy in Littleton. Maybe it is the issue of violence in the media. Maybe it is the controversial issue of teens and guns. Whatever it may be though, all of those aspects played 
a role into the slight reformation of American public schools.

The public has criticized the NRA (National Rifle Association), violence in the media, and 
even the parents of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, but everyone must realize that it was not just one factor that contributed to Columbine's crisis or the other shootings within the last 
two years. The reasons for such actions taken by those students were based on everything 
from the media to how the students in school treated them to how their current mental state was at the time. Blaming their actions solely on one factor is not reasonable.

An issue that has not been frequently addressed as a cause for the two young men's actions is the fact that the student body of Columbine rejected them. High school is never a good place 
to show true individuality for it has two results: popularity or rejection. Most of the time the results are rejection, such as in their case. Does this justify the heinous actions of the two young men? No. But it influenced them in such a way that it caused harm to the entire nation. 
I can say that since this tragedy, my peers have been expressing their concerns on how not to get shot by being amicable to everyone. They realize that poking fun at another hurts that person and in turn could hurt them back.

When the school day is finally over and everyone is safe, a breath of relief can be heard throughout the nation. It is a tragedy when students are more concerned with jumping out the nearest window instead of who they are going to take to prom. Since Columbine's tragedy however, it is all we think about, and it will be a fear that present and future students will deal with for the rest of their careers in education.

Written by Loan V.


Twenty Percent of All Children Need Mental Health Services

The National Institute of Mental Health has sponsored research to document the incidence and prevalence of most childhood and adolescent psychiatric disorders with greater precision and reliability (Doll, 1996). Results of these studies show that a typical school of 1000 students could be expected to have between 180 to 220 students with diagnosable psychiatric disorders. (The reader is referred to Doll, 1996 for a complete review of the research findings). The most frequent disorders are anxiety disorders, conduct disorders, oppositional defiant disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. In secondary schools the most notable problems are depression and 
suicidal behaviors.

As noted by Doll, "The numbers alone are overwhelming." (1996, p. 29) She states that a school psychologist working under the recommended NASP ratio of one school psychologist for every 1,000 students (NASP, 1992) 
would have to see a different student every day of the school year in order to meet every student with a 
diagnosable mental health condition. However, nationally, we know that the current ratio of school psychologists to students is 1:2500 (Carlson, Paavola and Talley, 1995). Therefore, it would take two and a half years for that same school psychologist to meet with all students with diagnosable conditions.

However, Huebner (1993) has shown in recent surveys that less than one fifth of a typical school psychologist's 
week is spent in direct intervention activities. Conversely, over two-thirds of their time is spent in classifying and placing students with mild handicapping conditions into special education programs (Reschly, 1988). To extrapolate again from these findings, if time is still spent in the same manner and if the school psychologist to student ratios continue, this would mean that it would take 12.5 years to meet just once with all these students.

We know from our most recent epidemiological research that one in every five students in America's public schools have significant mental health needs (e.g., Costello, 1989; Valez, Johnson & Cohen, 1989). Therefore a school psychologist with a case load of 2500 students has on average 500 students with a diagnosable psychiatric condition and a great number of these youths need some type of mental health intervention. In what may be considered a 
gross understatement, Doll concludes, "It is unlikely, then, that school psychologists are presently addressing a significant proportion of the needs identified in these epidemiological studies (1996, p. 29).

The great majority of students with mental health needs do not receive treatment (Pfeiffer & Reddy, 1998). We 
find that less than 1% are identified as behaviorally or emotionally disturbed and placed in special education 
classes (Werthamer-Larsson, 1994). Also, more than half of all public schools do not offer mental health services 
for students, instead these schools rely on community health providers (e.g., Kazdin, 1988; Knitzer, 1993) and of those, only 3% of students receive mental health services from practitioners in the community. This creates an alarming gap of 17% between those students receiving and those students needing mental health services (Pfeiffer 
& Reddy, 1998).

 The Cost of Not Treating the Emotional Needs of Our Nations Children is Staggering

For example, estimates of dropout rates for students with behavioral or emotional disorders are as high as 55% compared to the national average of 12% (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1993; Pfeiffer & Reddy, 
1998) It should be well known that students with untreated, under-treated, or ineffectively treated emotional or behavioral disorders experience a wide range of poor outcomes. These include: lower grades, higher absenteeism and retention, lowered rates of employment and little success finding meaningful work after leaving school. There 
is also a higher likelihood of involvement with welfare, criminal justice, adult mental health and public health 
systems (e.g., Allen & Pfeiffer, 1991; Knitzer, 1993; Pfeiffer & Reddy, 1998; Saxe, Cross & Silverman, 1988).


Gun related violence takes the lives of at least 25 children every three days - the equivalent of a classroom of children disappearing every third day (Children's Defense Fund, 1993). In 1990 alone, guns were used to kill 222 children under the age of 10 and 6,795 young people under the age of 25. Another 30 children are injured every day by guns (Children's Defense Fund, 1993). There are approximately 5,000 gun deaths of children under the age of 18 each year in America. There is a gun in every third home and almost every adolescent can obtain a gun in a few hours.

A gun is more likely to kill a loved one through accidents, homicides, or suicides than to be used to defend a home from an intruder. Approximately 60% of all youth suicides involve a gun. In Miami-Dade County alone, 145 
students died by their own hands between 1980 and 1994. (Zenere & Lazarus, 1997).

In 1985 there were approximately 19,000 homicides in the United States and between 10% and 20% were 
witnessed by at least one child (Pynoos, 1990). Violence in some communities and schools is so common that 
many inner city children have actually observed a murder or report knowing someone who had been murdered (Keane, 1996).

It has been estimated that as many as 100,000 weapons are carried to school by children each day (Department of Justice, 1997). A recent Gallup poll found that in the past year one teen in five had a friend who was attacked by someone who was wielding a knife or gun, 7% had been assaulted, 14% had their property vandalized and 24% 
lived in a state of fear at school. The Justice Department found that two percent of students reported experiencing one or more violent crimes and seven percent reported at least one property crime during the first half of 1989. 
The most common types of violence were simple assault: pushing, shoving, grabbing and slapping. In 1992 nine percent of 8th graders, ten percent of 10th graders and six percent of 12th graders reported that they had brought 
a weapon to school at least once during the previous month (National Education Goals Report)

Teachers told Louis Harris that 64 percent of in-school violence takes place in the hallways or stairways, 16 
percent in lunchrooms, 12 percent in the classrooms and 15 percent in the bathrooms. Students believe more 
violence takes place in the classroom and athletic areas then teachers report. The Justice Department (1997) 
reports that six percent of students avoid some place in or around their school because of the potential that 
someone might attack them. School restrooms were listed most often as a place to avoid and hallways were second. More than two-thirds of students don't feel completely safe going to and from school. Eight percent of urban junior and senior high school students missed at least one day of classes a month because they were afraid to go to school. Three percent reported that they were afraid most of the time (School Crime and Violence).

The U.S. Department of Justice reports that 160,000 children miss school daily because of fear of violence. Some 14,000 young people are attacked on school property every day and that each day 6,250 teachers are threatened 
and 260 teachers are assaulted.

The Unmet Needs of Children

Dateline: June 4 1999
red text was ommitted from the article as it appeared in the Daily texan



   I conducted a quick survey among graduate students working in Robert Lee Moore Hall 
   regarding violent videogames, especially Doom and its remarkably superior sequel, 
   Doom II. The purpose of this survey was to determine if, as hyper-reactionaries claim,
   violent videogames with graphic action have a detrimental effect on intellectual and 
   emotional development. In the wake of the Columbine incident, some are calling for 
   tighter controls on these games.
   The working hypothesis of conservative pundits is that if we take away imaginary guns 
   from kids, then we won't actually have to take away their real guns. Liberal pundits, 
   going one step further, want to take both real and imaginary guns away from not only 
   kids but everybody else as well.

     The survey question was: When watching a mutant creature being ripped apart by rapid bursts of bullets 
     from your high-rate-of-fire chain gun, what is going through your mind? A) Is there another horrible mutant 
     creature just around the corner? B) Is the mutant monster just a diversion while an even more exotic and evil
     creature is attacking me from behind? C) Should I reload? D) How has it come to pass that only violence 
     seems to work with these obviously intelligent, sentient aliens? What other avenues of discourse are 
     available that can bring about mutual advantage to both our species and peace in this region of the galaxy?
     Admittedly "D" was not the top answer, but it is true that the  storyline -- the "videogame libretto" as it 
     were -- is very important to players.

     Obviously the real threat to young people's psychological well-being is the wide availability of cheat codes. 
     Cheat codes make kids think that life is easy. Just set the world to "unlimited ammo, all weapons, walk 
     through walls." The false sense of self-esteem created by using cheat codes will eventually buckle with 
     potentially catastrophic consequences. It would be interesting to know if Kleibold or Harris used cheat codes. 
     I suspect they did.

     It is strange how, regarding censorship, liberal and conservative viewpoints converge. One reason not to vote 
     for Al Gore is that his wife, Tipper, will feel empowered to push her plan of mandatory ratings for pop music, 
     and certainly videogames are on her mind. Conservatives who have already proven themselves willing to 
     censor science that does not conform to their fantasy about the world will happily put violent videogames in 
     the pornography section.

     The bottom line is that our schools are safe despite the fact that each morning lots of suburban white boys 
     show up after just having destroyed a battalion or two of bad guys, one by one, the night before. Millions of 
     people play these games, two run off on a shooting spree and pundits declare that videogames are "eating 
     away the soul of our society."

     Last week I was watching a 10-year-old named Louie, playing a much more graphic videogame, called Myth: 
     The Fallen Lords
(which has a sequel as well, Myth II: Soulblighter). It is produced by a company called 
     Bungie, that literally prides itself on gore. ["Bon Carnage!" is the salutation they offer visitors to their web 
"Lookit the piles of bodies and blood!" he exclaimed to me gleefully, as though the key element of the
     game was not to destroy the enemy, but to actually create stacks of bodies.

     Unlike a first-person shooter, which has only one guy and one weapon at a time, Myth involves taking tactical
     command of a variety of troops. To win at Myth requires facility with many of the elements of warfare: Troop
     massing, reconnaissance and combined arms tactics. Dozens of your troops are mercilessly slaughtered as 
     they patrol around the map under your inevitably incompetent command.

     "Knowhat?" said Louie, "a person's heart pumps enough blood in one day to lift an elevator like 100 floors!" 
     He said this as his squad of warriors was getting obliterated by some undead giants. Louie was focused 
     intently on the action. "If that's true, I guess the blood should actually spurt even further."

     You might think that this would have been a good time to check the room for hacksaws, pipe fragments,
     gunpowder residue and swastika posters, but instead I offered a piece of advice based on my own long and 
     varied experience as a youngster. "Charging up a hill against undead giants never works. You have to coax 
     them down and hit them from a distance with your Warlock's fireballs."

     Wynar is a physics graduate student.

      Like too many other people reacting to the Littleton incident you're asking the wrong questions and 
      responding to the wrong "crises".

      Buried at the core of the video violence and gun control debates is a complex shift in the way our culture has
      changed.  The best analysis I've heard on the topic came from Lt. Col David Grossman, a West Point 
      psychology prof and Army Ranger who specializes in studying human response to use of deadly force. 
      Specifically, his job for many years has been to understand how the military can quickly train good, moral 
      soldiers to overcome their natural resistance to killing other humans.

      He wrote a book called "On Killing" that has taken the law enforcement and military training world by storm. 
      It was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Additionally Calibre Press (one of the big police training companies) is 
      now selling an audiotape of one of his lectures.  I will spin you a copy of the tape if you want to hear it.  As
      someone who normally questions all the psuedoscience out there I think you'd appreciate it.  His conclusions 
      are drawn from supportable data, and experimentation, not just opinion.

      When I'm not working as a research engineer I run a firearms training school here in town.  Our staff includes
      civilians and law enforcement personnel (including 2 APD SWAT team members).  In teaching about 1000
      students personally, particularly beginners, I've acquired a fair amount of insight into the effects the media 
      has on people's perceptions of guns and violence. In the pre-TV years, most Americans were socialized to 
      guns through hands on experience: target shooting and hunting, typically supervised by family members.  A
      child's first hunt, or first firearm, served as symbolic recognition of the child's maturity and responsibility by 
      the parents. Through hunting, the child learned, first hand, about what is involved in pointing a firearm at 
      another creature, making the conscious decision to end its life, and living with the consequences.  That child's
      exposure to violence as "entertainment" was limited:  violence is better suited to visual media, and dialogue, 
      not action, made up most radio programs. Movies were, at best, viewed for a few hours a week, not 4-6 hours 
      per day.

      Entertainment heroes, especially those in Western and war movies, were shown using deadly force within the
      bounds of a moral code - the same code that society upholds with its laws.  The attitude of entertainment 
      heroes regarding guns more closely reflected the attitudes of the gun-owning populace too.

      Compare that to today.  Most Americans are socialized to guns by watching thousands and thousands of
      fictionalized murders in the media.  Hunting and gun ownership are not "politically correct".  Offering to take 
      a neighbor's child shooting is less acceptable than offering that child illegal drugs or condoms.  Entertainment
      media is available in many formats, 24 hours a day, and it's easier for our largely passive populace to find 
      thrills and chills through the 'virtual' world than by actively doing *anything*.  According to the psychologists,
      violence can produce the same pleasurable arousal as sex -- and since our culture finds the portrayal of 
      physical love between two adults more offensive than mass murder, the mainstream media gives us what we
      want.  They are in the business of making money, and the customer is always right.

     As a firearms and use of force instructor I teach my students a rigid code of gun safety, gun storage, and use 
     of deadly force in defense of self or others known to them.  In our classes we talk honestly about the real
     consequences of misusing force: the physical, moral, and legal issues.

     Nowhere -- absolutely NOWHERE -- in the "media", can I find examples of that behavior exhibited by "good
     guys".  The law enforcement and military "heroes" of today's movies are psychopathic murderers who, in real
     life, would be prosecuted and imprisoned for their illegal abuses of their authority.  The fact that we don't have,
     and don't seem to *want*, any heroes worth emulating should be of great concern to everyone.

     You don't seem to believe that "the media" has any effect on behavior. Can you explain, then, why novice 
     level shooters in our basic classes start out imitating the horribly incorrect and ineffective shooting techniques
     they've seen on TV?  Can you explain why local martial arts instructors saw a boom in children's classes after
     "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" went on the air?  Can you explain why sales of S&W .44 magnums went 
     through the roof after the release of "Dirty Harry"?  I could give a hundred more examples of how behavior, 
     and more dangerously for my students, decisions about use of deadly force, are influenced by TV.

     That's not the only negative effect the media's saturation broadcasting of violence has had on our culture.

     In a recent debate on gun control on the austin.general newsgroup I spent more time explaining firearms
     technology than I did on another other issue.  Why?  Because the way guns are shown in the media does not
     reflect how they work in real life.  On TV, guns don't recoil, they never run out of ammo, bullets bounce off 
     cars but knock people through walls, and a thousand other errors.  People who have no real world experience
     about firearms and gunshot wounds end up with some very dangerous, wrong, ideas. And we pass a lot of
     misguided laws as a result.  The media uses this to their advantage: during the debate on the assault weapon 
     ban NBC repeatedly used footage of guns firing fully automatic as a backdrop for news reports on the issue --
     despite the fact that fully automatic guns were not affected by the new law and had been regulated back in the

     But polls consistently showed that the populace believed that fully automatic military style weapons were
     "commonly used in crime" and easy to get, despite FBI crime data and testimony from real cops to the 
     contrary.  They believed it because they were apparently unable to separate all the incidents they'd seen on 
     TV shows from reality.

     In the absence of real experience, we rely on "virtual" experience. We mistake the images stored in our 
     memory from TV and computer games for reality.  Whether we want to or not.

     Law enforcement and military training, and our own training program, make extensive use of simulation to
     condition the appropriate responses in deadly force situations.  This is because research and actual incidents 
     have shown that repetitive immersion - operant conditioning - as Grossman calls it, is the single most effective
     way to train people to handle life-threatening stress.  That's because those high-stress training exercises 
     create strong memories of the correct responses that can be recalled by the subconsious under extreme

     I'll leave you with this one:  in his lecture, Col. Grossman references the case of Michael Carneal, the boy in
     Padukah, KY.  Raised in a house with no firearms, never allowed to touch a real gun, the boy was given an 
     arcade style first person shooter video game, and allowed to play it as many hours as he wanted.  On the day 
     of his rampage, the boy stole a .22 pistol, fired a few practice rounds with it, and went to school. He 
     approached a prayer group, planted his feet, and fired 8 rounds.

     The typical police officer, in a gunfight, hits with less than 25% of his shots.  Michael hit with all 8.  Normal 
     human reaction to the stress of killing another human being causes tremors and other physiological reactions. 
     The normal reaction, in a gunfight, is to fire at a target until it goes down. Michael fired one shot at each target
     and moved on.  Five of his shots were head shots.  The game he mastered awarded extra points for head shots.

     Consider this:  in the recorded history of conflicts involving firearms there has NEVER been a feat of high 
     speed precision marksmanship against human targets to match Carneal's shooting against the kids in 
     Padukah. Not by a criminal, a cop, a citizen, or a soldier.  Ever.

     During World War II the Japanese military trained its soldiers to kill by taking a prisoner and gathering their
     young unblooded privates around him. One private would be told to bayonet the prisoner to death while the 
     others watched.  The other privates cheered the killer on, as he savagely murdered a helpless man.  After the
     killing was done, the whole platoon was rewarded with the best meal they'd had in days, and the "comfort girls"
     were brought in.

     Stimulus, response.  Stimulus, response.  Killing = pleasure.

     One high school teacher in Jonesboro admitted that her students first reaction to news that someone was 
     killing middle school students was laughter -- just as they had done in every movie theatre during every 
     slasher film and ultra-violent action movie.  Whether it directly causes someone to go out and kill or not, 
     should we really be programming ourselves to equate death and murder with happiness?  Is that really the 
     way you want to live?

     Your column missed the point entirely.  What's important isn't whether or not we censor the videogames.  It's 
     the whole package of what messages about violence "the media" is selling us, and how destructive it's been 
     to our society.  Grossman claims that every 15 years since 1950 we've seen a doubling of the aggravated 
     assault rate - a trend that follows the increase in the level and frequency that violence is shown on television.
     Over that same period American per capita gun ownership has dropped, and restrictions on gun ownership 
     have increased dramatically.  Do the math.

     Maybe you should stick to physics and leave sociology and psychology to those with real-world experience.


  Reflective article re: the messages

   Perhaps some of you will want to send a message through Terrie's site, if you haven't 
   already. Just for the record, it is a high personal honor and thrill to call Terrie 
   Gray my personal friend!  What a huge positive difference she is making in this world,
   this society!

   Thanks to Kate Roberts for sending this to me.

   ---------- Forwarded message ----------
   Date: Sat, 1 May 1999 19:38:39 -0500 (CDT)
   From: Kate M. Roberts <kmr4@Ra.MsState.Edu>
   To: lsa1@Ra.MsState.Edu
   Subject: FYI: (Long) Reflective article re: the messages

   Hi. I sent this to a couple of papers today as a way to say thanks to everyone. Thought 
   you might want to see it too. tg
   Two years ago I was teaching junior high English and science and attending graduate school
   when my career took an unexpected turn . AT&T's Learning Network funded my proposal to 
   create and manage a web site for helping teachers use the Internet. Since then, I've been 
   working with volunteer staff from across the country to recommend resources and to support 
   teachers'online participation in our project, ED's Oasis.

   While we haven't been able to accomplish everything we'd hoped to, we were fairly pleased 
   with our work, that is, until we heard about the shooting at Columbine High School April 
   20. Suddenly, our efforts to "help teachers" seemed trivial. None of our links, lesson 
   plans, or articles would ease the shock or grief those teachers were experiencing. 

   Through a series of phone calls, we explored ways we could use the web site to reach out 
   to members of our online community and invite them to help us support our colleagues in 
   Littleton.  A little before 7 p.m. Tuesday evening, we contacted artist Stefanie Eskander, 
   who agreed to create a commemorative graphic. She got the image to us later that evening 
   and we assembled a new front page for our web site.  Then we posted the following message 
   online and awaited the results: 

   "The tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, has touched us deeply. We 
   invite you to take a moment to share your thoughts at ED's Oasis. We've changed the front 
   page and linked to an online form to make it easy for you.  If you'd like to send a 
   message to staff members or share how you've helped your students cope in grief-filled 
   times, please go to   We will send your reflections to those in 
   Littleton, and post them on the site."

   By the next morning, we'd received about 20 messages. By noon, we'd gotten  100. Then the
   Excite search engine's news tracker  and Pacific Bell's Blue Web'n  Education  site posted links to us - and the 
   floodgates opened. By Sunday, we had received 500 messages. By April 27, one week after 
   the massacre, more than 1500 messages had come in. And they're still coming in, although 
   the rate has dropped significantly. 

   We were astonished not only by the number of messages received, but by their geographical 
   origin. People from every state in the US, Washington, D.C., and from 17 other countries 
   managed to find our web site and had taken time to write.

   Even more incredible was the content of the messages. As one would expect, those received 
   in the first days after the shooting were filled with expressions of shock, horror, sorrow, 
   and dismay. But other, more important themes emerged. Nearly everyone who wrote included 
   these two sentiments: You are not alone: your grief is our grief. We are here for you. 
   Have faith. We will pray for you. 

   Adults authored most of the messages sent the first few days. Then it was clear that 
   teachers were telling their students about the site and inviting them to send in their 
   thoughts.  At that point, both students and adults seemed to be trying to find a way to 
   express their understanding - however limited - of what the students, teachers, and 
   parents were experiencing in Littleton. 

   Parents told of losing their children to illness, auto accidents, or violence; students 
   described how upset they were when a friend or relative committed suicide; administrators 
   reflected on how students' deaths affected everyone in a school; and young children 
   remembered how sad they were when their pets died. Everyone was extending the message 
   "We are like you. We understand."

   Some of the messages were intensely personal. It was both humbling and overwhelming to be 
   trusted with these heart-felt narratives. One student wrote that she knew what the 
   Columbine students were thinking during the shooting because her dad had tried to kill 
   her and her family last year. She remembered crouching in her hiding place and thinking,
   "Am I next?" Like the teacher from Canada whose fiancée had been shot and killed last 
   year at school, this girl encouraged the Columbine students to believe that they could 
   get through the terror of April 20. "I'm still here, aren't I? You can do it too," she 

   We were pleased to receive comforting messages from residents of Pearl, Mississippi, 
   Padukah,  Kentucky, Oregon, Scotland, and Australia -- sites of previous school shootings. 
   Someone wrote in from Oklahoma City to commiserate and to affirm that it was possible to 
   reconstruct both strong buildings and a healthy community. 

   Once media coverage began focusing on memorial services and stories of individual 
   students, the nature of the messages changed. Writers began to be more reflective, and 
   to examine how they would act in similar circumstances. Teachers asked themselves if they 
   would be as courageous as Coach Sanders. Students confessed that they were frightened, 
   that they realized that this event "could happen anywhere," and they wondered if they 
   could trust their classmates. But they also told how the shooting was already having a 
   positive effect at their schools by sharing reports of candle-light vigils, prayer 
   services, and safety drills.

   After a week had passed, the messages became longer, and-if possible-even more personal. 
   There was a new purpose in writing. Most messages still conveyed the universal themes 
   described above, but they also contained a commitment. Educators, parents, and business 
   people pledge that they will be part of the solution. They commit themselves to reaching 
   out to their own children, to their students, and to their neighbors. They encourage 
   others to be more involved at home and on legislation, particularly on gun control.  
   They are determined to honor the memory of those killed at Columbine High School 
   by making the world a better place through positive individual action.  They vow that 
   the 15 dead shall not have died in vain. 

   I was asked by a reporter, in a phone interview,  if anyone in Littleton had sent in a 
   message and had to answer, "No." Although I have friends and relatives there who are 
   helping us complete our objective of delivering these messages to their intended 
   recipients, it hasn't happened yet. But it will. And, after the intense media attention 
   is diminished, the series of memorial services complete, and the reorganization of the 
   schools accomplished, perhaps the community affected by the Columbine shooting will be 
   ready to receive them. 

   Originally, we thought it was those educators we were helping. But it turned out that we 
   accomplished something else, we-like others providing similar services - were able to 
   offer the global community an "opportunity to express our own grief and to reach out to 
   our counterparts at Columbine." Since we acknowledged all messages which included valid 
   email addresses, we sometimes got a "you're welcome" response. One person wrote: "I just 
   felt that I had to do something....I have been so very sad about all of this and feel so 
   helpless! Letting the community of Littleton know that we are ALL here for them and feel 
   their sadness was a way to express my feelings! I just wish that I could do more!  
   Thank you for allowing us the privilege of using your web site!"

   The reporter also asked if I thought the Internet itself was to blame for the shooting. 
   After all, the gunmen had allegedly used the Web to learn how to make their bombs and 
   their Web site to spread a message of hate. This time I was glad to answer, "No." The 
   Internet, like the telephone, is a neutral communications tool. People provide the 
   content. People determine whether the message is uplifting or downgrading. At ED's Oasis, 
   we learned that the Internet can be used to facilitate positive connections between 
   people from all over the world. How else could teachers from Malaysia, New York, South 
   Africa, and Nebraska offer support for their colleagues in a Colorado suburb?

   Reading and screening 1600+ messages, and editing a selection of them to publish online 
   was not easy. It took almost every waking minute for more than a week. Sometimes the 
   stories or the poetry were so emotional that it was hard to continue. But we're grateful 
   that we were able to do this. It has been an honor. And, we are even more convinced than 
   ever that while some people do terrible things to others, most people are unselfish, 
   compassionate, and desire to do good works. It has been a privilege to receive these 
   messages, and has felt like we've been able to converse with 1600 noble individuals 
   from around the world.

   To the community of Littleton, Colorado, we offer our sincere sympathy, and to the global 
   community we extend our deepest appreciation for their participation in this effort. 

   Thank you,

   Terrie Gray, Ed. D.
   Paradise, CA
LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) —Two students in black trench coats swept through their suburban high school with guns and explosives in a horrifying suicide attack Tuesday, April 20, 1999, that left as many as 25 people dead. Several students said the killers were gunning for minorities and athletes. It was by far the bloodiest in a string of school shootings that have rocked U.S. communities over the past few years. At least 23 people were hospitalized, most of them with gunshot wounds. One girl suffered nine shrapnel wounds. At least 11 victims were in critical or serious condition; one was in guarded condition.

On March 24, 1998 the shooting death of four young girls and a teacher in Jonesboro, Arkansas at the hands of two students, aged 11 and 13, was a horrible event. These precious children's lives are gone. They will never get married and have children and grandchildren. The children who shot these children have ruined their own lives and the lives of their victim's families forever.

On April 26, 1998, in Greensboro, N.C. a four-year-old boy shot and killed a six-year-old playmate.The six-year-old was shot in the neck on his birthday, after the children found a loaded .38 caliber semi-automatic handgun in a purse.

On April 27, 1998 in Edinboro, Pa., a teenage boy opened fire on fellow students and teachers at a school dance in rural northwestern Pennsylvania, killing a teacher and wounding two youths.

On March 24, 1998 the shooting death of four young girls and a teacher in Jonesboro, Arkansas at the hands of two students, aged 11 and 13, was a horrible event. These precious children's lives are gone. They will never get married and have children and grandchildren. The children who shot these children have ruined their own lives and the lives of their victim's families forever.

Some reports suggest that violence at schools is now on the rise, recent high-profile killings at schools in Pearl, Miss., and West Padukah, Ky., have highlighted the scourge of kids and guns and suggest that adolescents -- and not just in the inner city -- are seeking revenge, maybe even thrills, with firearms.

The most recent news occurred on May 19, 1998 in Tampa, Florida. The killing started with a rifle shot at 10 a.m. that left Joey Bennett, a 4-year-old Tampa boy dead. Before the long, bloody day was done, two veteran Tampa police detectives and a rookie highway patrol trooper were murdered and the suspect in all four deaths, a habitual felon with a love of automatic weapons, died by his own hand. See the St. Petersburg Times' story about this horrid story. Marvelicious is from Tampa, Florida. We were all on the edge of our seats with fear this entire day! Below you will find a wonderful memorial to the 3 officers who lost their lives, Rick Childers, Randy Bell, and James Crookes. Please see my dedication to these 3 heroes.

In The Line Of Duty

SPRINGFIELD, Ore., May 21, 1998 — A 15-year-old student expelled for bringing a handgun to school returned to the high school Thursday and opened fire in a crowded cafeteria, killing a classmate and injuring 23, officials said. Police later found two adults dead in the suspect’s home. A student at the school said the gunman had vowed to “shoot everybody,” but the threats were ignored. The student killed 4 and injured 23.

I am the mother of a child who was killed senselessly ~ not by a child, but by a 20 year old girl. My son was 20 years old when he was killed as a result of an accidental shooting. My son was not a child, but he was *my* child. I am deathly afraid of guns, therefore, I will not use one. Would you like to know why? It's because I am not educated on gun use. When there is no education on gun use, don't carry one, don't use one and certainly don't try to defend yourself with one. Why? Because the person you are trying to defend yourself may be educated in gun use or simply do not care about human life. They are the ones who can take that gun away from you and use it on you! Please get educated! Please don't go out there unprotected. This is a cruel world where violence is on the upswing. Parents, please lock up your guns and keep the key handy to only yourselves. I understand it is necessary to have a gun handy if you should have a break-in or home invasion, but is it worth your child's life should he or she find that gun? No, it is not.

Vicki Robinson Stabbed to Death

Vicki Robinson was murdered in Tampa, Florida, by her daughter, a 15 year old girl, along with her boyfriend and his friend on June 17, 1998. Vicki Robinson was stabbed to death and her body found after a week long search as a missing person. Her daughter and 2 of her friends are now charged with 1st degree murder. The two men will be eligible for the death penalty. The 15 year old, however, will face a maximum penalty of life in prison because of her age. Our condolences go out to the family of Vicki Robinson.

Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between teen rebellion and the warning signs of serious problems. Take a look at the separate guidelines.

Signs of typical teen rebellion

Spiteful toward parents/siblings
Sensitive to criticism
Short outbursts of anger
Acts tough
Tests limits


Problematic teen behavior

Difficulty concentrating
Truancy/failing grades
Extremely reclusive
Destructive/antisocial behavior
Resistance to discipline
Resentful of authority
Extended periods of depression or anger
Sexual promiscuity/drug use
Repeated runaway attempts
Frequent accidents/illnesses

Kathleen Heide, a University of South Florida criminology professor and author of "Why Kids Kill Parents: Child Abuse and Adolescent Homicide", says: "So often parents won't seem help until a child is 15 or 16. By then the kid has been ruling the house for years. When a child acts out, deal with it then. If a child walks out, the parent needs to go after them. If more extreme measures are needed, take them."

Source: University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service

Kids & Guns and Other Childhood Deaths 


A lawyer for families of victims of a 1997 Kentucky mass school shooting said yesterday he'll sue moviemaker Steven Spielberg if he doesn't pull violent video games from his arcade chain. 

Jack Thompson, who represents the families of three girls killed in the Paducah, Ky., shootings, also called on Democratic presidential wannabe Al Gore to pressure Spielberg to remove games such as "Time Crisis 2" from his GameWorks arcades, where kids of all ages are free to play them. 

In "Time Crisis 2," which is made by NAMCO and distributed by Sony, the object of the game is to shoot as many humans as possible. The American Amusement Machine Association rates the game: "Animated Violence - Strong." 

GameWorks are multi-entertainment centers, with video games, bars and restaurants, founded by Spielberg. They're located in 11 cities, including Littleton, Colo., hometown of Columbine HS. 

Thompson has sued the makers of the film, "The Basketball Diaries," and video-game makers, contending that they incited the 1997 shooting rampage by 14-year-old Michael Corneal, who killed three teenagers and wounded five. 

Thompson has been retained by the families of the three girls who were slain: Jessica James, 17, Kayce Steger, 15, and Nicole Hadley, 14. He lost the first round of his suit in federal court in Kentucky but is appealing it. 

Now he is threatening to sue Spielberg under Florida's nuisance law unless Spielberg has the violence-simulating shooting games removed from his outlets by Sept. 21. Under the state law, one can be sued for being a public nuisance and a danger to public health and safety. 

Thompson charges that the games provoke violence in children. "I have seen kids as young as 10, their eyes glazed, playing this game ... They are learning that killing is fun, and that doing so is without consequence," Thompson wrote to Spielberg, referring to another shooting game, "House of the Dead." 

A Deluge Of Lawsuits Foreseen in Littleton

 Washington Post
A Section; Page A22
April 23, 1999
Byline: David Segal; Washington Post Staff Writer

    As police in Littleton, Colo., sift through the aftermath of the country's deadliest school shooting, lawyers are already sizing up potential lawsuits and are trying to determine whom they can sue. In previous school shootings, victims' families have filed suit against the killers' parents, the schools, gun manufacturers and even makers of  computer games and movies alleged to have helped spur murderous rampages.

    Lawyers predicted yesterday that these and other potential causes of action will be explored in Littleton. The variety and number of weapons involved in the attack and the obvious premeditation required to pull it off raise the possibility that others may have known and could have prevented the carnage. Such knowledge could create liability. In the past, parents of the killers were sued under their homeowners policies, which typically provide only about $300,000 in civil liability coverage. But with dozens of potential claims, experts predict lawyers will search broadly for deeper pockets. "I'd like to find out where they got these weapons, where this fascination with Hitler came from," said John Coale, a Washington plaintiffs' lawyer. "There's a possible Internet angle, and every time Hollywood makes a movie in which 150 get killed, I think we get closer to a level of responsibility that is compensible."

    Any talk of lawsuits, for the time being, is strictly speculative. Colorado law prohibits attorneys from soliciting clients until 30 days after an injury. Several leading Denver lawyers said yesterday that they had not heard about parents contemplating lawsuits. Still, these lawyers said the Littleton tragedy is almost certain to yield a multitude of filings. One possible target being mentioned: the local sheriff's department. Randy Brown, a parent of a Columbine High student, told reporters he contacted the local police after hearing that Eric Harris was making pipe bombs. Sheriff's departments are shielded by governmental immunity laws, but plaintiff's attorneys said parents could get around that protection by filing civil rights claims.

    "Parents could argue that their children's civil rights were violated because of the loss of life and liberty," said Marc Kaplan, president of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association. "Similar claims have worked in the past." Suing schools after such tragedies is tricky, largely because it's difficult to prove that school officials could have prevented deadly incidents. Nonetheless, some plaintiff's lawyers in Colorado have said lawsuits against Columbine High won't be ruled out until more details emerge about what teachers knew and when they knew it.

    "I'd be curious about whether these two kids were doing things in school that had caused interoffice correspondence between teachers and their higher-ups," said Walter Gerash, a Denver plaintiff's lawyer. "I would think that some of these teachers knew these guys were obsessed with guns and weapons."

    In Jonesboro, Ark., the site of a grisly school shooting by a pair of pre-teenage boys in March 1998, the Westside Middle School was spared litigation after an attorney for victims' families concluded that a negligence case against the school and teachers there was not warranted. But lawyer Bobby McDaniel has sued the parents of the now-convicted killers in Jonesboro, as well as gunmakers and the owner of the guns used in the assault. McDaniel plans to argue in court that the parents of Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden failed to properly raise and supervise their children, an allegation they are fighting. An Arkansas judge has tossed out several motions to dismiss the case, and it is now in the midst of pretrial discovery. "There is case law that if parents have knowledge of the vicious tendencies of their children and know they're a danger, the parents have an obligation to protect society from those kids," McDaniel said. But parents and schools rarely have enough insurance coverage to produce huge settlements, which could explain why some lawyers set their sights on wealthier targets. After a 1997 shooting that left three students dead in West Paducah, Ky., attorneys for the victims' families alleged in a complaint that the movie "The Basketball Diaries," the video game "Mortal Combat" and several pornographic Web sites inspired 14-year-old Michael Corneal to open fire on his classmates.

    The suit, considered a long shot by legal experts, seeks $130 million in damages from Time Warner, Polygram Film Entertainment Distribution, Nintendo, Sega and Sony. School officials across the country contend that they're vigilant about spotting signs of trouble but complain that they're often hamstrung by civil liberties laws and, just as frequently, disgruntled parents. Principals who take steps to make schools safer occasionally find themselves embroiled in litigation. Officials at Gooding High School in Gooding, Idaho, for instance, tried last September to expel a student who accidentally shot a classmate in  the neck with a pellet gun on campus. His parents sued, and a magistrate eventually reversed the expulsion. "I'm trying to provide a safe campus, and this sort of thing is frustrating," said Dennis Osman, the school's principal. "My hands are sort of tied."

    In Littleton, school officials are already being scrutinized for missing warning signs that might have prevented the disaster. Forecasting many lawsuits, Marc Kaplan of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association said, "There certainly is a question of how these kids could have put together so many bombs and bought so many guns without anyone knowing what they were up to."


 April 23, 1999

Copyright (c) 1999 The Washington Post

  • May 1999- Conyers, Georgia 15 year old wounds six classmates

  • April 1999 - Littleton, Colorado Two teenagers kill 13 classmates, themselves, and wound 28 others

  • June 1998 - Richmond, Virginia 14 year old wounds a teacher and a school volunteer

  • May 1998 - Springfield, Oregon 15 year old kills two students, wounds 19 others, is believed to have also killed his parents

  • May 1998 - Fayetteville, Tennessee 18 year old honor student shoots and kills a classmate

  • April 1998 -Edinboro, Pennsylvania 14 year old shoots and kills science teacher

  • March 1998 -Jonesborough, Arkansas 13 and 11 year old boys shoot four girls and a teacher to death, and wound 10 others

  • December 1997 - West Paducah, Kentucky 14 year old kills three students and wounds five

  • October 1997 - Pearl, Mississippi 16 year old stabs mother to death, shoots 2 students to death and wounds 7 others

  • February 1996 - Moses Lake, Washington 14 year old kills two students and a teacher, wounds another student

  • All of the perpetrators are white males

  • Suspects are adolescent, alienated, and armed

  • Attacks were planned well thought events

  • Shooters had trouble adjusting socially

  • Victims were targeted randomly

  • Luke Woodham, 16, (Paducah) formed a gang called “The Group”,”which was based on the violent anti-Christian writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher

  • Michael Corneal (Paducah) hung out with a group that were fascinated with the occult

  • Mitchell Johnson, (Jonesboro) told his parents the he was joining a gang.

  • Others had reported to belong to violent groups outside of average adolescent social groups.