PADUKAH, KENTUCKY REMEMBERED
WHY DO KIDS KILL KIDS?
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.
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 missingBy 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.
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.
"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."
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.
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.
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."
DO YOU KNOW?
# "The profile of a potentially violent student
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
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.
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: [snip] > > 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. [snip] -- 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
By JOSHUA LEWIS
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.
|* Three million crimes per year are committed in and
around schools, com- pared to one million in American workplaces (Sautter,
* 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.
|(No longer available on the Web)
|Making sense of Jonesboro
HARVARD PSYCHIATRIST ALVIN POUSSAINT SAYS THAT BLAME FOR THE SCHOOL YARD MURDERS ULTIMATELY LIES WITH MITCHELL JOHNSON AND ANDREW GOLDEN, BUT OUR VIOLENT SOCIETY ISN'T MAKING IT EASY TO BE A KID.
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.
There was almost a game-like quality to the killing, with the kids dressing up in fatigues, then hiding in the bushes like snipers.
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
Fear. In today's American public
school systems, students are now forced into fearing for
As the student body and the
faculty of Columbine High School in Littleton,Colorado are
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
Since Columbine's tragedy, my
friends and I have been discussing this issue frequently. We
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
The public has criticized the NRA
(National Rifle Association), violence in the media, and
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
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
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
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)
However, Huebner (1993) has shown in recent surveys that less than
one fifth of a typical school psychologist's
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
The great majority of students with mental health needs do not
receive treatment (Pfeiffer & Reddy, 1998). We
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,
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
In 1985 there were approximately 19,000 homicides in the United
States and between 10% and 20% were
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%
Teachers told Louis Harris that 64 percent of in-school violence
takes place in the hallways or stairways, 16
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
|Dateline: June 4 1999
red text was ommitted from the article as it appeared in the Daily texan
OVERREACTING TO VIDEOGAME VIOLENCE
The survey question was: When watching a
mutant creature being ripped apart by rapid bursts of bullets
Obviously the real threat to young
people's psychological well-being is the wide availability of cheat
It is strange how, regarding censorship,
liberal and conservative viewpoints converge. One reason not to vote
The bottom line is that our schools are
safe despite the fact that each morning lots of suburban white boys
Last week I was watching a 10-year-old
named Louie, playing a much more graphic videogame, called Myth:
Unlike a first-person shooter, which has
only one guy and one weapon at a time, Myth involves taking tactical
"Knowhat?" said Louie, "a
person's heart pumps enough blood in one day to lift an elevator like
You might think that this would have been
a good time to check the room for hacksaws, pipe fragments,
Wynar is a physics graduate student.
Buried at the core of the video violence and gun control debates
is a complex shift in the way our culture has
He wrote a book called "On Killing" that has taken the
law enforcement and military training world by storm.
When I'm not working as a research engineer I run a firearms
training school here in town. Our staff includes
Entertainment heroes, especially those in Western and war movies,
were shown using deadly force within the
Compare that to today. Most Americans are socialized to guns
by watching thousands and thousands of
As a firearms and use of force instructor I teach my students a
rigid code of gun safety, gun storage, and use
Nowhere -- absolutely NOWHERE -- in the "media", can I
find examples of that behavior exhibited by "good
You don't seem to believe that "the media" has any
effect on behavior. Can you explain, then, why novice
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
But polls consistently showed that the populace believed that
fully automatic military style weapons were
In the absence of real experience, we rely on "virtual"
experience. We mistake the images stored in our
Law enforcement and military training, and our own training
program, make extensive use of simulation to
I'll leave you with this one: in his lecture, Col. Grossman
references the case of Michael Carneal, the boy in
The typical police officer, in a gunfight, hits with less than 25%
of his shots. Michael hit with all 8. Normal
During World War II the Japanese military trained its soldiers to
kill by taking a prisoner and gathering their
Stimulus, response. Stimulus, response. Killing = pleasure.
One high school teacher in Jonesboro admitted that her students
first reaction to news that someone was
Your column missed the point entirely. What's important
isn't whether or not we censor the videogames. It's
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. http://www.edsoasis.org 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 http://www.edsoasis.org 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 www.excite.com and Pacific Bell's Blue Web'n http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/bluewebn/ 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 wrote. 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.
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
Problematic teen behavior
Source: University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service
LAWYER: I'LL SUE SPIELBERG OVER VIOLENT GAMES By BRIAN BLOMQUIST New York Post | Sunday,September 17, 2000 WASHINGTON -
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
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.
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
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
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