March 11, 2001    





What do you think is the underlying cause of the recent school shootings?

After several days of this discussion in an online community I frequent, I am really sick of it. I don't know what caused it, and at this point I don't care.  Maybe it was violence in video games, maybe the kids called the shooter "gay" too much (I did read an article about this in my local queer paper), maybe it was violence in music. I don't know, none of us do.  I am planning to become a teacher eventually, though, so it is an issue that will impact me someday.

etoile, 20

Kids with easy access to weapons.
Kids with low self esteem.
Many images of gratuitous violence.
Constant media coverage.

Laura, 36
, MA    USA

Gun laws that are not very strick, parents and others who leave weapons in easy access places, adults who don't pay attention, a culture where violence is glorified, and most importantly failing to find mechanisms to let young people talk about and resolve their anger and frustration in constructive forums.

Felicia, 35
, MA    USA

I think it is a mix off things including the fault of the actual child.

Stephanie, 25

A combination of lack of moral training, availability of guns, and societal all or nothing attitudes.

Jane, 60
West Linn

The underlying cause of the shool shootings cannot be answered in a simple question. Factors such as lack of respect for their own lives (consequently others lives), anger, wanting to be noticed, too many factors too list. Unfortunately, there is a copy cat phenomenon that once somebody does something, other people decide to do it too.

Mick, 30
, IL   USA

In the States? Well a big step would be making hand guns illegal. It would make access to guns a lot harder for kids/teens to get a hold of them.

Dianne, 16
Oshawa, Ontario  CANADA

I think the problem with school shootings is the lack of parents being in   the home and that causes alot of problems with children and teens. I know both parents have to work to make ends meet. I also think it is a lack of discipline in the home but when parents work all day they don't want to come home and discipline. I also think that the lack of prayer in our schools and god in the family are causing problems. I don't know the answer to how to stop these shooting other than correcting the above. I thinks the children and teens don't realize when they shoot someone and kill them it is   permanent and then thay have to pay. I think that parents and family should be more observant to their children and teens and maybe they can see some of the problems that could lead their children into doing something as shooting others. I just pray that these shootings stop. I worry everyday as I have grandchildren in schhol and you never know when it can hit home.

Marci, 55
, OH    USA

The recent school shootings have a different cause than all the other school shootings? I mean, it happens about every year and people are still surprised and look for people to blame. It's the parents' fault, TV's fault, music's fault. And everybody claims either to be overly surprised--"He was such a good kid!"--or not surprised at all--"I saw this coming. He was a threatening figure." It's all just plain ridiculous. Another thing that's ridiculous is that I hear kids aren't allowed to have backpacks at my high school anymore. If a kid is the sort who takes a weapon to school, (s)he probably doesn't care that much about rules and will find a way to get a weapon in anyway. If there are metal detectors, they can take plastic knives. So what's the point in making the so-called good kids suffer from these security measures? Apparently, it makes people feel better about the situation, although there's no real reason that they SHOULD feel better. Anyway, to answer the question properly, I think the underlying cause is that anyone who would shoot someone at a school probably does not have it all together. Of course, society's definition of having it all together is another thing I might take issue with, but I won't at this point.

Karen, 21

Youthful emotions bottled up for all the wrong reasons, then unleashed in a society where accessibility to adult tools and toys is rampant.

Fisch, 45
, CT   USA

Stressed out kids with guns who spend 180 days a year in a place they hate.

Alias Irrelevante

I think the underlying is cause if the fact that parents don't give a shit. Some parents can't even tell when their child is sad or disturbed. Even if they cared enough to see this, they don't know how to help. Give little Johnny a pill and send him to school. And once he's at school, he's at the mercy of school administrators that don't give a shit either. People have to make up and realize that the commen view of peer pressure doesn't exist, nor does the easy definition of bullying. They have no idea what it's like to go to school and be humiliated every single day for something you can't change.

Jaden, 21
Brampton, Ontario  CANADA

In "Anna Karenina" Tolstoy wrote, "All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own fashion." While certain unhealthy and pervasive aspects of American 21st Century culture such as a glorification of violence; a official tolerance of bullying and a disdain for tattletales have created a climate of unrest, each of the gun-abusing children involved in the school shootings arrived at the moment of murder by an individual path of misery.

Jill, 60

I think none of the school shootings had anything to do with the entertainment industry; it was a total scapegoat. It's about kids with parents who don't nurture, communicate, discipline, or encourage. It's acting out; it's an extreme form of needing attention. It's a societal problem.

Katie2, 18
, MI   USA

The recent school shotings might have been the conclusion to depression.

Jason, 21
, NY   USA

the shooters are missing the chemical serotonin in their brains

Melodi, 19
, OH   USA

Well, I know what it's not: music, accessibility of guns, or violence in the media/tv/etc. I think the cause is most likely a combination of a lack of concerned parenting (ie parents who don't take time to get to know their kids as people rather than as little slaves of the household) and a lack of compassion and acceptance by peers.

Angela, 16
, SC    USA

Easy access to guns combined with schools really falling down on the job when it comes to enforcing their own rules about bullying. With two of the recent shootings -- Columbine and Sanatee -- the students with the guns were being constantly attacked and harrassed, and the schools weren't doing much to stop it. With another, in Philadelphia, the student with the gun was coming to the defense of another girl who was being harassed because, again, the school wasn't doing much to stop it. ...If I came to work and every day had to deal with my lunch being stolen and dumped over my head, being tripped in the hallway, getting harassing notes left on my desk, or being shoved into a closet, my company would IMMEDIATELY deal with the perpetrators -- and what's more, everyone would be up in arms over the way I was being treated and there would be a huge uproar over my being harrassed. However, with school students doing EXACTLY THE SAME THINGS to each other, somehow the lunch-dumping, harrassing notes, tripping, and the like is seen as "kids being kids" and "just part of growing up." It ISN'T -- it is ASSAULT, and should be seen as such. If the schools do NOT start seeing it as such, then kids will continue to solve matters themselves

Kim, 30
New York
, NY   USA

The cruelness of students to other students in schools, and the lack of action by schools to do anything to correct it.

Talia, 23
, CT   USA

Mentally disturbed teenagers with a lack of family/social support. I believe the fact that the media pounces on every incident of school violence like rabid dogs doesn't help the problem either. These kids have no moral framework, no spiritual guidance. They see what superstars that the media made of the Columbine Shooters and want their fifteen minutes. It is really frightening to me that these kids' parents didnt recognize that they are seriously disturbed. Scary scary stuff.

Maggie, 20

I do not condone violence nor l think it is an acceptable solution for one's problems. But the issue that is no one seems to be following up on is that every one of the shooters was a teenager that was picked on or tormented by other class mates because they were "different". JR. & High School days may be looked back upon fondly but in reality they are times of difficulty and turmoil for many young adults. Everyone wants to fit in and be accepted. To be constantly picked upon or set apart because you are different,  out side of society's "norm" is an enormous burden for anyone to carry; let alone a teenager. All this teaching about diversity and accepting people differences, seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Why is hazing and picking on other students acceptable? Many schools have adopted a zero tolerance for physical violence. Why not zero tolerance for mental assault? Teenagers need to be taught that they need not accept verbal assaults from others and those who engage in such verbal abuse will suffer consequences from their actions. I do not know if this is a solution, it seems society rewards the strong and lets the weak be trampled.

Janet, 42
E. Brunswick

Hmm... I don't know if there is such a thing... but my best bet would be that the kids that have been shooting their classmates are angry and hurt because they've been made fun of and ridiculed...

Jeremy, 13
Highlands Ranch

Parents who aren't teaching their children good morals and right from wrong;  violence on TV; access to weapons; access to the WWW; no one there for them when they need to talk or's just a sad mixture of things. However, these are things that can be remedied if enough people put forth the effort. I think we CAN change!

Tracy, 24
Ocean City

The way children and teenagers make such exclusive social circles and ostracize their peers creates the strong feelings that result in school shootings. All of the children involved in school shootings so far have been children who have been made fun of or astracized for some reason.  We need to promote tolerance of differences, inclusion, kindness, and respect for other people.

Eric, 18
Beverly Hills

I have given this question a lot of thought lately and I definitely believe that the underlying cause, which we can do nothing about, is the "me,me,me" attitude this country has. When I grew up in the 50s our attitude was "you must not do anything that might raise eyebrows because it MATTERS what people think". In the late 60s and early 70s, the attitude changed to "if it feels good, do it. It doesn't matter what people think as long as it doesn't hurt anyone." Lately, THAT has changed to "Do what you want and if people get hurt, that's their problem."

Reba, 51
, MD   USA

I think it's gotta be the evil corrupting influence of being mentally ill. . .

mothmc, 36
Los Angeles

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