ColumbineNo Easy Answers
ColumbineNo Easy Answers
Q1:Facts about the Shooting
Theshooting at Columbine school goes down the history line as one of thebloodiest attacks in a learning institution in the United States. On20th April 1999, two senior students invaded the school on a shootingspree. At approximately 11:19 am, the two students, Eric Harris andDylan Klebold approached the institution dressed in trench coats andopened fire indiscriminately on the students. They then entered theschool compound and the library and opened fire on unsuspectinglearners. After about 15 minutes after entering the school, thestudents had killed 12 of their colleagues, one teacher and injuredmore than 20 others (Morton, 2015). A few minutes after 12 pm theycommitted suicide by turning the guns on themselves.
Furtherinvestigations into the matter revealed that the two had hatched theplan for one year and their intention was to cause hundreds offatalities. It was later revealed that the duo had arrived in aseparate car on the day of the shooting and had walked into theschool cafeteria with each carrying about 20 pounds of propane induffel bags. They had set the bombs to explode at exactly 11:17 am(Rico, 2015). They walked to their cars waiting for the bombs todetonate but fortunately, the plan aborted. It was then that theyopened fire on the students.
Differentcriminal and behavioral theorists came up with explanations towardsthe factors that led to the shooting. Some believed that theiractions were triggered by the urge for revenge for having bullied inschool. Another school of thought believed that their actions weredriven by their membership to the Trenchcoat Mafia that was known toincline to the Goth culture. Some behavioral analysts blamed watchingviolent movies and playing combative games as a contributing factorto their behavior (Larkin, 2013).
Accordingto Kass (2014), intense investigations by the FBI and amultidimensional team of psychologists, psychiatrists, and clinicalpsychologists found out that the massacre was driven by the mentalconditions of the two students. Evidence from their previous writingin their journals led the team to conclude that Klebold was hotheadedand suicidal while Harris was a psychopath. However, primaryinformation from the book written by Brown and Merritt indicate thatthere was a myriad of behavioral problems associated with the twostudents that were largely shaped by the environment in the school.
Q2:Problems observed in the Students and at Columbine
Thebook provides first-hand information from Eric and Dylan`sclassmates, and it describes their behavior at school and home. Ericis described as a student who had been transferred from one school toanother as his parents changed workplaces. He, therefore, became asoft target for bullies since he did not have immediate friends(Brown & Merritt 2002). Additionally, both of them becameinseparable friends owing to the fact that they were both harassedand kicked around by the senior students. The authors indicate thatthe major problem with the students was that they never came out toreport bullying. They would suppress their agony by spending timeinform of their monitors and playing games. However, such distractorsdo not offer a lasting solution, and one has to reel back to reality.At one time, Eric was almost injured by senior students on thefootball team as they hurled empty bottles at him from their cars(Brown & Merritt 2002).
Secondly,the two friends were not outspoken, and they could let their angerbuild before reacting. The narrator giving his account in the bookexplains how Dylan attacked him in the school compound after a periodof tension among them. Eric is also reported to have thrown ice ballsbreaking the windscreen of one his classmate’s cars out of anger(Brown & Merritt 2002). By failing to talk about their problems,the students risked becoming a threat to those who wronged thembecause their actions were not predictable.
AtColumbine, the teachers used non-corrective punitive measures. At onetime, Dylan and his classmates were forced to clean a coat belongingto one of their classmates using toothbrushes after accidentallysplashing it with mud (Brown & Merritt 2002). The attitudetowards the teachers would later explain why the two would nothesitate to shoot one of them. In addition, the principal is noted tohave had less concern for the bullied students.
AsBrown and Merritt (2002) note, the teachers looked away when frailboys were made to roll coins on the floor using their noses. Theywould dismiss the misconduct by terming it as a “boys’ affair.” Bullying is one of the causes of injuries in schools especially whensome students decide to retaliate. An environment that facilitatesthe victims to obtain an advantage over the aggressors triggers themto fight back, and this may have been the case with Dylan and Eric.
Iinterviewed John Scott, the local probation officer who has in theprofession for 15 years. During this period, he narrated havinghelped more than 27 junior and high school students who have passedthrough the probation system after being caught in various violentsituations in their institutions. According to him, the homeenvironment plays an imperative role in shaping the behaviors ofstudents that also extends to the school environment. The use ofabusive language or fighting at home and in the neighborhoods maytrigger learners to transfer similar behaviors in schools.
Scottalso pointed out that the availability of weapons is a primary causeof fatal injuries in schools. According to him, teenagers can defythe law that prohibits minors from possessing weapons. Children buyweapons from illegal dealers. He gave me the example of the VirginiaTech Massacre that took place in 2007. The same analogy can berelated to the shooting at Columbine. According to Brown and Merritt,Dylan and Eric procured the weapons illegally from a vendor during anexhibition.
Scottwas also categorical that anxiety and depression arising frombullying in schools triggers retaliatory attacks. This problemexacerbates when the school administration is not supportive to thelearners. Additionally, there are those who instigate violence topractice what they see in movies or when playing computer games.Scott explained that most of the times, learners underestimate theimpact of their actions in real life. However, Scott observed thatthere must be a conducive environment for such ideas to materialize.He gave the example of a bullied student who plays video games andgoes to a school that has lax rules on abusing other students. Such alearner can take the advantage to look for weapons and release hisfrustrations on other students. Various aspects of Scott’sinformation could be used to explain Eric and Dylan’s behaviorthrough getting information on the ground instead of relying onhypothetical theories.
Q4:The Way Forward
Anyattack meted against learners tends to have detrimental effectsbecause they are defenseless. If Dylan and Eric’s plans had flowedas planned, Columbine would have suffered tens of fatalities andhundreds of injuries. The intensity of such an attack should triggerall the involved stakeholders from taking preclusive measures. First,the policy barring minors from obtaining weapons should not base ageas a threshold for one to possess a gun (Warbelow, 2013). From thebook, Eric is on record yearning to attain 18 years and own a gun. Tohim, the weapon would facilitate retaliatory attacks in school andthe neighborhood. The intended purpose of the weapons purchasedshould be examined. In addition, the state government and federalagencies should tighten the regulation on the sale of illegal weapons(Twemlow & Sacco, 2012). Eric and Dylan possessed the weaponsfrom a vendor during an exhibition. Allowing children to attend suchexhibitions only increases the desire to possess the weapons and usethem irresponsibly.
Secondly,it is clear that Columbine had a history of bullying without theteachers doing much to prevent it. The abuse meted against thestudents is a recipe for violence. According to Williams (2013), aculture of abuse results in anxiety and depression that can triggerretaliation tendencies. The school administrators should provide aconducive environment for learning and institute efficient mechanismsto report abuse and bullying.
Finally,DeLisi et al. (2013) recommend a controlled internet behavior amonglearners. Dylan and Eric were video games enthusiasts and some of thetactics they used in the attack are similar to what they hadexperienced when playing the. For example, by planting bombs instrategic places to achieve maximum fatalities is observed to havebeen borrowed from Duke Nukem, a game that the two liked. Schoolcounselors and parents should guide and control the number of hoursthat students spend in games and advocate for more constructiveactivities.
Brown,B., & Merritt, R. (2002). Noeasy answers: The truth behind death at Columbine.New York N.Y.: Lantern Books.
DeLisi,M., Vaughn, M. G., Gentile, D. A., Anderson, C. A., & Shook, J.J. (2013). Violent video games, delinquency, and youth violence newevidence. YouthViolence and Juvenile Justice,11(2),132-142.
Kass,J. (2014). Columbine:A true crime story.Canada: Conundrum Press.
Larkin,R. W. (2013). Legitimated adolescent violence: Lessons fromColumbine. In SchoolShootings(pp. 159-176). New York N.Y.: Springer.
Morton,L. (2015). Where are you Coming from? Transparency and truth-claimsin Dave Cullen`s Columbine. JournalismPractice,9(2),168-183.
Rico,A. R. (2015). Fans of Columbine shooters Eric Harris and DylanKlebold. TransformativeWorks and Cultures,20.
Twemlow,S. W., & Sacco, F. C. (2012). Preventingbullying and school violence.American Arlington: Psychiatric Publishing.
Warbelow,S. (2013). LGBT Youth Legal Landscape. Temp.Pol. & Civ. Rts. L. Rev.,23,413.
Williams,L. C. (2013). Let`sprevent school violence, not just bullying and peer victimization: Acommentary on Finkelhor, Turner, and Hamby(2012).