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Mass shootings, troubled minds

Posted Thursday, December 6, 2007, at 8:57 AM

Another alienated person, another mass shooting.

It seems like so many troubled people these days take others with them as they end their own lives in attention-grabbing exploits.

Robert A. Hawkins, Wednesday's mall shooter in Omaha, has so many similar characteristics with other mass murderers: Youth (he was 19), rejection by others, a fascination with guns.

And, definitely, much anger at society. Sometimes it seems like they tried earlier, in their own way, to reach out for help and weren't heard.

We live in a judgmental, sometimes cruel society in which too many are judged by the image they project instead of the person inside, which admittedly may not be readily apparent. More of more of those judged, and rejected, at a young age seem to reach a breaking point.

The anti-bullying programs in some schools are apparently meant to help people like these, and they may to a degree.

But it's more than bullying. Most of us probably remember those from our school years who were simply set aside because of image, personality or "who they are." And it wasn't just students doing so.

When some (definitely not all) teachers themselves are prime examples of judging students by income, social class and popularity, mixed messages are sent. A social hierarchy definitely reigns in most schools, and it seems like some bend over backwards to keep it that way. There's a big difference between awarding students for achievements and awarding them simply for popularity, which would seem to be a reward in itself without the schools proclaiming it. And when the issue of special treatment for students from upscale families aries, the problems grow worse.

And it doesn't get any better in adult years. Class distinctions continue in civic and social clubs.

I guess it's human nature for people with similiarities to band together. And most people learn to "deal with it" as they realize that 50 years later it won't really matter who was "in" or "out", popularity-wise, at a given time.

I'm in no way defending mass murderers. There are better ways to deal with problems than violence and death.

But maybe we as a society should do more to reach out to those who are obviously troubled -- and reach out with an attitude of "we're all in this together" rather than "we're going to help you from a distance while we avoid you as much as possible."

A more inclusive world could make a major -- and life-saving -- difference, for both the alienated and the innocent.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Good blog, horrible issue but good blog.

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Thu, Dec 6, 2007, at 9:49 AM

It is a beautiful thought and one I agree with, but how to get the community at large to respond is a tough question.

In grade school I tried to "get along" with bullies but the only thing that worked is when I poked them in the stomach. Amazing when you stand up to those folks. We were friends from then on. Of course now, I would be the bad boy and end up getting punished, but.....

How do we teach society or community to have some compassion and understanding when we take away religious principals and don't fill the void with something else. "You can't tell MY kid what to do!"

Peer counseling programs have had enormous impact on schools where they were utilized, but I rarely hear of them anymore. Are they out there?

I would love to get re-involved in something like that. Rules and regulations today might stifle that too much, but it is worth a try.

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Dec 6, 2007, at 9:54 AM

MY OPINION ON THE MATTER IS THAT IT ALL GOES BACK TO THE PARENTS. PARENTS HAVE GOT TO BE INVOLVED IN THEIR CHILDRENS LIVES AND PAY ATTENTION TO THEM. PARENTS SHOULD KEEP UP WITH WHAT THEIR CHILD IS DOING IN SCHOOL AND MAKE SURE THEY ARE MAKING GOOD GRADES AND THAT WILL SHOW THEM THAT YOU CARE ALSO. PARENTS SHOULD WANT BETTER FOR THEIR CHIDLREN AND STRIVE TO MAKE THAT POSSIBLE!!

-- Posted by jssg1975 on Thu, Dec 6, 2007, at 10:40 AM

"Maybe we as a society should do more to reach out to those who are obviously troubled -- and reach out with an attitude of 'we're all in this together' rather than 'we're going to help you from a distance while we avoid you as much as possible.'

A more inclusive world could make a major -- and life-saving -- difference, for both the alienated and the innocent."

Boy, oh boy, I have been working very hard on this thinking for many years...and, as difficult as it gets, at times, I will continue to do so.

Everyone is Included...dot us

Please visit my website. Perhaps, you can help prevent another terrible tragedy such as this.

www.everyoneisincluded.us

-- Posted by edrosenberg on Thu, Dec 6, 2007, at 12:28 PM

There are so many issues going on with young folks. One of them is that no matter how it is reported, stories like this are glorified in young peoples eyes. The media could condemn this guy and talk about how bad he was, but to the ones who seek attention, it is still attention.

We recently completed suicide training at my school. Would you believe that more than one million teens commit suicide every year and more than three million attempt it? The numbers are probably more than that because that is just the data collected from police offices and hospitals.

Personally, I think it has several underlying causes. One of the first and foremost is lack of basic survival needs, like good nutrition and a safe environment. You might make $100,000+ a year, but that doesn't mean your kids have good food and feel safe. I remember a friend in school who tried. She didn't feel safe and loved at home because her mom and brother fought all the time. She was always on pins and needles, scared they were going to be in a bad mood and yell at her or each other. There was always food in the house, but no one to fix a meal if it was a 'bad night'. Anxiety goes a long way to feeling bad about yourself.

Steve - If you don't have a child in the school, it's hard to get in to help because most schools are a closed campus to help with security issues. Many churches in our area participate in AWANA which is focused on young people and are usually looking for help. I know that Cornerstone helps some with child issues, but I don't know their policies on being certified.

I'd like to know more about how Bedford County is working out their new OSS program. They might be looking for volunteers to help. I'm sure there would be a screening process.

Yikes...that was little long...

-- Posted by Jacks4me on Thu, Dec 6, 2007, at 2:49 PM

This is partly due, in my humble opinion, by school consolidation. Years ago, before the era of big schools, there was something for almost every student. Today, in the mega schools, many students are disenfranchised and left to feel totally unwanted, unneeded and isolated. The lack of a feeling of community is an affliction that many adolescents just cannot cope with, although most do not go to such extremes. Have any of these perpetrators come from home school situations? I've never heard of one. Could it be that we need to return to smaller more community oriented schools where our children can have a sense of belonging?

-- Posted by dmcg on Thu, Dec 6, 2007, at 3:11 PM

http://infowars.net/articles/december200... check this out! Amazing we never heard this in the media isn't it?

-- Posted by dmcg on Fri, Dec 7, 2007, at 7:55 AM

Good article, too bad they fail to mention, all of the perps STOPPED taking the medications when all these incidents transpired.

-- Posted by Evil Monkey on Mon, Dec 10, 2007, at 6:13 PM

Evil Monkey,

Do you have documentation?

-- Posted by dmcg on Mon, Dec 10, 2007, at 7:35 PM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.