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Are Kids Turning Your Kids Into Killers?

JonKatz posted more than 13 years ago | from the -the-other-side-of-the-story- dept.

United States 871

After Columbine, many Americans blamed the Net for the massacre. "Are videogames turning your kids into killers?" asked the cover of one newsmagazine. Last friday, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said video games contribute to an "ethic of violence." The truth is, many more kids kill themselves then others, often because of bullying, a subject about which Ashcroft had nothing to say. The question really is whether vicious kids and hostile school environments are turning kids into killers. It's a question neither politicians nor the media seem to want to ask. (Read more.)

What makes big news -- and what doesn't -- is always telling. We hear a lot about kids who get gunned down in schools by their peers. We usually hear even more about the evil influences on their lives, from gaming to violent TV and movies to the Net. Yet a vastly greater number kill themselves because of their peers. That doesn't draw many headlines or stories on the evening news, or denunciations from the President.

In the past 15 months, four students have been killed and a more than a score wounded in a series of U.S. school shootings, the most recent in Santee, California, where 15-year-old Charles Andrew Williams allegedly opened fire from a bathroom in Santana High, killing two and wounding 13.

As usual, the government has tended to blame video games and violent movies and TV shows. Aschroft said "the entertainment industry, with it's video games and the like, which sometimes literally teach shooting and all, we've got to ask ourselves, how do we as a culture ... be more responsible."

It's a good question, but not in the way Ashcroft means. Many kids, like Tempest Smith of Lincoln Park, Michigan, simply couldn't take being teased and bullied any longer

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 2,000 school-age children aged 19 or younger take their own lives each year. The rise in suicides by children ages 10 to 14 is especially alarming, say CDC officials.

Psychologists and researchers report that bullying, taunting or constant ridicule by peers is often a major factor in these suicides, as well as a constant thread running through the horrific series of school shootings.

The Detroit News recently told the story of 12-year-old Smith, who hung herself from her bunk bed in February, leaving behind diaries describing the continuous harassment she faced daily about her shyness, her clothing and religious beliefs. She wrote that these taunts made life unbearable. And hers is not an isolated case. In recent months, I've gotten e-mail from the parents and friends of an Ohio hacker who shot himself at 14 after continuous jeering about his gaming. He was suspended for writing an enraged essay criticizing the values of his school, a piece that contained threats to retaliate against kids who had been bullying him for years. I've also heard from the parents of a 15-year-old Goth in Pennsylvania who slashed her wrists and died after years of teasing from classmates. Kids who are non-conformist, rebellious, individualistic or different in other ways are routinely subjected to harassment all kinds, as well as life in schools that cling to outdated curriculums, punish non-conformity and isolate individuals.

"Everyone is against me," Tempest Smith wrote in her diary. "Will I ever have friends again? ... Will I ever live in peace?"

More than 90 percent of people who commit suicide suffer from clinical depression, according to studies by the American Association of Suicidology in Washington, D.C. "Often, it's these mental conditions that cause children to be teased in the first place," an association official told the Detroit News. Taunting also is cited as a factor in many of the cases -- including the horror at Columbine -- in which kids kill other kids. Yet 81 percent of Americans told the Gallup they blame the Internet for Columbine.

A handful of schools have instituted anti-bullying and harrassment programs, but the popular media and most politicians seem much more interested in kids who go over the edge and shoot others than in the many more who are driven over the edge and kill themselves. Maybe it's time to shift focus.

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from (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#330020)

"I'd like each and every one of you in High School to read this. Then read it again. I'd also like you to print it out and give about 1000 copies to anyone you know who is also in High School. This is to serve as fiar warning for all of you panzy-assed spoiled rotten zit-faced supposedly-intellectually-superior BMW driving, cell phone toting white kids in your designer jeans and angora sweaters who are contemplating the brilliant idea of strapping yourselves with a 9mm and shooting up some high school in your little corner of the world. Let me open your eyes a little... You think you have it tough because Buffy and Biff won't let you hang with them? Buffy and Biff don't mean dick in the grand scheme of things. If you remembered them 5 years after highschool, I would be amazed. I remember very little more than the names of about two dozen people from highschool, and those two dozen people weren't the ones who stuffed me into lockers (yes, I was one of those little dweebs who got picked on), they were the kids who let me know when the coast was clear to come out of the locker. You think, when other kids call you names, you are allowed to get mad? "Sticks and stones" ... cliche but so true. You don't like being called nerd, geek, dweeb, or fag? When you get to jail after being convicted of shooting up your school, "Bitch" will likely be your knickname and it won't be Buffy or Biff calling you that; more likely it will be some big ugly fucker who hasn't smelled a pussy since about the time you crawled out of one. You actually believe that the "cool kids" don't feel picked-on sometimes? Fuck that! Every kid has problems from the nerdiest geek to the captain of the football team. Every socio-economic status, every step on the social ladder, every teen has self-esteem issues. You show me one teen who says he is happy with who they are and I'll show you a liar. You think that being stuffed into a locker can ruin your day or even your week? Imagine having your head slammed into steel bars so that you will be unconscious and unable to scream when the brothers gang-bang you. Pretty boys on the outside are bitches behind bars. That, my friend, is a cold hard fact. You think that you can solve all of your problems by putting a bullet in someone's head? Try doing what most adolescents do instead... torture a frog, kick a dog, toilet paper a house, make some prank phone calls (those seem to make kids feel powerfull), beat the shit out of a garbage can with a baseball bat, pull the wings off of a fly... do something, vent the rage but do it without involving others. Every day we make choices that effect the path we will travel tomorrow. Why, at such a young age, would you choose the one path that guarentees unhappiness for the remainder of your life? The best revenge is living the good life. Today determines tomorrow and tomorrow is unwritten, ya dumb little bastards.

More views (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#330025)

Theres an "essay" on this topic here [] too. it stands out because its from a young guys viewpoint, and the discussions are also from high school aged people. interesting to see their view on it, and what they think should be done.

Children and Suicide and Me. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#330026)

I understand this very much, for I myself have tried to commit suicide on a few occasions. When I was a young girl back in Scotland, I was constantly harassed for being Catholic, and was attacked for being thin and reasonably clever. I think the girls that harassed me were jealous of me, whether of my looks or my brains I do not know.

However, around the age of 17 I tried to commit suicide by strangling myself with a scarf. Thankfully, my brother found me on the bed. I was blue in the face. It was around this time that I started to just not care what others think.

That is what it comes down to in the end. Young adolescents want desperately to be accepted, and yet they are at the most rejected and hurtful time of life. Everyone goes through this, nomatter if they are good looking, ugly, clever or stupid. There are no exceptions.

Since coming to america I have made frineds with a number of young people, especially amongst my Wiccan friends. I think that things here are worse for them than in Scotland; I would refuse to send a child of mine to a typical American High School. Here children are taught to confirm to societies ideals, and have the message of democracy and freedom and so on drummed into them ad nauseum. I hate the way there is an American Flag in every class. It is something like Maoist China.

Adolescents care not for these ideas. We should not pump them with the ideas of the founding fathers, for they will then turn against those ideas - it is clear they are doing this already. What we need to do is obey those ideals by not obsessively enforcing them. That is really the American way.

By bringing children up in a climate of forgiveness and learning, surrounded by ideals but not having those ideals rammed down their throat, by leading by example, we can again bring up happy contended generations, instead of tortured and cynical wretches - 'slasckers'.

We need to give the bullied non-lethal weapons (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#330027)

We need to give these bullied kids non-lethal weapons to protect themselves. I'm thinking pepper spray, rubber bullets, shotguns with monofilament wound barrels firing sandbags.

I think once a bully realizes that they may be brought down by severe, but non-lethal means, they may change their tune.

And yes, I am American.

hopefully.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#330030)

hopefully that taught you how to lead the kids you are trying to shoot.

Re:Lay the blame where it should be. (1)

elflord (9269) | more than 13 years ago | (#330075)

I lived in the US during my high school days, in a "what-church-do-you-go-to" town, and we had people paint things on our garage door, etc, because there was a rumor going around that we were all "satanists". (I mean, my mother does astrology and reads Tarot cards, so she must be a "satanist", right ?)

Salem witch trials? (1)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 13 years ago | (#330120)

Those were good christian girls, just having grandma killed for Christ.
Joan of Arc, good Christian girl, killing all them folks for god. I mean the VOICES told her to do it so it must be right.
YOUR god is not the answer to OUR problems.

Some schools do get it (1)

Dragonmaster Lou (34532) | more than 13 years ago | (#330124)

Despite John Ashcroft's stupidity, there is some light that bullying may be a contributing factor finally coming out. I remember that there was a lot of discussion on the news about how bullies were the probably cause of the Santee shootings.

Then vs. Than (1)

Phrogz (43803) | more than 13 years ago | (#330135)

Pedantic rant:
The truth is, many more kids kill themselves then others...

THAN others. THAN others.

A Systemic Problem (1)

td (46763) | more than 13 years ago | (#330137)

Politicians are preferentially drawn from the bullying classes, and so see this as a problem that won't go away -- it's how people like them naturally behave, so obviously there's nothing to be done.

This is obviously a self-reinforcing situation. As long as we allow ourselves to be led by bullies, nobody will do anything about bullying. This will go on until we *really* start taking character into account (rather than just the demagogic pot vs. kettle name-calling that goes on these days) when we choose our representatives.

Re:It Still Takes a Village (1)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 13 years ago | (#330139)

The Ten Commandments in school halls would remind us all who is really in charge here (White Christians, not God), but would lessen the alienation of our troubled youth not one whit.

That's gotta be the best quote I've heard all week. I'm gonna use that in my email .sig :)

Christianity solves nothing (1)

The Other White Meat (59114) | more than 13 years ago | (#330151)

Since when has Christianity been the solution to anything? Please name ONE instance where widespread conversion to or adherence of Christianity actual solved a societies ills?

The 1950's, which you seem to be so nostalgic for, were a time in America when you had to be White, Heterosexual, Male and Protestant to have any chance of achieving opportunity in this country. The rest of us wouldn't have a chance at equality under the regime you want to return to.

The ONLY reason why you don't see these sort of shootings in the small parochial schools is because they are small, NOT because they are parochial.

*sigh* (1)

CiaranC (69596) | more than 13 years ago | (#330160)

Are you STILL on about this Katz?

Re:Once again parents are looking for a scapegoat (1)

so.what (75302) | more than 13 years ago | (#330180)

I agree 100% with this. Parents aren't taking responsibility for raising their kids. My parents were all about raising my brother an I better than their parents raised them. Teaching us the things they wish they had been taught and had learned the hard way. I think more often than not these days kids are sent off to day care during the work day and then sit in front of the t.v. when everyone is home for the day. A lot of the shootings in schools these days could probably be prevented if parents took an active role in their child's life.

I'm not saying that video games, television, music, etc. doesn't play a role in any of this but I don't think its the main problem. I mean, hell, when i was in junior high, I remember hearing LL Cool J's song "Mama Said Knock You Out" and I didn't use it as an excuse to go beat up some other kid on the playground or on the soccer field. My parents taught me what was right and what was wrong by that point. To those parents out there, talk to your kids and ask them how they feel about certain issues, teach them that when they see someone get shot on t.v. that its wrong, and just plainly play a role in your child's everyday life.

Just my two cents...

Re:It is too easy to kill in the USA (1)

Rares Marian (83629) | more than 13 years ago | (#330187)

Europe makes up for it in civil wars haven't ypu noticed?

Suicide, depression, genetics, and drugs (1)

cworley (96911) | more than 13 years ago | (#330206)


As you say in your autobiography, you too were a victim of bullies in school, yet you didn't commit suicide. While being bullied was depressing, and you probably thought of suicide, you were never depressed enough to commit suicide.

We've come to realize that mental illness, including depression, is genetic, not environmental, and we have a large number of drugs that can help... but not for kids.

There will be a "Frontline" on PBS this month that will detail kids being given these drugs that have only been tested on adults.

I'm not sure what "Frontline" will say, but I'm sure it will be thought provoking.

My feeling is, I don't care how untested the drug is, if your kid is clinically depressed, get the drugs.

Ya know (1)

rosewood (99925) | more than 13 years ago | (#330210)

I grew up going to private schools - and it was kill or be killed. Up intill 3rd grade when I was kicked out of the first school I Went to, I was doing fine because I was in a niche. In Fact, I remember in 2nd grade a new kid came in and for the first part of the year we gave him all hell (made him cry more then once). However, a friend and I decided to let him into our lil group. I went to a public school for the finishing part of 3rd grade and then a different one for 4th grade. At both places I was able to fit in INSTANTLY and other then the fact I was bored during the day, I loved it. When I went to another private school in 5th grade, it was hell on earth. What few friends I could get would quickly turn on me, fight with me, etc. They played a game there called Bombardament. Aparently they had been playing this game for a few years and it was my first time at it. Oh yea, I also suck at catching and throwing due to my stubby hands and I through "like a girl". Anyhoo, for the first week I Got the shit knocked out of me with big rubber balls. Constantly made fun of etc. So, I did like anyone that can think on their feet would do, I directed the attention away from me onto someone else. Sure it was hell for me, but it was cutthroat. If you couldn't take the heat then school sucked. If you could take it and re-direct it or simply find someone lower on the lader then you, then you were fine. By 8th grade I had my group. Luckily my freshman year in HS, I was sick of it all and didn't care much. I still had my friends from gradeschool there, and picked up a few more. However, it was still the same cutthroat environment. Jocks would make fun of me for being fat and I would whisper into their ear that I play violent video games and know how to use guns. Shut them up. Id also resort to the 'at least I Dont have VD' comebacks too. It is all kill or be killed, and I have had some of the toughest school shit you can get. However, kids today are not tought how to fight back. They are like French kids in the 1930s. Their mom's always told them in a fight to back off. Apose to the German children who were told to take it to line. I know im going a lil off topic, but thats a big reason France was taken so quickly. This same reason is why kids today cant take it if someone calls them fat. Were they not taught sticks and stones? I got in trouble a lot for fighting but hell, I needed it. It let people know that I don't take shit. These kids either need to learn to take shit, or not. There are ways other then fighting to show you dont take shit such as ignoring them. Bullying is and will always be - teach the kids how to take it, not to cower and hide!

Re:Ya know (1)

rosewood (99925) | more than 13 years ago | (#330211)

Im glad someone learned it

Missing The Point (1)

Bob(TM) (104510) | more than 13 years ago | (#330216)

A large portion of individuals who express an opinion about this issue conveniently blame things other than themselves. The government blames the media's purvasive violence, the media blames it on the availability of guns and lack of regulation, and parents blame them both.

Problem is - there's plenty of blame to go around. If you assume that these things are different than they used to be, you'd better ask why and place blame where it belongs.

Bullies always existed - period. Like it or not, they've been around for ages and no matter how many get shot, they won't disappear. Requiring school civility may help in school - but it just changes the venue. Besides, remember back when it was socially inappropriate to be openly uncivil in school (may predate some people). Bullies and tormenting situations existed there, also.

How about guns and legislation? Sure, that stuff would help some. But do laws preventing drugs keep drugs from school age children?

Actually, the place most of the blame goes is on the parents (a group in which I belong). When we don't teach our kids how to cope, help find their way out of a repressive situation, and help them understand the worth in others, they have to find their own way - many times the wrong ones. We just sit back and watch the finger pointing while the government and the media gladly serve was our well-paid scapegoats that help us avoid our responsibility.

Re:What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. (1)

Captain Sarcastic (109765) | more than 13 years ago | (#330224)

Well, Nietchze did have a way with words, didn't he?

However, I also like to voice my little addendum: "Surviving being hit by a wrecking ball does not significantly improve your chances of surviving a second hit."

I mean, "suck it up," "deal with it," "get over it," and "it'll get better, just give it time" are all phrases that depressed teenagers lump into the category of "easy for YOU to say!" advice, and regard it as adult bulls**t. Many of them are wanting concrete solutions, and worse yet are not experienced enough to be able to say what exactly their problems are!

yoiks. (1)

Raymond Luxury Yacht (112037) | more than 13 years ago | (#330228)

First off... ASS-croft is one step to the right of Attila the Hun. I would say I'm shocked that he made it to the post he's in, then I look and see the blithering moron we have in office and remember that half the US voted for him. Willingly.

Hell... can't blame me for that... I voted for a bush [] , but I voted for the smarter one!

It's interesting... he is saying that it's TV and video games that cause these kids to lash out, not the abuse, assault, or maybe even their "good Christian peers" treating them like shit. BUT, our courts say [] that if some totally barking mad, raving loonies call for the MURDER of people, they aren't to blame, even if they give out names and addresses.

Schools & Prisons (1)

YIAAL (129110) | more than 13 years ago | (#330246)

Dr Helen Smith, a forensic psychologist, has researched the connection between the conditions that lead to prison riots and the conditions that lead to school shooting. They're similar. Her website is at

Just Taking It (1)

Enonu (129798) | more than 13 years ago | (#330247)

As a geek, high school was tough on me. I was told not to fight back, and rather notify a teacher or other authority. However, who wants to be the nark? Most likely, they would have picked on me even more after being given a 3 day vactaion away from school. So everytime I was picked on, or physically bullied, I just took it. I learned to constrain my anger, but it basically built up over the years.

After four years, and in college, I'm glad all that stress is gone. However, deep down inside, I wish I never listened about not resolving my problems physically. I swear that was the only thing those assholes understood. Fist in face == pain == don't do it again.

However, I wasn't at the the worst end of the spectrum either. I knew people who kept lists of those they hated, and those they were going to get revenge upon. Take this one step further, and you have Columbine.


Tyler Durden (136036) | more than 13 years ago | (#330257)

Hehe. "My honor student shot your kid bully."

Funny as hell. Unfortunately, there's no way you could get away with that without catching a lot of heat. Great idea your brother has, though. Wish I had some mod points for you.

deep... (1)

rizzo420 (136707) | more than 13 years ago | (#330258)

this must be one of the deepest, most interesting stories i've ready by katz. i completely agree with all his points, however, i do not think that we should forget about those that go out and kill others to pay more attention to those that kill themselves. i think they deserve equal attention. the new government that we elected, being primarily republican and overly conservative likes to blame things like tv, video games, and the internet, not realizing that these things don't have as much of an effect on people's lives as they think. people kill others because of more psychological reasons than anything else. if kids are playing games that involve a lot of violence, then their parents need to start being real parents and not allowing this. the problem with kids today is not society or the media or video games, it's the amount of parenting that takes place. parents nowadays tend not to punish their children because punishing has been deemed bad by most people. they allow their kids to go out and do whatever they please, simply saying "no" or "i don't like that." at the same time, these kids learn things that they shouldn't until they are more mature and that's where we end up with younger teenage pregnancies, younger kids pulling guns on each other, and younger kids swearing in public and at their parents. parents lately do not know how to control their own kids. i personally was brought up in a household where violence, bad language, and sex were all deemed as bad, and as i got more mature things changed. i don't think i ever swore until i was halfway through high school, and i still refuse to swear in front of my parents. it's respect that kids don't have and that parents don't show. parents are the best role models for their kids and they need to be more of that. i don't blame bullies or video games or violence on tv or even the internet for the problems kids have now. i blame the parenting they receive, or should i say, the lack of parenting they receive. this is the problem with the younger generations of kids. i am not very old myself, and i noticed a lot of changes in the people younger than me. i would tak the bus from high school and get off and see 4th and 5th graders running around jumping on each other swearing like there's no tomorrow, talking about having sex with this girl or making out with that girl. i thought girls were gross at that age, i never had any sexual desires then. their parents are what need to teach them things. another problem i've seen is htat kids nowadays seem to be physically maturing much faster than they used to. and when your hormones mature much faster than your mental maturity, you run into many problems. i've seen girls in grammar school dressed like sluts, and the reason for his is because their role models are people like britney spears and jennifer lopez who walk around wearing practically nothing. their parents need to not allow them to watch things like that. that way they won't dress like that. parents aren't teaching the morals they used to be teaching. it all just stems down to the parenting these kids receive, and until that changes, more problems will arise.

Oh BS (1)

HerrGlock (141750) | more than 13 years ago | (#330265)

The newspapers have a standing rule NOT to print false alarm fire alarms for the explicit reason that they do not want copycat kids doing the same thing. Yet they print, front page, about school shootings, even they are lower today than ever before. School shootings are on the decline for goodness sake.

Want to make the front page? Want everyone to know your name? Guess how to do it. Gee, when you don't make anything but the local paper it's not really worth it, but if you believe you're ignored, the news papers are only too happy to help you achieve noteriety by splashing your name from coast to coast.

Now if only they would print the same place, in the same type face about people using firearms as defensive tools, the crime rate would drop faster than it has since the 'shall issue' laws went into effect.

Cav Pilot's Reference Page []

When hasn't there been a school bully? (1)

HerrGlock (141750) | more than 13 years ago | (#330266)

Most of us grew up with bullys, most of us grew up picked on by someone (even if you were the bully, SOMONE picked on you.) Maybe it's time to take into account the idea that life is not handed to you on a silver platter and let kids learn what it's like to actually achieve their goals instead of requiring passing them even though they don't learn a darn thing. Maybe that will have them learn enough self esteem that they will know life is way to precious to waste and that they had better make use of everything they have.

Pandering to everything that sounds good and feels good is NOT an answer, unfortunately that seems to be the way the schools have gone to. Don't care about learning that there is failure in life, make the kid feel good about theirself even though they have done nothing to deserve it.

Maybe it's time to get the heck away from the give me attitude and make the kids earn their way again and then they will get the idea that they ARE responsible for what they get and not rewarded for breathing.

Cav Pilot's Reference Page []

I would have done something terrible... (1)

fooeyploo (150566) | more than 13 years ago | (#330287)

When I was a kid. I was always the smallest in my class and I got bullied relentlessly. I remember fantasizing constantly about exacting revenge on my tormentors. I am very glad I had no access to weapons, as I might well have used them. The worst punishment I was able to inflict was with a cast I had on my arm. I bonked one of those fuckers over the head and he ran home crying to his mother.

I am so sick of hearing the politicians blow smoke with their stupid ideas such as hanging the ten commandments in school or making students address their teachers as sir or ma'am or blaming the internet (like our wonderful idiot in chief) or blaming video games, etc.

If I really had to pin blame on something, perhaps one factor is the fact that we have an entire generation of latchkey kids and we have some situation that is loosely analagous to "Lord of the Flies." For instance, it has been demonstrated in the laboratory that juvenile rats, removed from their parents and put in cages together become much more aggressive and violent.

cause? (1)

Galapas (155864) | more than 13 years ago | (#330296)

So maybe they should have a phone number for
calling in the bullies(and other taunting types)
as apposed to turning in those who are being bullied...
Cause not symptom...


Makes Sense (1)

SomeOtherGuy (179082) | more than 13 years ago | (#330324)

Yea -- The media tends to point blame at the more "glamorous" targets (internet, video games, etc.) rather than the "boring" real issues of peer interaction, acceptance, and parental relationships.

I think this article was a little flat for the same reasons. It's just not as easy to rant about parent responsibility and bullys to a culture that wants to look through hollywood glasses.

Media a catalyst? (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 13 years ago | (#330327)

It seems the number of incidents is on the rise after the first widely publicized shooting, Columbine. I'm wondering if wide spread media coverage isn't a catalyst for others who feel they are in similar situations. The non-conformists are the targets of bullys, teased and harassed daily at school. I'm wondering if without the coverage of the media if these occurences wouldn't be less frequent. Certainly the media is not the sole cause of these incidents, I personally believe it is the bullys that are the cause, as opposed to movies and games.

Re:Bullying doesn't cause killer kids (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 13 years ago | (#330328)

I certainly don't disagree that strong family support wouldn't have prevented a lot of these, or that it has prevented others. However, I still think bullying is something that should be stopped, and if its happening at school (which it obviously does) then something needs to be done there as well.

I was bullied in my mid-teens by a couple of guys. I was not without friends, and they, as well as my parents helped me get through it. The friends at school reported it to the teachers, who in turn took action against my bullies. I probably never would have reported them, at least not then - though I'm not really sure why. In any case the end result was violence, though not guns, it was a fist fight, between me and one of the bullies, while a large group of my friends stood around to ensure the other didn't jump in.

This is not schools, this is us (1)

motek (179836) | more than 13 years ago | (#330330)

Now, this is a feature from Jon Katz that really makes sense. I have recently seen a program on CBC Newsworld about kids, that committed suicide as a consequence of years of bulling. So this is not a problem, that goes unnoticed, at least not here, in Canada.
One of the messages was that maybe extreme cases of bullying shouldn't be considered kids play anymore and should be prosecuted as what it really is: harassment and (occasionally) assault.
The whole issue is kind of scary for me, since my son has Asperger's Syndrome, thus being an oddball by definition. This makes him a perfect target for abuse. And surprise, I can watch, how it begins. How children, that don't know him start poking fun at him just because he has rather peculiar speech.
The funny part is, that children of his age (8) are quite tolerant. They see him tiresome, but not that different. These are the older ones, that notice oddities at instant and consider them as inferior.
Now, I do not think, the school system is at fault here. The school is actually rather helpful to me. This is simply the kind of animals, humans are. Herded. Plus the matter of peer pressure. At certain age it causes the most damage to the individuals indifferent to it.


What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 13 years ago | (#330332)

The problem isn't teasing, bullying etc. The Problem is weak minded, low self esteem kids who are taught (via the media and others) that everything is "hate speech".

I was one of the kids in school that never really fit in. I played chess and bridge during recess and lunch. I was a dork, and got teased and bullied around by the best. Yeah it hurt my feelings, but I also realized early on that I actually intimidated the bullies, not by muscle but by brain.

Now I am a geek and all the bullies belong to me. Who is getting the last laugh now?

Anyway, the kids have got to get over it. I did. I am better for it too.

Voices unheard amidst all the noise (1)

cOdEgUru (181536) | more than 13 years ago | (#330335)

In the last two shootings atleast (in San Diego), no one can give a reason why the kids have snapped. Everyone who knew them would swear that they are not the type to don a sniper shot gun and go after other students, and they just have no clue why they have snapped. Society for a large scale and media is responsible for this.

Kids here when growing up has a huge dilemma posed before them. They look upon stars in the sports arena and tend to be like them, without even realising whether they liked the sport in the first place or not. they are forced by their parents, peers, friends, girl friends (or girls in school) to look cool, to act like a 240 pound humantank with an iq of less than 10, which is the only way to get girls and earn respect.

And anyone who doesnt go along or tries to be different is slapped as a loner, and ultimately ends up in drugs, bad company as a form of escape. Parents should be the first to realize that they need to listen to their kids and stand up for them if they need it. School authorities could in turn reduce the impact of sports on the overall curriculum and start concentrating on other relevant areas, and encourage kids to take up other activities. Sports has recently become a stage where 1000 kids worship a dozen others around the field, whether they deserve it or not.

If United States want to bring around their young population and once again wanna make an impact as a nation at the forefront of technology, and not as nation which blindly follows every score, every tally of a 240 pound football star with an attitude, then its time to change.

Re:Suicide 50-75 years ago? (1)

WildBeast (189336) | more than 13 years ago | (#330346)

Nothing much has changed. 50-75 years ago, the few media giants had more important subjects to talk about, like WWII, Hiroschima, etc. and few people had access to all that news. Now everyone reads the news and the population grew tremendeously over the past 75 years. Of course, theorically their must to be way more people killing themselves nowadays.

I can see an element of truth here.... (1)

tomknight (190939) | more than 13 years ago | (#330350)

At school, I was subject to bullying for a period of time. I am not as a rule violent, I'm scared of it, to be quite honest, but I found myself fantasising about punishing my bullies. Of course, if I had actually tried to stand up to them, it would have either worked, or made my life hell. I certainly wasn't going to take the chance of retaliation. Of course, if I had a gun, would I have gone for it, knowing 'they' couldn't do anything about it? I sincerely hope not, but who knows.

Note that if I had a gun. Fat chance. I'm in England. It's probably a good thing, really. You have to ask yourself, how many school massacres are there in the UK compared to the US.

I'll be honest, I'm against private ownership of guns. I don't like guns. If I had access to a gun when younger, I may have been sufficiently incensed to kill someone. If I had access to a gun only a few years ago, things may have been different in another way entirely....

Just my thoughts,


Re:Guns (1)

Mordain (204988) | more than 13 years ago | (#330373)

I agree, its NOT a problem with guns. Its a problem with schools and the society that builds around them. The problem with schools is the only adults in them are the teachers/security guards who the children despise. How are our kids to grow and form into adults when they have little guidance, and form most of their opinions in groups of their peers who are no more learned in the ways of the world then they are. No wonder kids want to rebel so much when they get to college. They have had vitually no guidance and have spent the last 12 years in groups of other kids, where parents have no control over what their children hear. In past generations before the modern school system kids spend as much time working with parents and adults, and formed their ideas and guidlines similar to their peers, who were not just kids. Combine this seperation of kids from adults, with a blood thirsty media trying to get all their money through targeted advertising, and you are going to have a mess. In this light the system is flawed, despite the fact it works so well for many. Mordy

Culture and Values (1)

PineHall (206441) | more than 13 years ago | (#330393)

It seems like to me that we are reaping the fruits of the culture shift in values. Right and wrong are now relative. "What is right for me may not be right for you" is what the majority of people believe today. There is no longer any universal truths. The result of this is life is no longer valued like it use to be. You see this in other areas of the Western culture. Teenagers are just more likely to express these new values (or lack of values) in more extreme ways.

It's not the violence... (1)

Gehenna_Gehenna (207096) | more than 13 years ago | (#330396)

Violence has always played a role in the US. Even the Lone Ranger had a gun, and so did Davey Crokett, but all those kids in the 50's didn't run around themeselves or each other. The real problem is lack of parenting. Parents need to take a more proactive role in the raising oftheir children. Many, any parents today seem to be more worried about being their kid's friend rather than a father,or a role model. We need to stop putting them in front of the TV or in front of the computer and hoping that it will keep them entertained. Our kids do not need tobe entertained, they need to be tought right from wrong, and we need to pay enough attention to them to see when they need someone to turn to. Parents need to stop being lazy.
just my 2 cents

A shame you have to post anonymously (1)

Hairy_Potter (219096) | more than 13 years ago | (#330422)

though I do recognize your writing style.

I bet you received so much harassment from the teenage boys inhabiting Slashdot (as most female Slashdotter's have mentioned to me, in private) that you no longer log in.

Ironic, too, that an article about geeks being bullied has the subtext of a woman being bullied on a geek website.

Keep writing, your viewpoint is appreciated.

Using a firearm to protect yourself is (1)

Hairy_Potter (219096) | more than 13 years ago | (#330423)

conservative propaganda.

All those stories in the NRA magazines are made up.

All those statistics about crime dropping in concealed carry states like Florida are made up to.

Please, all you people aren't smart enough to own and use firearms are responsibly, leave them to the government, which knows best, jusrt like it knows best about PGP, DecSS and Apple G4s.

My extended family (about 60 strong) has owned guns, from handguns to Assault Rifles, for 80 years, with no gun related deaths or injuries, I guess statistically we're all gonna die tomorrow.

It's all fun and games... (1)

alen (225700) | more than 13 years ago | (#330433)

to bully someone. Until they fight back of course.

Re:What is to be done? (1)

drunkmonk (241978) | more than 13 years ago | (#330464)

But there have always been bullies, and there have always been guns. If anything access to guns has gone down at least a little bit in recent years due to legislation and safety measures. There has got to be something else causing this, but finding it (and doing something about it) is much harder than just blaiming the internet/video games/movies/TV etc and washing our collective hands of it.

Yes But..... (1)

ByteHog (247706) | more than 13 years ago | (#330475)

I agree that it is the other kids that start the problems most of the time. We can identify the problem all we want, but how easy is it to fix it at the starting point? When was the last time you tried to change the mind of a 10 year old?

No shit? (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | more than 13 years ago | (#330487)

You don't need a slashdot article to have realized this. It's all about the blame game. Politicians blaming things other than the real cause. Hell, i think parents should be going to jail for this, aren't the kids their responsibility until their 18?.. Guns must have nothing to do with it either. The fact that all these kids seem to be able to get guns as easily as candy bars in no way sugests that there are too many guns around this country. Noo, of course not. Teachers and other students find bullying behavior OK, yet they're all saddened why some kid who was picked on takes a gun to school and shoots a few people. Hello? Schools are like juvenille prisons sometimes. And of course the media has nothing to do with it. Everytime some kid goes to school with a gun it makes headlines and gets attention throughout the country. WTF, if these kids who are being bullied and abused in school want to cry for help, what better way to? It's just the stupidity of people who even listen to others who blame things that aren't the cause of the problem that piss me off. Yes, go and blame doom. That's the first thing i heard from the colombine incident, is that he used to play doom and quake. Hmm, i guess all that time running around with a bfg and shootin' monsters must of made him go psycho. Kattz, no one really listens to people like john ashcroft. The only ones who do are other politicians that are up in the blame game and bad parents who are out campaining instead of taking care of their children. All of the kid's who went aronud shooting, go look at who their parents are. You'll find 9/10 that are just plain bad parents. They don't watch what their kids are doing, they don't talk to their kids, all they do is come home and watch tv and forget that they even have a family. Also, there might be a correlation between levels of neurotoxins in the air and this sorta behavior, but that might be stretching it a bit far.

Re:Ya know (1)

kbeast (255013) | more than 13 years ago | (#330489)

funny you say... I was the typical geek...typed 90 words a minute in 10th grade..weighed a buck ten soaking wet....dressed in all black....ALWAYS picked on until 10th grade when I met my friends....I just turned to drugs..smoking bong hits 4th period before bio class was way cool enough for people to leave you alone...the "big" friends I had helped much too... would I kill anyone? nah, i'm not that type of person. but you know what, all those punks who used to pick on me when I was younger, when I see them on the train platform in their new, unfitted suits, I laugh at them, because I look good and been doing this shit for 6 years now when they're only starting...mommy bought them this and that...and I did it on my own...I conquered...and you can see the pathetic look in their eyes when they look at you going "holy shit"...

Phil Anselmo says it best: "Get Stoned, Get Drunk, Get Laid"

Re:What is to be done? (1)

sojiro (255286) | more than 13 years ago | (#330493)

While I agree that an authoritarian measure isn't always the best solution, I'm not sure bully is really the main problem here. Bullying isn't limited to the US--it happens just as much in Japan, China, just about any other country. Why are non-American kids not blowing away their classmates? Hmm, maybe it has to do with the fact that guns are much more strictly controlled in other countries?

Re:as if school bullying were a NEW thing (1)

steveftc (302767) | more than 13 years ago | (#330533)

I has always been a problem, we've just chose to ignore it. WAKE UP.

Re:I can see an element of truth here.... (1)

twbecker (315312) | more than 13 years ago | (#330553)

There is a HUGE difference in being against private ownership of guns and being against young people having access to them. I got a shotgun when I was 12. And I was bullied. And you know what, if I'd have retaliated with it (which never crossed my mind), I'd have been responsible. Not the gun, not the bully, certainly not the government -- me.

Kids have been (1)

twbecker (315312) | more than 13 years ago | (#330557)

. . .getting bullied for generations. Myself included. You just have to deal with it. Find friends in others who are buillied, fight back, ignore it, whatever. I also recall doing some bullying; maybe as some type of payback. I don't know. But the bottom line, as always is that you have to take responsibility for YOUR actions.

Re:Lay the blame where it should be. (1)

Calamere (318591) | more than 13 years ago | (#330574)

Children need to be taught the difference between fantasy and reality.????????

It is you who needs to be taught the difference between fantasy and reality, Christian-boy.

Peer pressure and non-conformity have almost everything to do with negative effect on young children and teenagers. Period.

Social-eco backgounds (1)

KingKire64 (321470) | more than 13 years ago | (#330592)

It seems to me alot of this has to do with social economic backgrounds. There have been very few if any shootings ing the south were there is the greatest access to guns, why maybe becuase the kids are taught how to use a gun and what it is for. And it also seem that not all the time but a mojority of of the schools where the shootings take place are upper middle class/upper class. I have noticed though my times of being in public school and having friends in private schools (Not bringing the public vs private debate up just that private school have richer kids inrolled) that the more wealthy kids tend to have a slightly skewed view of consiquences(publik school remember) For an extreme point look at OJ. If the kids believe there is a slight chance they can get away with something they will try. The superman complex is strong with these kids. I dont mean to sound like a broken reocrd but parents have alot to do with this take a college psyc class and you will understand. Bullies are in essence the cause, but I like many of fantasized of kicking thier asses or in extreme killing them but we all had the good sense to keep the ideas in our heads.

guns (1)

biggygiant (323507) | more than 13 years ago | (#330600)

What is really baffling for me, as a European (though I have lived in a lot of different countries), is how Americans don't connect the proliferation of firearms with violence and crime rates.

At worst, your average pissed off kid here in Sweden can punch someones teeth out. In the US, the same kid would borrow daddy's gun and go on a rampage!

Can you truly have a discussion about School violence without adressing the issue of firearms?

Wise up people!

Re:Once again parents are looking for a scapegoat (1)

proto-rumor (368918) | more than 13 years ago | (#330603)

the main problem is that US kids seem to have found only one way to externalize there fustration: violence

if they try others they are arrested for threating people

- bullied all his life

Is Bullying the American Way? (1)

journalistguy (398433) | more than 13 years ago | (#330604)

Bullying creates genious as will as Colombines.

US high schools are crucibles that grind students into conformity.

Students who are different are bullied mercilessly. I'd wager that most of them have at one time considered extreme violence as a way to avenge themselves. Fortunately, few have actually carried out their thoughts.

Some assimilate into the collective blandness, others find a place [] where individuality is respected.

Those who neither conform or escape often go on to greatness, achieving fame as well as the ability to sneer at the high school bully - now employed as a 7-11 cashier.

A few smart people go over the edge. The kids who killed in Colombine were certainlt intelligent. One of the most interesting/horrifying things about Colombine was listening to the football players and cheerleaders talk about how they picked on other kids because they weren't like themselves.

American high schools should not become minimum security prisons, but they shouldn't be places where child abuse (albeit by other children) is tolerated, either.

Re:The problem is the Undead: (1)

dodongo (412749) | more than 13 years ago | (#330620)

Additionally, you might want to consider taking this to class. Just the other day, we were discussing bullying in Japan, and suicides there are very common, too. I'm taking this to class next time; discussion leads to awareness, hopefully awareness leads to prevention.

Parents (1)

kronin (413035) | more than 13 years ago | (#330624)

I agree with the argument about peers, but I think the core of it all stems from lack of parental involvement in kid's lives. If the parents actually took the time to get to know their kids and love them, then they would have a pretty good idea of what their kid needs and what he/she is going through. Without a loving, moral household to grow up in, our kids are forced to seek out that love and attention through their peers, which leads to the points you raised above. I wasn't a popular kid in school, and I was teased and made fun of for some things, but when I went home I was always loved and cared for, and what I said or thought was important. That, more than anything, helped me deal with the hard time I was given in school, because I knew that they were being crass and shallow. This is just my opinion, but I'm sick of the media and anyone else that talks about "the plight of our youth" ignoring the first line of defense, the parents.

Imagination as coping strategy (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#330639)

"Heathers" seems to have gotten both of us through a bad time.

Perhaps the imagination of the filmmakers in this case actually *prevented* violence.

In my case, I took martial arts and anatomy. When I knew six ways to kill someone quickly, it became and remains much easier to be polite.

However, I remain antisocial - I own my own law firm.

Um, what about JAPAN? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#330640)

Japan produses some of the most violent video games, pornographic games too. Many of these will never see a US release for this reason. Ditto for animation. Some of the most violent and pornographic animeation in the world is made in Japan.

Yet Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

Something appears to wrong with studies that correlate video games and cartoons with behaviour.

It used to be... (2)

Ravenscall (12240) | more than 13 years ago | (#330685)

That one in these situations would just suicide quietly, Now, for whatever reason, they have decided to take quite a few people with them.

Does violence in media have anything to do with this? I don't know. All I know, is it sounds earily like what Heinlein wrote in 'Starship Troopers', in 1959.

I see a trend in this thread (2)

funkman (13736) | more than 13 years ago | (#330687)

What causes one to kill while another under the same circumstances does not? It is an outlet. For some this is parents, for others - this is friends, for others it may be a hobby. But everyone who gets picked and doesn't use violence as the solution has had an outlet to turn to. It seems the more outlets the better. Have some good friends and loving parents, your odds are better that you won't resort to violence.

Unfortunately, this doesn't explain it all. There are still the nature vs nuture tendencies out there. By nature, some personalities are more violent than others. By the way we are raised we may be more or less tolerant of others.

But the more outlets one has - the better the chance one may reach a nonviolent solution.

What's new? (2)

swerdloff (16397) | more than 13 years ago | (#330691)

The cycle of violence has turned outward from what it's been. We recognize this, we understood it all the way back to Columbine. Why, though?

The slashdot community, self proclaimed nerds, has had a wide variety of reactions to these troubles - from elder statesmen telling the younger ones "hold on, life gets better, they sell used cars and you sell your used cars to them" to "violence is never the answer" to "yeah, I remember that, I remember being stuffed in a locker and spit on and tripped and beat up after school because I told a teacher, who did nothing to protect me because I looked different than everyone else, and the football players that did it to me were untouchable in the school." We've been over this before.

The most frightening bit is not the suicides, which are tragic, but happen to everyone at all ages. It's not that the Internet is being blamed, either.

It's the freedoms that are being taken away from children in the name of protecting them. California's recently enacted shield laws, for example, allow finger pointing _at_ outsiders, the exact people who have been picked on. In fact, they encourage it by disallowing defamation suits even if the claims are demonstrably false.

The witch hunt against children has intensified. There isn't, however, a good solution to this. It's not just nerds that are being picked on, there are gays, minorities, and so forth. It has been ever thus. But the fact that the picked on are fighting back in such dramatic fashion, well, the legislators passing these new laws and the media covering them were not using a TRS-80 in class, they were busy playing football and picking on geeks. Except Ted Kennedy, who was busy doing other things. They're scared.

There is, of course, never an excuse for taking a life, but this is not a soluble problem. When someone is going to snap has to do with such a myriad number of factors that you can't pin it on the Internet, bullies or anything else.

Perhaps we need to follow Ashcroft's suggestion: ban violent video games, violent music and the rest of the violence in the media. When kids continue to kill other kids, perhaps we could then dispel the persistent myth that kids can't tell fantasy from reality.

Mind you, to _really_ eradicate violence from our kids lives, we really have to do away with the bible, too, what with all that smiting, going down into other cultures and wholly wiping them out, and so forth. But you don't see Ashcroft censoring that, it's "tradition."

Anybody proposing a viable solution to this problem would be a nobel prize winner, I assure you. Until that time, we're going to have to face the facts, outsiders will get picked on and attacked by both their peers and the government. It's sad, depressing, and has been ever thus.

Close but not quite... (2)

infodragon (38608) | more than 13 years ago | (#330708)


You are close this time, but not quite hitting the mark, the question that begs asking is "Why do kids bully other kids?" This is the big question. In my experience almost every bully has had either a broken home environment, ie divorce, or signifigant emotional and or physical abuse.

So the question should be, "Why are kids harassing (abusing) other kids?" Because they need to feel good about themselves. How do children learn to feel good? Mainly from their primary care givers, in most cases their parents, and what they have learned? Abuse.

Damn, times have changed. (2)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 13 years ago | (#330716)

I remember back in high school taking an x-acto knife in sight of the teacher, and drawing patterns in my arm senior year. I remember when we had to do the 'build a tower from straws and pins' project freshman year, and using my arm as a pin cushion. [again, in front of the teacher].

Each time, the teachers didn't blink.

For some reason, the substitute teachers seemed to have more of a problem with my actions than the full time ones did. [Something about flipping a desk over with a kid still sitting in it when I was having a bad day, and he pissed me off more]

Most of the teachers just shrug it off, as they've seen too much of it over the years. Sure, I never killed anyone over the years, but when I was picked on, I didn't tend to back down, either. If it wasn't for the satisfaction of grabbing some prick by his throat and shoving him up against a wall, I'd not have had any form of release, and might have snapped worse than I did.

Personally, I still want to kill the bitch yearbook editor who made me edit my entry twice, and then said nothing, and changed the thing to 'Don't do drugs and strive to succeed' for the 'blatant drug references' in my message. However, I know that she's going to take care of herself over the years, as shown by the kid who pushed her down the stairs a few years later. [People _do_ get what's coming to them if you're patient... and you don't have to do the time for it]

Re:Bullying doesn't cause killer kids (2)

icqqm (132707) | more than 13 years ago | (#330768)

Fascinating, really fascinating. Like I haven't heard this a billion times before.

The question, however, is HOW someone can make every parent better. Should the government send every parent to parenting school? Should we try to de-evolve to the 50's when there was a housewife whose full-time job was to raise kids, or should we just forget the issue and hope the parents solve it themselves?

What do we do?

We are 6 billion (2)

WildBeast (189336) | more than 13 years ago | (#330799)

For God's sake why make such a big deal when a few kids die from a school shooting?
The earth is already way too overpopulated as it is.
Besides 25 000 people die from polluted water every day, a lot more die because they don't have much to eat and no one says anything or tries to resolve that pollution problem.

Impotent (2)

askheaves (207302) | more than 13 years ago | (#330810)

Politicians like to blame video games and culture, because these things can be regulated and legislated. Bullies don't respond in quite the same way.

Re:Bullying doesn't cause killer kids (2)

agentZ (210674) | more than 13 years ago | (#330812)

Frighteningly, it was Keanu Reaves in some movie who said, "You need a license to drive a car. You need a license to even catch a fish. But they let anybody have a kid."

Wisdom pre-Matrix. wow...

Re:Bullying doesn't cause killer kids (2)

lupa (218669) | more than 13 years ago | (#330818)

you might very well be right, but a two parent loving family can't always exist. i had a single parent loving family. my parent was VERY dedicated to me...but resources were limited.

i was a senior when the movie "Heathers" came out. it acted out a fantasy i had had all along - blow up my whole damn school. why the whole school? because there's no torture like being ignored by all your peers - literally an *entire school* - for months. why? because there were rumors that i was gay.

my parent couldn't help me with that kind of torment. school was a requirement, and a single parent cannot home school their child. i had little choice. if i were inclined to be more physical with my anger, i *might* have killed. i consider myself lucky that i wasn't. i did flirt with thoughts of suicide instead...once again, i consider myself lucky that i didn't do it.

but i certainly thought about both options. i would have been a saint not to.

next question (2)

osorronophris (318023) | more than 13 years ago | (#330828)

Of course the next focus everyone will have is "where do the children learn to treat each other that way?" And that will, of course, be the internet.

It's easier to blame something intangible and large than it is to blame the parents who raise them that way.

Re:Bullying doesn't cause killer kids (2)

tekniklr (319275) | more than 13 years ago | (#330829)

I agree with you that probably the best solution to this problem would be if people were better parents, but I don't think that it has anything to do with whether it is a two parent family or not. Lots of families are split up not because of issues like divorce, but by tragedy. What do you suggest should happen in a case where a car accident or an illness kills one parent early on? Should the surviving parent go out and find a 'replacement' for the sole purpose of giving the kids a good home environment? I think that would end up causing more problems. I think the issue is not the family structure. It doesn't matter whether there are one, two, or three primary care givers, what race they are, what religion, etc. What matters is that they love their kids, take good cre of them, and wish the best for them. For instance, I am sure many kids are raised primarily by loving older siblings, uncles, grandparents, etc, and live in a very healthy home environment; while many others are raised by their biological parents and deal with issues like abuse. People shouldn't raise kids for the 'fun' of it. They should only raise them if they are willing to commit the rest of their lives to their children, and be less selfish about spending their time and resources on the child's happiness (within reason) and well-being.

Lay the blame where it should be. (2)

UltraBot2K1 (320256) | more than 13 years ago | (#330831)

I'm growing weary of hearing mass media and various political spokespersons blathering about videogames or violence in movies or peer pressure or whatever turning kids to violence, when the only ones to blame are the parents.

Columbine and countless other school shootings if these kids parents would take a bit of responsibility and actually be parents to their children.

Today's parents are content to ship their children off to so called "daycare centers" which are nothing more than holding pens to get rid of kids while the parents are off selfishly furthering their careers. We're treating our children like cattle while we go about climbing the corporate ladder so we can afford that shiny new Beamer. Is that really more important than the wellbeing of our nation's future.

Another thing that bothers me is the lack of traditional Christian morals that are being instilled in today's youth. You never hear about a Reverand's son or a child of a devoutly religious family shooting up a school. It seems like today's family's would rather watch WWF Smackdown than enrich themselves with the wholesome teachings of Jesus Christ.

Neither peer pressure, video games, or violent movies will have any negative affect on children if they are taught how to properly deal with such situations. Children need to be taught the difference between fantasy and reality.

THANKYOU! That's what I've been saying all along! (2)

---s3V3n--- (398159) | more than 13 years ago | (#330835)

Thanks for posting this essay. This is what I have been saying all along. All the people who are in positions to make changes or simply encourage changes do nothing and turn away from the REAL issues. To often they go for the more 'glitzy' issues then the ones that are the true issues.

No Kidding. (2)

A_Non_Moose (413034) | more than 13 years ago | (#330837)

It all comes down to basic animal psychology.

You kick a dog often enough, it will either
crumble mentally, or turn on you.

I (and I am sure other /. readers as well) have
gone through the same thing to varied degrees.
You entertain thoughts at a certain stage of
retalating, then, if the stress is bad enough...
you act. I got to the point of being 3 seconds
away from knifing a 6'4 18-year-old bully in
my high school days...but thank god the principle
was one of those that cared and put an end to that
kind of BS real quick.

We need school admins with a clue. Plain and simple.

I think quote fits here... (3)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | more than 13 years ago | (#330838)

"A child's character education should take priority over his academic education. All educational efforts are basically meaningless unless build on the solid foundation of good character" --Menachem Mendel Schneerson The Lubavitcher Rebbe

Oog say "what an editor?" (3)

smileyy (11535) | more than 13 years ago | (#330840)

The truth is, many more kids kill themselves then others ...

I applaud the kid with the ingenuity to kill others after he has killed himself.

Culture of Supernatural Violence ... (3)

trexl (16434) | more than 13 years ago | (#330841)

"The truth is, many more kids kill themselves then others, ... ".

Of course Ashcroft doesn't want to acknowledge this fact. This would bring down his entire religious belief system. Anybody who can kill others after they have killed themselves would be stepping on God's toes ... unless they were aligned with Satan, in such case the ethic of violence would make sense.

It's a common mistake, most likely a typ-o, should have been than instead of then. But it sure does conjure up a funny image of ghosts wandering through the halls with shotguns.

Re:Not so in Canada... (3)

TrevorB (57780) | more than 13 years ago | (#330848)

Drat: I finally found the link after I posted. Here's the link to CBC National's special on bullying []

The problem is the Undead: (3)

CamShaft (103126) | more than 13 years ago | (#330851)

JonKatz wrote:

The truth is, many more kids kill themselves then others

The problem is after the kids kill themselves, it is their unstopable lust for life that makes them go on killing sprees.

Re:Guns (3)

boing boing (182014) | more than 13 years ago | (#330853)

Are we all sure that this phenomenon of children going berserk is recent?

Everyone seems to assume so, but I'm not to sure...

How many small town news stories like that would have spread far enough for you to hear about them back in 1900 or even in 1950? Not many...Most people only knew about things that happened in their small towns, particularly before the widespread use of telephones.

Now information is spread instanteously; I can fidn out about the latest school shooting within an hour of it happening. In 1950, you *might* hear about it the next day, you might not ever hear about it.

To say that we know what the cause of these things are, is to reduce an extremely complex problem down to an absurd solution. It could be guns, it could be bullying, but I don't think those are the answers. John's essay indicates that many of these people (I would guess this holds for similar past crimes) are mentally disturbed/ill.

The problem seems to me to lie in the parents, teachers, and friends who might realize that their son/daughter/student/friend is having problems and doesn't step in to help. It is a failure of that person's support network. There is one obvious solution to this problem:

Pay attention to the people around you and talk to them if you think they are having problems; counsel them; help them. If you don't help them, who will?


BTW, the lameness filter sucks, repetition of a few characters can cause a filter, but the trolls seem to get by just fine.

I was wondering (3)

WildBeast (189336) | more than 13 years ago | (#330854)

How come when a kid kills people he usually gets sentenced for life in an adult prison? On the other hand if an adult kills a kid, well he usually gets nothing more than a few years in prison.
Talk about double standards.

Re:What is to be done? (3)

glebite (206150) | more than 13 years ago | (#330856)

It has to be a complete culture change - from that of a typically violent, religious-based, keeping-up-with-the-Jones' culture to one where individuality is respected. And that is not likely going to happen in the near future.

The solution to foot-in-mouth disease is to not have any foot-in-mouth disease. Read: get rid of the guns. I know that won't help the poor individuals who will take their own lives or come up with more inventive means of striking out, but it might slow things down. Seriously, what the f*ck does a person need a gun for anyway?

Drop the religious aspect of your society back to the individual's beliefs. Don't ever allow it to creep back into politics or society as a whole. I've been to engineering meetings in the USA where problems encountered in designs were met with a "prayer" session. Sheesh - why don't we just sacrifice a goat or virgin or two to Baal to help our sales team.

Keeping-up-with-the-Jones' is going to be a real tricky thing - this is the result of feedback from a capitalist society - more money tends to breed more money, and a drive to get what is perceived to be better and better things. Some people will be able to afford the "bestest" things (generally the goal of all), most people will be able to afford the "next-to-bestest/acceptable" things, and unfortunately, there are a lot of people who never will - they get left out. I don't know how to counter this one.

Perhaps as the boomers die out, we can influence our children to respect each other's individuality a bit more. Cycles like this occur to counter the previous generation - we just have to wait for the prevaiing group to die for the other extremists to take over.

Oh well, that's all I got's to say - let's see what fallout comes from this...

Re:Bullying doesn't cause killer kids (3)

agentZ (210674) | more than 13 years ago | (#330858)

Ah yes. To quote, "Tod: You know, Mrs. Buchman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car -- hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father."

Re:Lay the blame where it should be. (3)

lupa (218669) | more than 13 years ago | (#330859)

You never hear about a Reverand's son or a child of a devoutly religious family shooting up a school.

no, but you do hear about them taunting/beating up/raping their peers. (ask me how i know.)

i'll ignore the obvious 'freedom of religion' argument here and go for a little reality. while i feel that there is nothing inherently wrong with touting "traditional (insert religion here) morality" as a need for children, it really does nothing. it might keep kids from killing, but think of it this way - the most christian people in my school were the most cruel to me, and the hindi and agnostic kids were the most tolerant of me.

coincidence? maybe, maybe not. either way, if i had gone over the deep end, those traditional christian morals would not have saved me.

The plague of experts (4)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#330865)

See the Rough Draft [] column from Monday for more from the Press.

Re:The plague of experts (4)

detritus. (46421) | more than 13 years ago | (#330866)

The plague of experts reached new virulence this morning when some guy showed up on The Today Show to tell us how kids can dodge bullets in school. Kids should run when they hear gunfire, he said, but they shouldn't run in a straight line. They should zig and zag.

Funny, I learned that a long time ago after playing first person shooters.

- Slash

Of course. (4)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 13 years ago | (#330869)

Humans are social animals, if not pack animals, and will tend to derive self worth from their peer group. And between other kids who mock them, teachers who tell them that 'it's nothing to worry about,' the 'it' in this case being, of course, the child's feelings of unworthyness, and parents who often don't notice such things it can get rather lonely. Throw in the fact that the average 10-15 year old is probably somewhere in puberty process, depending on race, sex, and a few other factors, and you get some nasty hormonal imbalances influencing the kids towards behaviour that, a year or two later, they'd never dream of. Oh, and as an aside, zero-tolerance policies are a bad thing; they tend to influence kids into not 'ratting' on friends who are 'talking smack' because they'll get thrown out of school; how do the kids feel when it turns out he wasn't just 'talking smack?' Of course, how do they feel if they do get him kicked out, and it turns out to be nothing?

Guns (4)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 13 years ago | (#330871)

If you think the problem is the availability of guns, think about this. The US has had easily available guns for 200 years. In fact, guns are far more difficult to get than they've ever been. Yet, this problem of children going berserk killing people is only a relatively recent phenomenom.

If guns are the problem, why hasn't this always been a problem throughout history?

Guns are not the problem, people are. The problem is cultural. Not all modern cultural trends are bad (I don't think video games are), but quite a few are.


Re:bumper stickers (4)

jmahler (192217) | more than 13 years ago | (#330872)


first - sorry, i shouldn't have bothered with my previous post. it was kinda pointless. i WAS shocked that i got FP tho, first time ever. not even intentional.

anyways, my 2 cents- i think the whole thing about bullying is pretty simple. some kids are jerks, some are not, and the rest float in between somewhere. The jerks make life hell for the "easy targets", the defenseless who won't garner any sympathy. witness the phrase "man, look at those pants. he had it coming. snarf snarf snarf". coaches push to fight against the weak- so the jocks naturally gravitate towards the oppression of the weak.

the worst thing about all of this is that when there IS a backlash (columbine etc) the only thing that happens is blame is thrown around and the easy targets become easier. according to a friend in high school, the school shootings that have been happening actually caused an INCREASE in the violence and general crappiness in his school. the jerks in the school used his long blue hair as a target- one even tried to plant a "hit list" on him. he's been frisked numerous times by a not-at-all-attractive vice principal, more than anyone else and on very shaky grounds.

my point is... crud. i forgot. i think it had to do with the fact that being a teenager sucks. it always has, and always will. someone told me "these are the best days of your life, jeremy"... i wanted to kill myself then.

Bullying doesn't cause killer kids (5)

Llama Keeper (7984) | more than 13 years ago | (#330873)

I was a geek all through school, ostracized and bullied (Even more so since my little brother 12" shorter than me and extremely athletic could kick my @ss in a fight, good thing we are really tight).

I didn't kill anyone or go postal. WHY? Because I had good parents who recognized when something was bothering me and dragged it out of me. I say a culture where parents don't give two shits about whats going on in their lives and let their kids have free rein of their lives is what causes killer kids. This is not an issue of what the schools/teachers/media can do, but what good parenting can solve. Call me out of line or whatever, but I really think a two parent loving family, that is attentive will prevent 99.9% of these incidents from occuring! THATS ALL THERE IS TOO IT!

Re:bumper stickers (5)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 13 years ago | (#330874)

someone told me "these are the best days of your life, jeremy"... i wanted to kill myself then.

It's funny, but when I was in junior high, I remember talking to my Dad for a while about girls. Not the "this is how the plumbing works" talk, but more prosaic "why don't you ask girls out" kinda stuff.

The thing I remember most about that conversation was that he told me, "Don't believe anything anyone else says to you. These are, bar none, the hardest years of your life. It all gets easier from here." And, he was right. By the time I was a high school junior, I was more or less comfortable with my geekiness, and resolved to just have a good time being me. My senior year, the group of geeks I hung out with mysteriously turned into the most popular group of kids in the school. It was nuts. Large numbers of us still hang out together, ten years later, and we even have actual lives.

I was lucky that things got better for me, I know. But I suspect that the improvement in my circumstances stemmed from an understanding that life wasn't all wine and roses, and I didn't have to act like it was all the time.

Re:Lay the blame where it should be. (5)

meldroc (21783) | more than 13 years ago | (#330876)

Another thing that bothers me is the lack of traditional Christian morals that are being instilled in today's youth. You never hear about a Reverand's son or a child of a devoutly religious family shooting up a school. It seems like today's family's would rather watch WWF Smackdown than enrich themselves with the wholesome teachings of Jesus Christ.

As a Buddhist, I resent the "My religion is better than your religion!" mentality that you imply here. I agree that religion has a place in society, but please do not denigrate people as immoral because they do not agree with your religious beliefs.

May I remind you that the young lady Smith who commited suicide in Detroit was bullied partly because of her religious beliefs. She was a Wiccan, or at least curious about Wicca, and her tormenters were Christian Fundamentalists (though they weren't acting according to the teachings of Christianity.)

DUH! (5)

Waav (33401) | more than 13 years ago | (#330877)

As much as this a very accurate and useful point to make I think most people who read Slashdot are going to go 'duh'. I mean it's very obvious to those of us who grew up in such a life and contemplated escaping it all ourselves.

If this editorial piece were in a major newspaper or on the six o'clock news - it would be substantially more useful. This is really a case where Mr. Katz is preaching to the converted (again).

To make this piece useful I encourage everyone to print it out and mail it into your local newspapers and news stations. And perhaps the people who really need to be reading this kind of essay will get the opportunity.

Not so in Canada... (5)

TrevorB (57780) | more than 13 years ago | (#330879)

I've been amazed in Canada how bullying has taken the forefront of the local, provincial, and national news in the last year, and specifically in the last few months. After several teen suicides, a few key surveys of school age kids, and a rather well done documentary on bullying on CBC's evening news show "The National" that provoked an enormous outpouring of phone calls and emails to the station that the next night they had to do a follow up the following night, to the commercials on TV and the radio "bullying is dead serious", Canada seems to have taken the hint. Bullying => teen violence, and bullying is the root source of the problem. BC's government seems to have gone off on this weird tanget for rating video games, but that story is eclipsed here by what's now perceived to be a epedemic problem across the province and the country.

Last night on the news I saw a segment on an elementary school talking about anger management and bullying to 5 year olds. Things are starting to *happen* here. I've got more confidence that my own kids (the oldest now three) will be able to go to a school where the consequences of bullying are recognized as severe.

All I can suggest: Write your local media. Find a good set of journalists who can do a *good* job of getting down to the school level and investigate what kids are actually saying. We had one of our (two) major networks do a huge story on bullying and the whole thing started to snowball once the general public had a chance to react.

Not exactly agreeing with you... (5)

doonesbury (69634) | more than 13 years ago | (#330880)

Pointing out that whole "Its the mental condition that get kids teased in the first place" - that's bull. Kids get teased because they're there. They get teased for anything at all that makes them different; this, at least in my case, may have had depression as a contributing factor, but I never heard anyone coming up to me, saying "I'm teasing you because you're depressed."

What's more likely is that either a) the teasing leads to depression, mental or clinical (I wonder, can someone be depressed during puberty, and then the body thinks that the *standard*, thereby causing clinical depression?) or b) the depression leads to unusual habits/attitudes, leading to getting teased.

Finally, what I think few people tend to forget is that kids can't get out of these situations. They're stuck with the people at school for years, live in the same neighborhood, have a tight community that they can't get out of; and seeing ways to make the future brighter isn't exactly something people teach. Taking away their video games isn't going to fix the problem. Just may make them stop specifically *shooting* one another. The problem's still there.

It Still Takes a Village (5)

Bluesee (173416) | more than 13 years ago | (#330883)

No matter what Hillary says, that phrase is important because it points closer to what it is that allows for the evil suggestion of a student's Final Solution to enter his brain and seem like the Only Solution.

Stay with me here, I think I have part of the answer, and a damn sight bigger part than a politician would dare try to tackle.

The "village" in this instance is the environment of the kid; this includes parents, school authorities, his peers and friends, TV, video games and computer games. From this village he forms his opinion of the world and obtains a sense of 'connectedness'. 'Connectedness' in this sense represents his relationship with his village: i.e., he gets what he needs from his environment and in return he is responsible for contributing his part to the environment ('he' is generic here, okay ladies?); he feels connected to it, a part of it.

But our village is burnt out.

The parents have skewed values and pursue money at the expense of time with their children. The child is latch-key and unsupervised and unloved in a real sense.

The school environment is composed of overworked and burnt-out teachers: sure they Could care, but who Cares if they Care? So none of them connect with the troubled teen in a realistic manner. And the teen feels inadequate to approach them for help; it certainly isn't encouraged in this day and age. Teachers are Not Parents, but they play them in the classroom.

And now for the Active elements in the Boy's young life! TV actively plays teens against their parents, portraying them as the enemy and corrupt and evil. Kids buy into this because they want power and ally themselves with a 'villager' who appears to be their ally. But it isn't their ally; it is their 'wormtongue', placing messages of destruction into the child's mind. No one would argue that TV is a poor parent for a child. TV actively increases the level of anxiety in the teen's mind... I could go on and on about this, but I think we all agree its fairly evident.

Finally, and in league with the media, is the interactive world, the electronic world of messages that play into the natural tendencies of a child's aggression. He doesn't roughhouse with Dad, he doesn't play capture the flag with his friends, he isn't wrestling in the gym. No, he is sitting in front of a screen blowing the bejeezus out of a bunch of frightening images, getting a subtle (not so subtle?) rush of adrenaline (adrenaline, the drug of choice for Americans, bar none) in doing so. And, as Ashcroft correctly if misguidedly asserts, learning how to kill.

Finally, add the complete humiliation day in and day out of his peers, the final element of his village, taunting and ridiculing him freely and
without supervision. Nothing will stop this daily terror.

Oh no, add one more thing.

Give him a gun.

Therein lies the recipe for these disasters. And when you add the sensationalism and copycat solicitation provided by the media, you really shouldn't be surprised in the monsters you have created.

It takes a village, alright. A village of village idiots.

Last thing. All you single-cause zealots who use these tragedies to foster your cause are doing nothing to help. You add heat but little light to the discussion. Banning guns would help but it ain't gonna happen. The Ten Commandments in school halls would remind us all who is really in charge here (White Christians, not God), but would lessen the alienation of our troubled youth not one whit. Punishing Hollywood, punishing parents, laying blame on Any Single Thing is perpetuating a vicious spiral that gets us nowhere. So please, if you care to respond to any of this, keep that in mine when you do. It is a complicated problem and it might even be one that cannot be solved today or even ever. But we can't make headway if we fall back into old and tired arguments. Not that the NRA isn't an idiot, but that it is too thickheaded and stubborn. Not that Christians aren't the new Nazis, but that calling them names doesn't allow them to trust America enough to open a dialog. We need a brand new paradigm, just like the old paradigm that we once held sacred, albeit only for the landed gentry. Perhaps if we can extend it to All Men and Women and Children, the village can have meaning again for a nation of alienated and Disconnected youth.

(Reprinted from a Plastic article [] I wrote. I only got one karma point, but a bunch of replies. :)

bumper stickers (5)

jmahler (192217) | more than 13 years ago | (#330884)

i don't know.... my brother just made a bumper sticker as a spoof of the "my kid beat up your honor student"....

"my kid shot your bully in the head"

with a doom background. :)

What is to be done? (5)

perdida (251676) | more than 13 years ago | (#330886)

I think that policymakers focus on guns, games, etc. because they can be eliminated using traditional authoritarian police measures from schools, homes and the other places where children live. Every parent, no matter whether they abuse their child or are a moidel parent, can feel better when they remove evil games or install software to spy on kids or set up a snitch line. That is why law enforcement finds these approaches politically useful.

Cultural change against bullying must come from the kids themselves. Perhaps they need to think of themselves as a cohesive group with a common interest and goal.. in which case, resistance against the curtailment of everyone's rights would be a good option.

Once again parents are looking for a scapegoat (5)

Claric (316725) | more than 13 years ago | (#330887)

I think one of the most depressing things of these modern times is that people want someone or something to blame for everything wrong with society. I feel sick at these claim company ads on TV "Have you been in an accident ? Call us and get £££ compensation !".

It feels to me that parents want to point fingers at anything other than themselves for their children's problems. For instance, Columbine - lets blame music and the colour black. The more interest parents take in their childrens' lives, the quicker to help and slower to punish, the more trust children should be able to feel in their parents; these are all issues that should be addressed. Not "what should we ban for the sake of our children". That's why they hate South Park, it is a cleverly executed, very accurate parody of modern society.


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