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The Driving Force Behind School Shootings

Before we prevent another school shooting incident, let us look on why they do such a sinister act of shooting at schools / Photo by: Mike Focus via Shutterstock

 

“Imagine that you’re standing in your old school and that your trench coat conceals all your tools for righteousness, and then you throw your first Molotov cocktail, the first bomb. You are sending the most hated place in the world to Hell!” Sebastian Bosse pens in his diary two months prior to realizing his violent fantasy.  

Alvaro Castillo, Sebastian Bosse, and Seung-Ho Cho have one thing in common: they all started mass school shootings. Frank Robertz, a criminologist and director of the Institute for Violence Prevention, says that more school shootings have been perpetrated by men than women. Currently, the total number of school shootings reported around the world is 101.

In the event that a school shooting is shown in a news coverage, where teachers, students, and other school staff become victims, most people would wonder what motivates them to randomly shoot these innocents. Mass killing results in mass death. School, which was supposedly a place where children could learn and find security, has transformed into a place with unpredictable threats.

In order to prevent more mass school shootings from happening, it is vital to understand what or at least have a glimpse of what happens in the mind of one who instigates mass shootings.

 

Why Do They Shoot?

According to Psychology Today, most school shooters are driven by their desire for fame, their perceived rejection, and a sense of justice.

Fame

Often, being famous is what drives human behavior, especially the bad kind. Since bad actors do not adhere to the idea that there is such a thing called bad press, there is only vaguely a distinction between being famous and infamous. It is rather unfortunate that some bad actors turn out to be individuals who are able to start mass shooting in the name of being famous.

Some people, instead of being appalled by the tragedy of school shootings, such as the one that happened in Columbine High School back in 1999, become inspired by it. This is partially because perpetrators tend to gain media coverage. The name of a school shooter gets publicized by the press and may soon turn into a household name.

Usually, those who commit mass shootings to be famous are younger and are more inclined to shoot more people.

Revenge as an act of justice

Authors of the study Paranoid Thinking in Mass Shooters observed that in previous studies, mass shooters are portrayed as either people who react furiously to being mocked or bullied or as psychopaths. After analyzing diaries and websites of mass shooters, it was revealed that they had an extremely negative view of how others had treated them.

It was also exposed that they were preoccupied with how they were rejected by some individuals whom they consider to be part of an in-group, which they also view as undeserving of their success. This causes them to want to exact revenge on the people who have done them wrong. The researchers found that the qualities that make their views worse, as well as their obsession, conformed more with paranoia than psychopathy. School shooters who lived were also found to be affected by paranoid schizophrenia.

One of the reasons why a man drives to school shootings is due to his revenge against the school or one of its personnel or students / Photo by: Nikitaat Ermakov via Shutterstock

 

The Making of a School Shooter

According to the Scientific American, these are the indicators that a person is planning to instigate a school shooting:

It all starts with a dream

It is noted that fantasies inspire people to engage in more productive activities. However, there is a dark side to this. Most people may have imagined themselves doing something vengeful. This is especially likely to happen after going through a difficult situation. David Buss, a psychologist at the University of Texas says that this is part of psychological hygiene. In thinking these vengeful thoughts, it may help release tension.

For those with a healthy mind, this may be helpful but for those who have troubled minds, this may put them at risk. One of the signs that someone has an unhealthy mind is that they do not have enough social connections and are overly introverted. Teens who have witnessed violence or experienced it firsthand are also prone to having violent imaginings.

The attention that school shooters garner from the press may inspire those who dream of being famous. This is due to them equating such publicity as esteem.

Aside from reasons, there are many factors why a person becomes one including gaining respect / Photo by: Africa Studio via Shutterstock

 

Expanding the fantasy

These daydreams and fantasies may begin to occupy more of their mind and eventually become an obsession. Since these fantasies have started to rule their thoughts, it is almost as if it is begging to be acted out. Their thoughts will be filled with how and where they will rampage, seeking inspiration from the internet, games, and movies. In becoming even more obsessed with the idea of killing, they may start ignoring their social connections. Right now, being able to strategize the school shooting becomes their priority.  

Twisted thoughts

These fantasies eventually become justified with a twisted sense of justice. It is called “righteous slaughter” by Jack Katz, a sociologist and violence researcher from the University of California. They may feel that they are higher than society and would not be restricted by it or its laws. They have the perception that they are god-like and may try to show how “omnipotent” they are by showing others that they are able to control life and death.

Asking for help

At first, they try to keep these dreams secret because they are afraid that others would shun them. However, the more that they dwell on these ideas, the more that feel that they must express them. For example, they may post on an online forum about their school shooting plan. In that post, they may also be asking for help and advice about their strong negative feelings.  

Trying to Gain Respect

Lastly, they may believe that they do not have a purpose in society. They may feel that no one actually respects them.
 

Countermeasures to Prevent School Shootings

For the school to be safe, school officials and students alike must take some measures to prevent school shootings from occurring.

Teachers may do this by making students attend seminars that may help them find out what their special skills are and what interests them, as well as how they may utilize this to gain the respect of others. They are also advised to serve as role models and adults the teens can open up to.

The youth are advised to strengthen their bonds with friends, teachers, and other adults. In doing so, they will be protected from having murderous thoughts. Teens are also encouraged to participate in social training, so that they can learn social skills such as empathy and be educated on how to end conflicts in peaceful ways.

School officials may also consider having a resource officer in the school. Press-Republican defines a resource officer as “a law enforcement officer who protects and serves on campus.” In relation to this, they are advised to make these resource officers wear body cameras. Additionally, they may also think about acquiring an active shooter insurance.

As for the media, it is advised that they make it hard to recognize the school shooter. They are told to concentrate less on who started the crime and the documenting of the events as they happen. Instead, they are urged to focus more on the impact of the school shooting.

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