School shootings are isolated incidents of someone killing one or more persons with a firearm or a death resulting from a gang fight.
School massacres, are mass killing rampages by usually lone gunmen like the one in Kauhajoki.
Many people remember the tragedies at Columbine High, Virginia Tech and think that such rampages only happen in the USA. But these massacres happen in other wealthy and stable democracies too.
The statistics of school shootings and massacres are horrendous and gruesome reading. Here is a site devoted to the Timeline of school shootings and massacres all over the world.
Similarly, newspaper reports have hinted that Matti Saari, the killer of Kauhajoki copied Pekka-Eric Auvinen, the killer at Jokela a few months earlier.
Martin Bryant had been diagnosed as mentally retarded with a low IQ and serious disorders. He had told neighbours "I'll do something that will make everyone remember me".
The catalysts for the school-shootings can be traced to a number of factors. Here is a screenshot from Jessie Klein's The Bully Society, a comprehensive study describing the school-shooting situation in USA.
What Can Society Do To Stop School Shootings
The butchering at Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva religious school massacre in Israel was cut shot by one student, Yitzhak Dadon. He shot the gunman shooting with an AK-47 with his own pistol.
- In the Concordia University massacre it was a dismissed assistant professor.
- Some American school massacre gunmen lived with both parents in "an ideal, All-American family."
- Others came from broken homes, or lived in foster homes. Significantly, a few were loners, but most had close friends.
- Some of them had been teased at school but most of them had not.
- The killer at École Polytechnique in Montreal, Canada separated his victims and killed only women (fourteen of them).
Gun controls were intensified in Scotland after Dunblane. but Guns haven’t been banned in USA after repeated school massacres and neither in Yemen after the Sanaa massacre in 1997. The Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, an extremely powerful weapon, often called a civilian version of the US Army M-16 assault rifle, was outlawed in 1994. But in 2004, US Congress gave in to the political clout of the gun-rights lobby and did not renew the ban. So a potent weapon of mass-destruction remains freely available for school shooters in USA.
Can we blame a society for becoming too performance oriented, too materialistic so that human values take the back seat?
Can we say that the people in a certain country are too busy and have become cold?
- Can more of the 'system' reach out and touch the lost ones?
- Can a professional shrink reach lonely children if the parents are too busy chasing results in their jobs?
- Does it help if doctors prescribe stimulants for depressed people with no reason to live and let live?
Could the inner recesses of a potential killer become devoid of human warmth, dignity and respect so that the only way to escape that persistent laceration of self-hatred is to feel oneself superior by using weapons?
Helsingin Sanomat, the leading newspaper in Finland put the killer's picture on the front page in place of the usual ads. In 25 years the only other time news replaced ads was the 9/11 terrorist attacks. If you murder 10 innocent people, the leading paper of the land recognizes you as a major celebrity. This is media-sponsored pandering to egoism at its worst.
Should richer countries seriously start to measure success and prosperity by Gross National Happiness like in Bhutan? The Fourth International Conference on Gross National Happiness will be held 24-26 November 2008 in Thimphu, Bhutan.
Further reading: Klein, Jessie, (2012) The Bully Society: school shootings and the crisis of bullying in America’s schools, New York, NY: NYU Press, http//:www.nyu-press.org/bullysociety/dataonschoolshootings.pdf.