What to Blame?

There was a school shooting at Chardon High School in Ohio yesterday. Five students were injured and two of the injured later succumbed to their injuries. Another remains in critical condition. Police have identified the alleged shooter, and of course, the media and the general public are going to attempt to psychoanalyze him in whatever ways they can.

Personally, I don’t believe that it’s right to blame video games, music, or TV for violent school shootings. There are usually a combination of issues, not just one thing, that can be considered the source of blame for why young teens who perpetrate shootings act as they do.

The alleged gunman in the Ohio school shooting, T.J. Lane, supposedly had family problems, according to a CNN article. Many teenagers who have family problems, or other kinds of similar struggles keep them bottled up inside. They fear they have nobody to talk to, nobody who would understand. My theory is that eventually all the stress of keeping everything inside becomes too much, and the person lashes out.

But family problems are not the universal source of blame for all school shootings. The two perpetrators of the Columbine High tragedy in 1999 came from stable families. Blame was placed on video games, music, movies, and TV, but I believe the real cause of the shooting had mainly to do with the boys’ mental problems, plus the bullying they received at school.

Yes, there may be a great many causes contributing to school shootings, and I’m not saying that we should totally rule out video games, music, etc. as causes… but big issues like family problems, mental health concerns, and bullying seem like they are the true causes. In order to vent, and try to help themselves with these issues, teens might turn to video games, music, etc. for therapy, but those things are probably not going to worsen their existing problems. We can speculate all we want to, create all the theories we want to, and pin the blame on whatever or whoever we want to. But we may never arrive at the total truth.

May the injured victims recover, and may the deceased rest in peace. And may there be justice.

10 thoughts on “What to Blame?

  1. As difficult as it is, I feel like the best thing to do is to encourage compassion in times like this. Perhaps if we had a culture of compassion in our schools, students would reach out to their troubled classmates instead of walling themselves off in atomistic cliques. But we’ll never know for sure.

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  2. I agree with you here. I think that family issues or simply just how you’ve been brought up are the major contributors to the actions we perform later on in life.

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      1. In some ways, my favorite thing about your post is the title. So much of the “analysis” that goes on is really finding a “who” to blame. The teenagers, the parents, the teachers, the musicians they listen to, etc.

        But it’s always complex, and, as you say, environment is only part of it. Two people can grow up in the exact same circimstances and turn out entirely different.

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  3. As a child I ran around with toy guns. My brother and I shot each other, and the neighbor kids continuously. TV was filled with violence, movies even more so. Comic books, all books, in fact, had a great deal of violence, yet most of us never went crazy and killed real people with real guns.

    When you hear that a teen shooter had a stable home life, you typically hear that from the parents, or the closest relatives. That doesn’t make it true. Kids are often better behaved when visiting other family members, and can fool them.

    I think that parental responsibility needs to be increased. If parents knew that the actions of their children would result in fines or other punishment for THEM (the parents) I think kids would have stricter rules to live by, and more parental guidance and observation.

    The problem is that having children does not make you an expert in raising them. There is no magic moment when special knowledge is delivered unto you. Parents have to make it up as they go.

    Perhaps high schools should have classes in how to raise children. Oh, wait. Despite that being tremendously practical, many people would say that a class like that would encourage teen pregnancies.

    It’s never been harder to be a teenager. But then, it has never been easy. Perhaps it is time to spend more effort in teaching kids how to live…

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    1. That’s true. Many parents have no idea how their kids really behave outside of the house and around their friends. And because they don’t know about their kids’ behavior, it’s hard for them to discipline until it’s too late… I’d almost say it’s harder to be the parent of a teenager than to be a teenager.

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