Ten Years Later: Three Academic Perspectives on the Columbine Massacre
A decade after teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students, one teacher, and wounded 23 at their high school in Colorado, academic writers in different fields still debate the source of their rage. Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters by Langman is a new book offering a psychological evaluation of the incident, which argues that sociocultural factors have been overemphasized. He writes that certain children are predisposed to violence through schizophrenia or psychopathic personality disorders. It is largely a response to an anthropological work by Newman, et al, called Rampage: The Social Roots Of School Shootings, which argues that oversimplifications about violent television and video games are not good explanations for such actions. The only way to prevent shootings is to pay close attention to the school environment – bullying, threats, and the socially isolated.
A more sociological perspective can be found in Comprehending Columbine by Larkin. He argues that structural factors, such as the normalization of extreme bullying by athletic elites and a general state of hegemonic religious intolerance that ostracized all outsiders, combined to make Harris and Klebold try to seek revenge. Interestingly, the book exposes as an outright lie that the shooters targeted victims based on their religious beliefs, and that this claim only obscured the deeper meanings of extreme school violence in our society.
Review of Comprehending Columbine by Ralph W. Larkin