Colorado school massacre indicative of nationwide problem, UA prof, students say
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Chris Logan, right, comforts Lauren Beachem yesterday, after placing flowers on one of the victim's cars in the early Tuesday shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. Both Logan and Beachem are students at the high school where two students opened fire yesterday, killing at least 13 people before committing suicide.
UA students and professors said the killings in a Littleton, Colo. high school Tuesday are an example of a growing, nationwide problem that could happen at this university.
Richard Arum, a University of Arizona assistant sociology professor, said the combination of weapons accessibility, the lack of parental supervision and the decline in schools' disciplinary systems create scenarios where students can murder other students.
"It could happen anywhere in society and happen again until we deal with these structural problems," Arum said.
Twelve high school students and a teacher were gunned down at Columbine High School Tuesday as Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, went on a killing spree before committing suicide.
Harris and Klebold entered several rooms in the high school, apparently using sawed-off shotguns and other weapons to assassinate their classmates.
Witnesses said the worst part of the bloodbath occurred when the gunmen entered the school library and allegedly targeted mainly blacks, Hispanics and athletes. A SWAT team member compared the carnage with a scene from "something from Dante's 'Inferno.'"
Jefferson County, Colo. schools will reopen today, but officials said Columbine High School will remain closed until police clean up the crime scene - a task that could take weeks.
This marks the eighth shooting incident in U.S. schools since 1997. On Friday, a student fired a shotgun in his Notus, Idaho high school hallway. No injuries were reported.
But in May, 1998, a 15-year-old student's alleged rampage left two people dead and 20 injured. The boy, Kip Kinkel of Springfield, Ore., also allegedly murdered his parents in their home.
Two days before, a Fayetteville, Tenn. high school student was killed after an alleged attack by one of his classmates in their campus parking lot.
Sociology lecturer Bill Bunis said a pattern of students killing each other appears evident in the United States.
Bunis said if the students were acting in an apparent "neo-nazi" manner, it implies that the youths were discontent with popular culture.
The availability of weapons increases the chance of a shooting if a person is feeling disconnected to society, he added.
"...They (guns) certainly raise the probability that disaffection might result in more drastic outcomes," said Bunis, adding that he would like to see more information come from Colorado law enforcement officials.
"The scary part of all this is that advances in weapon technology makes somewhat mute the proportion of the population that 'goes off the deep end,'" he added.
Contributing to the problem, Arum said, is the fact that both parents in U.S. households are working more than they did 20 to 30 years ago. Also, an increase in lawsuits brought by parents against educational institutions has hindered schools' disciplinary ability, he said.
Children have increased access to firearms in their homes, unlike in the 1960s and 1970s when parents had more time to supervise them, Arum added.
Biology junior Angie Hofhine said children must feel understood in their family setting, and the responsibility lies with parents.
"I think they need to get accepted at home before they feel accepted at school or anywhere else," she said.
Archeology junior Joel Nicholas said the students may have killed people for attention.
"Maybe they are the type of people being left out of society and wanted to gain attention by doing something like this," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.