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Pointing fingers the easy way out

By Jenna Watling
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 23, 1999
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To the editor,

In light of the tragic event at Columbine High School, it is easy to point fingers. Everyone is looking for reasons why anyone (let alone two young boys) would commit such a horrendous act of violence and bloodshed.

Speculation casts blame on sociological aspects: Negligent parents, lenient schools, lax gun control and a violent media.

While all of these may have played a part in this sad event, none of them were sufficient enough to cause the tragedy in Colorado on their own. Just as in chemistry, combining seemingly benign chemicals can often lead to a violent reaction, a combination of various sociological and psychological factors created a violent explosion.

In terms of sociology, negligent parents, lenient schools, lax gun control and violence in the media may have all played a role in the Columbine shootings. However, millions teenagers are exposed to these conditions. If these were the only factors involved in school shootings, wouldn't it be expected that these events would happen much more frequently?

In terms of psychology, the tragedy may be attributed to certain mental disorders: In particular, antisocial personality disorder. Antisocial personality disorder is defined in the DSM IV as "a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others."

People with this disorder often exhibit failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior, aggressiveness, reckless disregard for the safety of others and a lack of remorse, all of which the two young killers at Columbine High School seemed to possess.

This disorder appears to have a genetic link, but is worsened in adverse environmental conditions (including the sociological factors described above).

Perhaps, a combination of antisocial personality disorder and sociological aspects in the two boys led to the tragedy at Columbine High School. This demonstrates a need for not only societal change, but greater psychological intervention and further studies of antisocial personality disorder in order to minimize these tragic events.

Jenna Watling
Psychology and sociology junior