I was hoping to resume this blog with a more uplifting and positive entry, but the revelations concerning Cho Seung-Hui’s life in high school have disturbed and angered me. In all to saturation coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings, there has been very little discussion of one issue, which I think is the salient point in understanding why this horrific incident occurred. In almost every one of the school shootings we have seen over the past twenty years, and many other crimes, including the Scott Dyleski murder of the wife of David Horowitz, the Columbine shootings, and numerous others, the perpetrators were bullied, abused, beaten, taunted, or otherwise humiliated and belittled.
I am not looking for an excuse for what these people do, but I see a common thread, one so strong that Cho even referred to Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris as heroes. Bullying is the most pervasive social problem in American schools today and it is one that only some administrators and teachers are willing to tackle. Too many educators either sympathize with the bullies, are afraid of the bullies, are afraid of the bullies parents, don’t consider bullying a problem, or consider the victims of bullying as deserving of it.
There is no overt evidence of Cho being bullied at university, but there is in his high school and research has shown devastating consequences for children, particularly boys, who are constantly and relentlessly under the stress and fear of bullying. Many develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and it DOES have serious long-term affects on thinking and emotions. I know this from personal experience. I was viciously and brutally bullied for several years in school. I became suicidal and, had I had access to a gun, I could easily have snapped when I was 14 or 15. Fortunately, the overt bullying ended when I changed schools, but the affects of those three hellish years have scarred my life ever since.
When jocks, the popular kids, the rich girls, whatever clique or group dominates a school to the point that it is not only acceptable practice to stomp on those who are not considered “worthy,” you have a petri dish for the next school shooting. And, instead of focusing your attention on rooting out the “weirdo” who won’t talk to anyone or who draws disturbing pictures, why not focus on the brats who create the killers?
Of course, American culture venerates the bully, the jock, the “winner.” Perhaps that is why America is the most violent of developed countries.