Social isolation was ignored before the Columbine massacre in 1999. The two shooters who were involved in the mass shootings were young teenagers who were described as loners as they were socially inhibited. Social isolation contributed a great deal to the mass shooting in Columbine hence it needs to be addressed. (Cotterell & Cotterell, 2007). The mass shooting was orchestrated by two teenage boys who killed thirteen people while wounding 24 others as well as taking their own lives. (Guy 2015). The issue of social isolation came up as a result of young teenagers seeking revenge for being bullied, intimidation from other students and public humiliation. Social isolation in schools is an important factor that should be handled before it leads to more catastrophic consequences. This paper will cover how social isolation leads to mass shooting. The mass shooting at Columbine has had a great impact on the change of security in schools and coming up with counselling programs with more community support. (Freedman 2003).
Most of the teenagers who experience social isolation result fall into depression, violence and suicidal thoughts which result in acts such as mass shootings. Reports have shown that there have been copycat cases of at least 14 cases whereby attacks were aiming at commemorating the original massacre by committing the same crime. (Follman 2015). Most of the teenagers who were involved in the attacks were socially isolated from the society, and these young people were bullied or frustrated with things happening in their lives. What is more alarming in the re...
ports is that 13 of the copycat cases were aiming at killing more people than the Columbine attackers did. Additionally, 10 of the attackers showed their inspiration from the Columbine attackers by terming the attackers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold as their heroes and idols. (Follman 2015). The Columbine attacks have led to more socially isolated teenagers being involved in violence as they feel the need to express themselves. After the mass shootings at Columbine, the police were in a race to stop the next mass shooting and prevent the next teenager who was depressed and wanted to be heard. (Borum, Cornell, Modzeleski & Jimerson 2010).
In an effort to contain social isolation in schools, there was pioneering local programs put in place after the Columbine massacre to identify students who may hurt others or themselves. These students are mostly loners who have low self-esteem hence they feel they have nothing to live for. For instance in September 2000, the police in Oregon were able to prevent a 16-year-old teenager, Ayala, from committing suicide. They later discovered that Ayala had planned to attack his best friend and a girl who rejected him. Rejection in Ayala’s case led him to be socially isolated from his friends and wanting to fill in the void by resolving to violence. The threat assessment team kept close tabs on Ayala who was home-schooled with frequent visits from people who gave him positive influence he was back on track. After his graduation his case was handed over to a local adult threat assessment team in 2002 so as to monitor his behaviors throug
counseling and other assessment strategies. (Follman 2015).
Other measures that have been taken to reduce social isolation in schools include increased communication between students and their teachers, zero-tolerance policies, creating increased awareness, bullying and violence prevention programs and more mental health counseling for both students and teachers. Since the Columbine attacks money has been increased in the counseling programs whereby $52 million in a fiscal year. Despite the programs being available they may not be effective without proper communication. Training teachers and students on how to relate to each other will enable them help their friends who may be going through depression or have suicidal thoughts. Similarly, teachers can identify students who are being bullied and feel rejected and try counselling them. This training includes creating awareness in school communities whereby students can feel free to come forward with information about an attack. According to Dylan’s mother, she explains how bright he was as a kid but later changed and she assumed it was an adolescence stage. She never took seriously of his distant look as he spent time alone in his room. She also advises that parents should be keen with teenagers as depression and suicidal thoughts could be building up. According to Dr. Gregory Fritz warns parents that 15-20% of high school kids think of suicide due to social isolation. Fritz warns explains that teenagers are good at hiding depression and it is important that these kids have someone they can talk to apart from their parents. (ABC News 2016)
In conclusion, social isolation in Columbine contributed to the mass shooting in Columbine. Having counselling in schools is not enough to prevent a student who is planning to commit an attack. In my opinion, making counseling a compulsory program for all students will help students not feel isolated because of what they are going through. There should be a form of trust between the student’s counselor and the students in that they have a platform where they can freely express their feelings without fear of getting judged of misunderstood. The counselors should also be well trained on how to handle crisis and how to make the students open up to him or her. Additionally, students should be made aware of the consequences of bullying and publically humiliating others in school. The Columbine massacre was a wake-up call to address the issue of social isolation before it got out of hand.
- Borum, R., D. G. Cornell, W. Modzeleski, and S. R. Jimerson. 2010. “What Can Be Done About School Shootings?: A Review of the Evidence.” Educational Researcher 39(1):27–37.
- Cotterell, J. & Cotterell, J. (2007). Social networks in youth and adolescence. London: Routledge.
Freedman, Jonathon L. 2003. “Book Review: Media Violence and Its Effects on Aggression: Assessing the Scientific Evidence.” Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne 44(2):179–80.
- Guy, Fiona. 2016. “The Columbine effect and mass school shootings.” Crime Traveller. Retrieved (http://www.crimetraveller.org/2015/10/columbine-effect/)
Markfollman. n.d. “Here’s the Terrifying New Data on How Columbine Spawned Dozens of Copycats.” Mother Jones. Retrieved (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/10/columbine-effect-mass-shootings-copycat-data).
- Markfollman. n.d. “Inside the Race to Stop the next Mass Shooter.” Mother Jones. Retrieved (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/09/mass-shootings-threat-assessment-shooter-fbi-columbine).
- News, ABC. 2016. Retrieved 2016 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY62z4NKlgE).
Stokes, Kyle. 2014. “How school security has changed since Columbine,
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