“Mean-World Syndrome” Called School Shooting Contributor


After the Northern Illinois University shootings on Valentine’s Day, Stephanie Simon of the Los Angeles Times reviewed what has been learned about all the school violence cases since the late 1990s. Many defy explanation. “You want to look for a pattern, but the deeper you look, the less specific it gets,” said Jeffrey Sprague of the Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior at the University of Oregon. Some of it may be today’s “mean-world syndrome.” Kids see cruelty in movies and video games and on the news every time there’s a rampage in a church, a mall, a school. If they’re already a bit unbalanced, “that can become their reality,” Sprague said. “They will pick up on those cues [] And it becomes something they want to do themselves.”

“Years ago, when students were upset, they protested, they had sit-ins, they carried on with their parents, but you didn’t have this kind of rage or violence,” said Carolyn Reinach Wolf, who advises college administrators. “Why is this happening? Why is it being directed toward their peers? And how do you set up systems to address that?” Bill Bond has spent a decade teaching high-school principals how to stop students from bullying. Last week, heartbroken over five school shootings in a week, he said, “It doesn’t seem to do any good.” Only one in three children with mental disorders gets treatment, says Patrick Tolan of the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In Tolan’s youth, teachers ran duck-and-cover drills in case of nuclear attack. The threat felt real. For today’s students, the threat is not a Russian bomb. It’s a gunman in geology class. Says Simon “My search for answers had led to only one truth: It will happen again.”

Link: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-makingsense16feb16,1,4962698.story

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