Boys, School Shootings, & Mass Violence
What parents & educators need to know
I do not want to keep writing about school shootings.
I know the temptation to turn away — and the need to preserve/recoup your psychological equilibrium — is strong. And if you need to step away and immerse yourself in nature, music, joy, and laughter, please do so. I support you.
But I cannot in good conscience write a newsletter about boys and gloss over uncomfortable reality. As Darrell Owens recently pointed out in his newsletter:
It’s the same pattern over and over again.
1) Mass shooting at a school.
3) 16-24 year old boy.
It’s always a boy or young man. If you’re raising and educating boys, you gotta look at and understand what’s happening. And please, share what you learn with others.
A quick summary of the articles below, of what we know about the link between boys & violence:
Hurt boys often hurt others.
Those who intend to inflict violence often send up red flags.
To prevent further mass violence, we need to support ALL children and families, report (and ACT ON) red flags, and minimize the availability of weapons of mass destruction.
There’s a lot more info below. If you don’t have the mental bandwidth to absorb it now, that’s fine. Tuck it away for later.
If you do have the mental bandwidth and are itching to move toward action, these articles & insights may give you a few ideas. We’re going to need a lot of people coming at this problem from a lot of different angles to create a safer, more stable society for our children.
If you’re already taking action (or plan to), will you take a moment and let me know what you’re doing? So many people want to act, but aren’t sure how they can help. I’d love to collate your ideas and share them in a future newsletter.
Here’s to building boys!
IN THE NEWS
“To read the description of America’s latest school shooter is to recognize an all-too-familiar profile: young, male, angry. Notably disturbed, witnesses piecing together the clues — including online threats made openly, not on the dark web — only after the fact. “
“The lone wolf is no more, not since the internet. Now any disaffected young man can become, with anonymous encouragement and advice, a killing machine.”
“It’s all too easy for a boy or young man, whose frontal cortex is not mature until 25, to plug into a self-selecting group online and share gruesome fantasies, hear or issue encouragements to rape, kill or commit mass shootings”
“Online threats and perseverating over violent actions, especially by young men — these need to be treated as real.”
Adolescent males responsible in school shootings tend to feel insecure about their masculinity
“A shooter’s motive typically developed over time: a lack of acceptance among peers led to grudges against classmates and teachers. This eventually culminates in anger, depression, and violence. Underlying all of this was a boy’s reputation for not being masculine enough…”
“Shooters are leaving digital trails that hint at what’s to come long before they actually pull the trigger.”
“For law enforcement and social media companies, spotting a gun post from a potential mass shooter is like sifting through quicksand, Schweit said. That’s why she tells people not to ignore those type of posts, especially from children or young adults. Report it… to a school counselor, the police or even the FBI tip line.”
“Increasingly, young men have taken to Instagram, which boasts a thriving gun community, to drop small hints of what’s to come with photos of their own weapons just days or weeks before executing a mass killing.”
“While both boys and girls are harmed by the high social expectations of their gender, girls usually opt for violence against themselves through starvation, depression and self-harm. Boys, adhering to their learned patriarch roles taught by media, peers, family members and the Internet often opt to commit violence onto others instead.”
“Sexually frustrated, masculinity inadequate young men have always been a pipeline to fascism and violence: from the Klan to the Nazis.”
“In the old days, the sociopath young men were relegated to obscure cults and organizations in their area. Today, they have an unprecedented level of communication with every racist, fascist nutcase and right-wing lunatic online.”
“A young man bitter about a string of rejections can easily get lured into a parade of YouTube pickup artistry with basic self-improvement advice but often laced with right-wing and misogynistic content.”
Generally, “femininity encourages self-harm and self-blame while masculinity encourages blaming others and harming others. And that’s why so much violent crime is fueled almost exclusively by men.”
“Make no mistake: if you have a son, you need to teach them early on — I’m talking middle school — things about self-worth as a man, social expectations for masculinity, and transitioning into an adult.”
“Social networks could do more to push back on violent harassment toward women, but that the threats on their site are a reflection of a larger ‘boys will be boys’ cultural attitude that normalizes men’s bad behavior online and offline.”
“Some [teen girls] suspected this was just how teen boys talked on the Internet these days — a blend of rage and misogyny so predictable they could barely tell each one apart.”
“’I witnessed him harass girls and threaten them with sexual assault, like rape and kidnapping,’ said the teen. ‘It was not like a single occurrence. It was frequent.’ He and his friends reported Ramos’s account to Yubo for bullying and other infractions dozens of times. He never heard back, he said, and the account remained active.”
“His threats were often hazy or unspecific, and therefore easily dismissed as just a troll or bad joke.”
“These angry young men choose schools to inflict their carnage, because schools were places where they felt victimized, marginalized, shunned, and alienated.”
“We should, of course, limit access to guns, but no change will happen without reforming a toxic school culture that breeds resentment and anger.”
“By making schools nicer and by enlisting the support of the entire community, we would also help millions of kids who feel like they don’t belong.”
“We can limit guns, increase security, and enact any of the dozen other reforms that are being proposed right now, but we also must reduce the misery within the school walls and broaden our efforts to support kids and families.”
“Don't be swayed by calls for more metal detectors, more police, armed guards, active shooter drills that do little more than terrorize kids and staff. Read up on what the best, data-driven, peer-reviewed solutions are, and don't let misinformation go unchecked.”