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Harris and Klebold were Probably Bullied

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  1. Harris and Klebold were probably bullied - that may or may not have had a bearing on what they did. Based on the comments of the kids that responded to Katz's columns, what role might bullying play in triggering other such disasters?

Answer 1. Bullying by itself is a traumatizing experience for the one being bullied, but the aftermath of bullying can lead to many physical and psychological traumas for the victims. Some may find it difficult to live with their true self and attempt to change dramatically, whereas others may start resenting the entire community for being supportive of such exclusion and hatred. As per the comments, left by kids on Katz’s columns; it seems more likely that Harris and Klebold may have experienced a much subtle kind of bullying such as exclusion, isolation and verbal assault for being different rather than outright physical abuse. This type of bullying generates a burning resentment in the outcasts towards the popular lot. As they feel penalized for just being themselves, they stop harboring any sympathies to the popular values and recede more and more into their own private shells. Although media may blame video games, internet and alternative music for deviant or ‘anti-social behaviors in kids; this social exclusion is the hidden cause for hateful episodes in otherwise intelligent and sensitive kids who have nobody to speak with.

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  1. Katz says "The Littleton killings made their [kids all over America] lives much worse." Which kinds of kids was he talking about? We're talking about the aftermath of Columbine, not the kids in Littleton.

Answer 2. The incidence of the Littleton killings was covered graphically by the national media and set to motion a wave of hysteria and paranoia amongst parents and teachers all across the country. This in turn made the lives of kids all over America much worse than before. These kids were not the popular, conformist kinds but the usual non-conformist, geeks or nerds who were mostly social outcasts and are present in every school and every class. The blame for teen violence was passed on to video games, like Doom and internet chat rooms or violent content in movies. This, led the school authorities as well as paranoid parents to question internet and video game usage by teenagers and impose counseling on those who exhibited liking towards the aforementioned activities. While this geek class of freethinkers was already suffering at the hand of shallow peers who never included them in social activities, this sudden emergence of Geek profiling (almost akin to witch hunting, when it comes to finding out and prosecuting potential geeks), made their lives a living hell. More and more irrational rules were put in place by school managements and parents became less reliant of their children’s internet activities. Resultantly, kids who already had nowhere else to go, found themselves even more cornered and helpless by a mistrustful and unreasonable society.

  1. According to Katz's correspondents, has awareness of bullying increased, caused a crackdown on bullies?

Answer 3. As per Katz’s correspondents, increased awareness of bullying has not resulted in a crackdown on bullies or a reformation of general social behavior. In fact, it has had a negative effect on the behavior of bullies as well as the school authorities towards the general bullying victims. People have grown more suspicious towards former outcasts and have even started talking to them in a manner that would indicate that they are expected to turn violent at any moment. This has taken mental bullying and exclusion to a new level, making the victims even more helpless. To make things worse, even teachers, counselors and parents, who are supposed to listen to the problems socially ousted kids may have, are also suspecting them of clandestine violent or hateful activities. Their shift in behavior has given rise to a new class of bullies for the previously victimized instead of alleviating their situation.

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  1. We hear that kids are more violent these days. Do the statistics that Katz quotes bear this out?

Answer 4. The statistics quoted by Katz in his article clearly indicate that kids are much less violent than their counterparts from previous generations. In fact, teenage violence is at its lowest peak since the Great Depression. Despite the media blaming TV, Video games and the Net for a rise in violent behaviors in children, it can’t be ignored that most cases of high school violence are reported in suburban or rural environments with not all the offenders claiming to participate in video gaming or internet usage. Additionally, Katz also points out that the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, issued biannually, along with the Justice Department's reports indicate that violence among the young is dropping across the country, even as computing, gaming, cable TV and other media use rises. Therefore, Katz clearly establishes that teen and high school violence is actually at an all time low, despite the glaringly false scenario being projected by the media.

  1. Video games are often pointed to as a cause of school violence. Would the kids who responded to Katz agree? Why or why not?

Answer 5. Video games are more likely the scapegoats in this case where school violence by non-conforming student is being blamed on computers and video games. Even though many of these geeks who are being profiled by school managements as potential threats to the security of other “normal” children are highly adept towards participating in video gaming, it is evident that all of them don’t do so. Also where games like Doom was penalized for instilling gore-inspiring values in children; it can’t be ignored that new age games like the Ultima are in fact repackaging the violence in a less graphic and more innovative way like chess moves. The children who are participating in these video games are of sufficiently high IQs to understand that what is reward worthy in a video game, that is the violence, is not to be replicated in the real world. Also most of these freethinking outcasts who are profiled as geeks possess enough sensibilities to treat video games as a vent for pent-up frustrations instead of learning lessons of violence from them. Thus it would be prudent to say that respondents to Katz’s article would be highly unlikely to say that video games and not social exclusion or latent bullying is a cause of school violence.

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