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There is no Profile – “Columbine” – Dave Cullen

November 23rd, 2011 · No Comments · Crime, Mental Illness, Sociology

A pair of government how-to guides helped. The FBI and the Secret Service each published reports in the first three years, guiding faculty to identify serious threats. The central recommendations contradicted prevailing post-Columbine behavior. They said identifying outcasts as threats is not healthy. It demonizes innocent kids who are already struggling. It is also unproductive. Oddballs are not the problem. They do not fit the profile. There is no profile. All the recent school shooters shared exactly one trait: 100 percent male. (Since the study a few have been female.) Aside from personal experience, no other characteristic hit 50 percent, not even close.

“There is no accurate or useful ‘profile’ of attackers,” the Secret Service said. Attackers came from all ethnic, economic, and social classes. The bulk came from solid two-parent homes. Most had no criminal record or history of violence. The two biggest myths were that shooters were loners and that they “snapped.” A staggering 93 percent planned their attack in advance. “The path toward violence is an evolutionary one, with signposts along the way,” the FBI report said.

Cultural influences also appeared weak. Only a quarter were interested in violent movies, half that number in video games—probably below average for teen boys. Most perps shared a crucial experience: 98 percent had suffered a loss or failure they perceived as serious—anything from getting fired to blowing a test or getting dumped. Of course, everyone suffers loss and failure, but for these kids, the trauma seemed to set anger in motion. This was certainly true in Columbine: Dylan viewed his entire life as failure, and Eric’s arrest accelerated his anger.

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