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A New Look at School Shootings.
Kurt Amesbury, J.D.


While we know that the number of school shootings is not actually increasing (though the exercised reaction of the press might lead one to conclude otherwise) there is still the question of, "Why?" Why do these kids suddenly decide to kill their teachers and classmates?

Roy Baumeister's "Violent Pride" (in the April issue of Scientific American) sheds a bit of light on the subject. His research indicates that the psych folks have (once again) had all the wrong answers. It turns out that in the psych community everyone "knows" that low self-esteem can lead to violence. But as Baumeister explored the underpinnings of that belief, he found that there had never been any research into the subject - it was just something that everyone had always "known." In short, the driving force behind Outcome-Based Education (OBE), the sacred edict that "no child shall be left behind" and that society is best served when "everyone is a winner" - is nothing more than supposition. A guess.

The public school system that rewards students who "try" hard, by dishing out "A"s for anyone who can show up for class most of the time, may be built on a false premise. The purpose of OBE, we've been told, is to protect the children from "negative self images." This may be fine for encouraging the efforts of toddlers, but the real world is full of disappointments and a kid who can't handle a setback cannot handle life.

Which sounds a lot like the students who have been doing the shooting.

The psych wags have clucked in communal tempo at each act of senseless violence, self-assured that what "everyone knew" was what they knew too... that low self-esteem was at the root of these senseless acts of violence, that the Columbine and Santana shootings resulted from the low self-esteem of the perpetrators.

So Baumeister's research should be a shot of ice-cold water to the collective kissers of all those saged shrinks. Baumeister's research indicates that HIGH self-image is the more likely precursor to violence.

"The person with low self-esteem emerges from our investigation as someone who is not prone to aggressive responses. Instead one should beware of people who regard themselves as superior to others, especially when those beliefs are inflated, weakly grounded in reality or heavily dependent on having others confirm them frequently."

Baumeister comments that when evaluating convicted criminals as a study group,

"On narcissism... the violent prisoners had a higher mean score than any other published sample."

[As defined by psychologists, narcissism is characterized by "inflated or grandiose views of self, the quest for excessive admiration, an unreasonable or exaggerated sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, an exploitive attitude towards others, a proneness to envy or wish to be envied, frequent fantasies of greatness, and arrogance."]

So are kids killing kids because they have low self-esteem? Or are they turning violent because they've been given a hugely inflated image of themselves, helped along by a system that forbids the finding of fault? When their belief that they are the center of the universe collides with the reality that they are not - do sparks fly?

Draw your own conclusions regarding what effect government schools are having on the youth of America - each coddled, each student pampered and fussed over and receiving constant reinforcement of the idea that they are the future of the world, and the most important element therein. Turn those thoughts over.

Perhaps you will find one of the answers to the question, "Why?"

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