Why? Two of the major news weeklies emblazoned that three-letter word across their covers the week following the massacre at Columbine High. Seven weeks later, we have been overwhelmed by simplistic explanations and quick-fix remedies, many of them ignoring a dark reality: evil always manages to thwart the best human programs and philosophies.
This is not to say that "simple" can't also be right and good. We heard some helpful ideas that can at least help us minimize the incidence of such evils.
Home alone. In the days following the tragedy, David Thomas, the district attorney investigating the case, seemed reluctant to discuss the circumstances surrounding the shootings or the current state of the investigation. Instead, he said, "We are not doing a very good job of communicating with our kids." And communication requires time spent with our kids. As Harvard's Deborah Prothow-Stith puts it: "Children figure out how to get adults' attention, time, and resources. We decide how we are going to give it to them."
The case of Cassie Bernall, one of the girls killed in the shootings and now celebrated as a martyr, points up the importance of not only parental attention, but of parental intervention. Because Cassie was fascinated with witchcraft and suicide, her parents insisted she attend church and change her circle of friends. In a culture of personal autonomy, parents often feel that they are transgressing when they enter a teenager's room or insist on standards of behavior. But parents risk far more by engaging in denial or in hands-off loving. Over time, the Bernalls' intervention worked, Cassie found Christ, and her life was turned around for the good.
Natural born killers? In our August 1998 issue, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman argued ...1
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