Sunday, January 20, 2013

Columbine-The Book by Dave Cullen

I borrowed the book from a friend.  I was interested to read the account for myself and draw my own conclusions.  It seems that the author did a lot of research and uncovered a lot of stories,  both sides of the stories,  something the media rarely does.

In fact, a portion of the book was dedicated to what I already know,  the media tends to report on the fly, with half truths and not knowing the whole story.  And when part of the story is missing, they tend to fill in the blanks.

I don't understand why people continually fall for the hype.  I'm guilty of the same in some instances.  Human nature I suppose. 

I'm not doing a complete summary here because it would take too long, and I'm still sorting through my thoughts. 

For those of you who don't know, I spent quite a bit of time in the child mental health field as an assistant house parent, then later as a Child and Family coordinator: a case worker working with children, family and community  to attempt to help them all adapt and help the child.  Some of the children were severely abused, while some were convicted sex offenders. 

One of the goals of the book was to show that Eric and Dylan both suffered from assorted mental disorders.   It was not guns that were at at fault, they were merely a tool.  The kids were not targeting specific people groups,  they wanted to die, and they wanted to take as many "inferiors" (humans) with them as possible. 

They had propane take bombs that fizzled, they spent over a year building an elaborate plan on how they were going to end it all.  They planned to execute on the anniversary of the Oklahoma Bombing. 

The kids were sick and they didn't get help.  Their parents were "unaware" of what their children were going through and doing.  It is difficult not to judge, but there does not appear to be a connection or relationship between the parents and child.   Eric's father was domineering, and quick to punish transgression in a very militaristic style,  which seems like it offers consequences but lacks nurturing. 

Nurturing is a very important part of child development,  without it, the child/ adult craves those feelings of love and acceptance and seeks them out in ways that are sometimes unhealthy.

Dylan wanted to die, but lacked the "courage" to do it by himself,  he needed approval and got that from Eric.  Eric was a mastermind and needed a partner to help him carry out his plan.  Dylan was a perfect fit, doing just about anything that Eric asked him to do without much resistance, receiving approval.

I'm not convinced that gun control laws would have stopped this or other massacres.   The person with this type of severe mental disorder is so driven that they will find a way to accomplish their goal regardless of laws in place.  I'm not saying I am pro or anti gun control.  I am simply saying that I am not convinced that it would have helped.

The big picture problem that we are dealing with is mental health.  Why won't the media stir the public into a frenzy about that?  Probably not as exciting as assault weapons.  I also think that we are not 100% sure how to deal with the mental health issues.  Mental health is much less tangible than a gun.  It is much easier to "make something happen"  and issue a law about banning weapons than it is to funnel more funding into mental health research and treatment.....or is it? 

According to society, a mental disorder is something that is "not normal", or "shameful".  If you have a mental disorder, there is something wrong with you. 

As a kid, I was taught that my family was "normal" and that anyone who thought or acted differently, was strange, not normal or even crazy.  Continuing through life, I have come to realize that that assumption was false, and that people experience very real issues and deal with them on a daily basis.  These people are not strange or crazy,   I would say they are normal.  Mental health and its demons are a part of daily life and we are all attempting to cope with the demons of various sorts that haunt us.   Each battle is fought a little bit differently, and each battle is worth fighting.   Never give up.

As a final point,  I want to urge you to spend time with your kids.  I have a goal of listening more than talking when I am with my kid.  He has some important things to say.  He has some deep questions to ask as he develops his own world view.  I hope and pray that I can give him the nurturing that he craves and that I can give him the guidance to make sound decisions as he moves through life and battles his own demons,  ones he does not even know exist.   When he makes the good decisions, I will celebrate with him.   And when he makes poor judgement calls,  I'll be there to urge him onward.  

We can't do this alone.


Anonymous said...

I have to agree. I partially grew up in a neighboring school and had been to Columbine a few times for events and also can say that at that time in that school kids were extremely "clicky" and judgmental of others. My first high school was the same and because of it I changed schools in high school which I do not regret. The kids were not nurtured at home nor nurtured at school. It was a never-ending cycle for them. Mental illness is a huge huge factor in so many things and people still often ignore it.
We can't do this alone and we are a village and need to remember that in our lives. Our friends children need to also be nurtured by us in even the smallest of ways.
Thanks Stephen! You are a fantastic dad.

Heath Capps said...

I agree that gun control won't help prevent many of these tragedies. I think it's a "feel good" measure. People want to feel like they're doing something, and that's the most tangible thing to do. I understand the sentiment but it seems wise to look much deeper!

David Bird said...

Well said, Stephen. I agree with your synopsis and the end outcome needs to be more recognition and help for the mentally ill. Also, it is getting to be more important to raise awareness for the mentally ill as funding for such programs is regularly cut!