Today's posting marks the end of my current focus on the tragic school shooting in Jonesboro, Arkansas, back in 1998 - an act of mass homicide in which an eleven-year-old shooter and his thirteen-year-old friend opened fire on a group of their fellow students and teachers - a pre-planned and well thought out assault that left four children and one teacher dead. Nearly a dozen others were wounded, and the entire school, community, and nation were left in a state of shock and disbelief.
I collected various materials in the weeks following the deadly assault, articles dealing with the criminal and psychological aspects of the case, as well as examination of the shooters, their families, the laws governing juvenile crime, and public attitudes on the deadly incident. That collection of materials became the focus of a project for a graduate social work class in which I was participating at the University of Missouri - Columbia.
The following is a paper that I did as a part of that project. It was based on what I learned while studying the issue, but is not long and was not meant to be a full-fledged "research" paper. It was intended as an overview and something geared toward a general readership - and not necessarily a university professor. The title of the paper, which focuses on nature versus nurture in relation to the molding of child criminals, is based on two movies which were popular at the time. There is also one line couched in the paper that is a steal from a bit of dialogue in a Tom Cruise movie that was popular at the time. The closing line, a quote from Pogo, has been used by me in several written pieces to the point where it feels a bit trite - but the line fits.
Unfortunately, Jonesboro shook America, but did not shake it awake. The years that followed witnessed other shootings of young people by young people. Names like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook went on to become synonymous for a sickness in our society that only seems to be growing more deadly as it ages. The current despicable effort by the National Rifle Association to groom children for violence through gun-infused classic fairy tales can only serve to make the situation even deadlier. That organization remains a national disgrace.
Here is one more out of the dustbin of my scholastic history.