Jonah Goldberg over at The Dispatch has a lot of my ideas, stated more clearly and elegantly, about school shootings.
Anyway, in that NPR segment Cory Turner says that experts say that we should make schools “softer”—i.e., more welcoming and nurturing—not “harder” as in more secure. I think there’s a bit of a category error here. Making schools more nurturing and supportive is not in conflict with making them physically safer. I don’t know this, but I am pretty confident that there are some schools that are incredibly well-designed and heavily guarded that are also quite nurturing. If you see a family home with a state-of-the-art security system there’s no reason to assume it’s less loving and nurturing inside. My friend Charlie Cooke is armed to the teeth; he is also as far as I can tell a wonderful and nurturing dad.
Regardless, I just don’t believe that schools have become less tolerant since Columbine. I don’t think bullying has increased. If anything, I think the opposite is true. “Antibullyism,” Izzy Kalman writes at Psychology Today, “unofficially launched in response to the Columbine massacre of 1999, has become the most popular social movement in history.” Even you think—as I do—that that’s probably an overstatement, the point remains. Over the last two decades schools have leapt into the anti-bullying cause. I am sure there is less bullying in my high school today than there was when I attended.
And I am older than Jonah and know there was far more bullying at my school when I was there. Mill city 1960s. We didn't define such things as an assault then, so if you asked men my age thirty years ago if they were the victim of an assault when they were young, most would have scoffed and said no. For openers,if you fought back and won or at least came to stalemate, you didn't think you had been assaulted. Even then, you might still just think of "assault" as something that needed an adult, or at least later teen initiator to qualify. If you asked men now, now that we have been taught to notice the physical reality, there would be a lot of hesitation and uncertain looks before answering. By the simplest definition, nearly all boys were assaulted. It was just part of reality. Lot's of 'em thought the whole thing was fun to boot, like an informal sport of who could "take" who.
Very few of us became mass shooters, except of frogs. The kids who came closest to such actions - the kids who ended up at youth detention and eventually prison, were generally the bullies, not the bullied. Though that does remind me about the reality of their psychology. Bullies do not have low self-esteem, they have unreasonably high self-esteem, overestimating their class rank and the number of friends they have. It is when the world refuses to reinforce their narcissism that they lash out. So in the discussion of mass shooters who were bullied, I wonder how many would have been described as the ooposite by their peers.
Probably not. That's likely only for regular level violence that makes only local news. The mass shooters do seem to have universally noted to be weird, not just mean.