California School Shooting's

On April 20, 1999, two students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 23 before killing themselves. It was the worst of a string of mass shootings at schools that shocked the nation.

Monday, March 5, 2:00 p.m., 2001 Freshman 15-year-old Charles 'Andy' Williams smiled as he opened fire at his high school classmates, killing two youths and wounding 13 other people. Both of the dead were juveniles, and at least two of those shot were campus supervisors at Santee High School. 3 weeks later, March 23, 18-year-old Jason Hoffman armed with 12-gauge Mossberg pump shotgun and a .22 caliber pistol, started shooting just before 1 p.m., firing off at least eight shots before school resource officer Richard Agundez, an El Cajon police agent, brought him down in a gun battle. Four students -- including the alleged shooter -- and two teachers were wounded at Granite Hills High School just seven miles from Santee High School.

Why do we as a public, friends, family's, peers, not see the evolution that takes place in an individual that reaches a state of mind as to warrant such an extreme outburst. I have to think these acts are the end of a progression not the beginning of some serial behavior. For these kids to commit such acts of final declaration seems to me a failure on the part of society as well as the kids to deal with their confusion, anger, and restlessness. There had to have been some kind of sign, someone had to know their intent. I'm concerned that more children will court such atrocious thought and then invariably act upon them. What has to be going through a kids mind to want to perform such action against their fellow humankind.

We inherently know if we know nothing else that it is wrong to kill other human beings. Usually when a person decides to commit such an act they have been pushed past their last straw. Most kill out of motive for reward or revenge. But children now kill just for the sake of killing. Terrible anger has them plotting murder of individuals in random encounter. They seem to be lashing out at not any single individual but humanity in general. That kind of hatred we are not born with nor apt to, but somehow kids are learning, acquiring hate enough to shoot friends, peers, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. That kind of hate takes time to mature and we as a public must be on the look out for it before it turns into a high school shooting or worse yet an Oklahoma bombing.

Jacob, a 14-year-old classmate of Williams, said he had talked earlier about how he owned a gun, although other students hadn't seen the weapon. Williams had talked about stealing a car and going to Mexico. Another student said the Williams had been talking last week about shooting people, but assured listeners he wasn't serious. Chris Reynolds, a father of the shooter's friend, said he heard over the weekend that the teen-ager had a gun. He said, ''I do regret that I didn't do something because I should've stepped up even if it wasn't true and try to take precaution. If someone did die over there that's going to be haunting me for a long time, that's going to be with me for a long time. It just hurts because I could've maybe done something about it.''

How can we reach to comfort and converse with the population of kids who feel repressed, depressed, and angered enough with life, school, parents, peers, and authority to take up arms. What is wrong that would allow children to grow up so indifferent that they could commit such lethal acts of terrorism. I blame the television and entertainment industries lust for violence for warping the minds of our children. In truth we are all responsible for allowing it to get this bad. I do feel though that television and movies are a large part responsible for children mimicking behavior seen on shows; movies like Fight Club and primetime entertainment like the World Wrestling Federation. In our modern daily living television has become a major part of routines and for many it is the central aspect of entertaining self.

Scientists have always pointed out the impact of television on subliminal suggestion. I don't think though we fully understand the implications that television plays on the health of the culture. If we did I don't believe we would show so much of what we choose to call primetime entertainment. With so much fantasy murder and nonchalant death portrayed on television its no wonder that people, children and adults, are committing such awesome acts of violence with not the slightest remorse. We grow up with television, watch it before we even know what were watching. Mothers use it to pacify children for a duration of time so that they in turn can do other things while they are occupied. Often what seems harmless programming is riddled with acts of violence. Even cartoons funny though they may seem are largely amusingly violent. Television whether we believe so or not is largely responsible for the creation of behaviors dreams and fantasies in the lives of the resident population. We cannot change the fact that violence has become a favorite pastime of leisure America. The fact is that the depiction of violence, murder, and death in our everyday lives, saturates us to the point of acceptance and expectation.

Where once a murder in any town was the shock of years, unusual, and certainly unexpected. Now everyday we are bombarded by scenes of murder, death, and tragedy whether in the news or evening programming. I think we must reassess what kinds of film and entertainment media we choose to subliminally project into our worlds. We must take responsibility for knowing how what is shown will impact the behavior and thought processes of the people that will watch and later mimic its content. If you do not believe television is responsible for at least some of the reality of school shootings, watch Basketball Diaries with Leonardo DiCaprio. In it Leonardo dreams of going to his high school classroom decked in long flowing black trenchcoat to guise his weapons. He walks nonchalantly into his unsuspecting classroom and then brandishes his weapons killing multiple classmates. That one scene turned into Columbine.

Recently we have had a rash of killings from kids just acting out wrestling moves on each other. They do not realize that what they see performed on television by trained professionals can really inflict serious life threatening injury. It is up to us, as a community, an extended family to watch for one another and care for more than just our narrow worldviews. This is a crisis situation. We are not even hearing about most of what's going on. We hear about the worst of the worst in our particular regions. Our children are crying out for help and I can not really believe that any of them would truly enjoy lashing out in this kind of way. I have to believe that somehow things went to far and got to out of control and that someone somewhere missed out on a chance to extend a hand or at least listen enough to change what turned out to be extreme outcomes.