In the recent years, neglect has played an important role in the escalation of teen violence. Neglect has caused many teenagers to commit murders, or even go on murder sprees that sometimes result in suicide. Neglected teenagers commit crimes, like school shootings, to receive attention from the media and American citizens. The lack of attention, the teenagers receive, permits them to watch violent movies, listen to violent music, play violent video games, and research violent topics on the Internet.
The media contains some extreme violence; however, society would not have to worry about how much violence the media contains, if parents would take time to watch the programs their child watches, and explain to the child that the actions can not be real or possible. To students with low self-esteems, violence may appear to be the only way to take care of problems and to receive attention ( Media 1). The media contains more violence now than ever. Some television programs, movies, the Internet, music, and video games contain too much violence ( Media 1). Teenagers may learn to turn their anger into violent actions by watching music videos, like Marilyn Manson s, that posses a violent context ( Media 1). Children sometimes look to the media for ideas, to use in committing crimes, such as The Basketball Diaries . In the movie Leonarado DiCapario strolls into a classroom, and shoots his classmates and teacher ( Media 1). Children also watch the program WWF wrestling, which has extreme violence. The program contains seens in which the wrestlers proform sacrifices, drink beer, curse, rip each others clothes off or even strip, hit each other with chairs, and shoot each other with fire balls . Children see these actions and how nothing ever happens to the wrestlers and believe they can preform these stunts too. These programs teach children that violence does not hurt anyone. Neglected children do not get the proper amount of attention they need, so they turn to entertainment stars for role models like Marilyn Manson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and the WWF wrestlers.
Numerous copycat incidents have occurred nation-wide since the Columbine shooting. Many troubled teenagers use the copycat syndrome to obtain attention through the media (Drummond 1). Elissa Benedek, a professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Michigan, says, there are lots of unhappy ones who want their moment in the sun, and this is one way to do it. (qtd. in Drummond 1) Copycat criminals are often lured by the sheer thrill of making headlines. It is a power trip for the powerless, those who feel they have nothing to lose. (Cohen 2) The teenagers feel they have nothing to lose, because of, the lack of attention they receive. Making the headlines thrill teenagers, because they will finally be recognized. You need a cat to do the copying, says William Pollack, a Harvard psychologist. It starts with kids who are already somewhere close to the edge . (qtd. in Cohen 1) Sometimes copycats, only, look for ways to successfully commit a crime (Cohen 1).
Authorities arrested several kids for, theoretically, planning to bomb their schools, threatening to murder their antagonist, or sneaking guns on school campuses (Drummond 1). In one copycat incident, a thirteen-year-old boy was pulled out of class, in Bakersfield, Calif., because he was seen, by students, loading a 40-cal. handgun. He also wrote thirty names on a hit list, and at the bottom he inscribed they deserved to die (Drummond 2). Another copycat incident happened on April 23, four fourteen-year- old boys were arrested, in Wimberly, Texas, for scheming to bomb their school. The boys launched their scheme before the massacre happened in Colorado. Some students heard about the Littleton massacre, and decided to report the boys after hearing them bragging about bombing the school. Authorities found gunpowder and bomb-building instructions in the boys home (Drummond 1). The event could have been another Colorado disaster, because the boys were obviously, not being supervised. The parents should have noticed the bomb-making instructions and the gunpowder in their homes. Maybe, if the media focused more on what happens to the people who commit the crimes, instead of, the crimes than the copycat syndrome could be reduced.
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered thirteen people, people wounded twenty-three, and then killed themselves in the Columbine massacre (Pooley 2). Investigators found a diary foretelling the massacre, along with bomb-making materials, and a sawed-off shotgun barrel in Harris room. Due to the findings, in the Harris home, investigators believe the attack had been arranged for over a year. (Hillard 1) The parents should have noticed their son s outrageous website, or the sawed-off shotgun barrel lying on Harris dresser. Even if the parents did not notice these items, surely, they should have noticed the pipe-bomb factory in their garage; the ten-year- old child, down the street, knew about the factory (Dickinson 2). The parents did not notice any of the items and the boys had been working on the items for over a year, which shows that the boys were, definitely, being neglected.
Signs of hatred and alienation, displayed by Harris and Klebold, were either discarded or overlooked (Dickinson 1) . Last year, Eric broke a boy s, Brooks Brown, car windshield by chunking a piece of ice at the car (Pooley 1). The Browns, also, found Harris website where Harris said he wanted to blow up and shoot everything I can. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame ..I don t care if I live or die in the shootout , all I want to do is kill and injure as many of you (expletive) as I can, especially a few people like Brooks Brown. (qtd. in Pooley 1-2) Harris also said he had the weapons to fulfill his threat towards Brown. Harris website gave bomb-building instructions and had a statement that said he and a friend had already built four pipe bombs and exploded one. The Browns turned Harris into the sheriffs department and America Online, but did not receive a response from either one (Pooley 1-2). Then on March 25, 1998, Harris and Klebold were arrested for stealing electronic devices from a car. The judge was persuaded to put the boys into a juvenile diversion programs, drop the charges, and put the boys into anger management classes (Pooley 4). The boys gave out several warnings, but no one noticed or did anything about them.
The founder of Mosaic, an organization that helps adolescents at risk, Michael Meade said, Teenagers are desperately hungry for genuine involvement and genuine attention . (qtd. In Goode 4) When the suicides of twenty-seven youths were investigated, experts discovered that they were not normal teenagers, but severely disturbed youths whose psychological problems were longstanding and whose unhappiness had leached out in a hundred clues that were ignored or undetected by those around them. (Goode 1) Evidence of neurological abnormalities and psychiatric disorders, along with a history of humiliation, abuse, terror, or neglect have been found in studies of youthful murderers (Goode3). However, no matter how many studies are done, no single factor can explain what motivates adolescents to kill themselves or others (Goode 4).
Due to the occuring events, President Clinton arranged some proposals on gun control, including a measure to hold parents responsible if their child commits a crime with a gun which, according to officials, stems from negligence (Seelye 1). One way parents could help keep their child from murdering other children; because of, negligence would be to spend a sufficient amount of time with their child. How hard can reading a child s school papers be? Parents need to take time out to watch some of the programs their child watches or to get to know their child s friends. If Harris and Klebold s parents would have taken time out to do these things, they would have noticed that there was something wrong, about their child s behavior, and fifteen people might still be alive today. These simple actions could help reduce the risk of another massacre happening. However, some cases can occur when the parents become too involved with their child. Deb Sheehan, ParentTime s family therapist, explains, Conversely, some parents can be too in touch with their kids, which also leads to violent outbursts as a way to create a distance from good old Mom and Dad. ( Are 2)
Neglect, one of the main factors in the escalation of teen violence, causes teens to participate in the copycat syndrome, or be influenced by the media. The teens use the media and the copycat syndrome to obtain recognition from the American citizens; they do not receive at home.