School shooters desire for approval from online community.
Sociologist Vesa Puuronen calls for serious consideration and investigation of the motives that, for example, the Jokela and Kauhajoki shooters have presented for their acts.
“The acts themselves are ethically condemnable and can be regarded as mindless, but to their originators they have been meaningful parts of their world and worldview,” he says.
Puuronen believes that the online community that has formed around school shootings has motivated the shooters. School shooters also look to build a reputation in their community.
“The community’s approval is desired, even if it results in the loss of your life.”
In Puuronen’s opinion, it would be important for people to not form such fantasies of omnipotence, which, under the influence of online communities, could lead to killing.
School shootings have killed 22 people
Raumanmeri junior high school, Rauma:
• A school student, a 14-year-old boy, shoots at classmates at the beginning of the lesson.
• Two classmates died.
Jokela school, Tuusula:
• An 18-year-old fires at the school’s students and teachers.
• Nine dead: six students, two of the school staff and the perpetrator.
Seinäjoki Vocational Education facilities, Kauhajoki:
• A 22-year-old man kills school students and teachers with a firearm.
• Eleven dead: one teacher and nine students, as well as the perpetrator. In addition, one person seriously injured and two people with light injuries.
An office in the city centre and a comprehensive school, Orivesi:
• A 23-year-old man shoots his ex-girlfriend’s father at his office with a flare gun. After that, he goes to the school and fires a gun.
• One person was wounded in the office.
Puuronen thinks that it would be important for adults to listen to young people’s ideas in the prevention of youth mass shootings. Additionally, there should be the courage to criticise these ideas if they are misanthropic, self-contradictory or unscientific.
“Those close to young people should have the sensitivity to intervene against such ideas. Very few people live in a perfect vacuum, without in any way signalling their intentions to anyone.”
Puuronen says that, after the Jokela incident, he was contacted by teachers who were concerned about the views of some of their students.
“Teachers read the students’ essays and history exam answers, so they are well aware of young people’s thoughts.”
Puuronen also calls for politicians and spiritual leaders to directly condemn ideological opinions based on fantasies of omnipotence.
EEVA NIKKILÄ-KIIPULA – STT
MARIA MANNER – HT
LEHTIKUVA / SARI GUSTAFSSON