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Get Your Gunn: an exploration into the causes behind the Columbine Massacre of 1999

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  • Criminology


On April 20th, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School and took the lives of twelve fellow students, one teacher, and themselves. The shooting was one of the worst incidents of school violence in American history and therefore generated a lot of media attention. This dissertation examines the media explanations for the incident and then moves on to criminological explanations that can be provided by labelling theory and subculture theory. This has been achieved by examining a number of key sources, including books, journals and relevant internet sources. It can be suggested that, while society is more willing to accept that youths are being negatively influenced through various media forms, the underlying cause for such violent behaviour may in fact be far deeper than this. It has been found that essentially, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold acted in response to social rejection and the effects of it. Bullying, alienation and various controls all contributed to their downward spiral. In the light of a rise in similar incidents, the dissertation ends by questioning what course of action society will take. Will there be concern for tormented youths or will they continue to be perceived as a threat?

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