Columbine Compare and Constrast Essay

This essay has a total of 1434 words and 6 pages.


On April 20, 1999 in a suburban town called Littleton, Colorado one high school was about
to have one of the most tragic and deadly day in US history. Columbine High School was in
the forefront of this tragedy. Two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, opened fire on
their fellow classmates and teacher. These two students cut the lives short of thirteen
students and one teacher. They then turned their guns onto themselves leaving the nation
with no answers as to why? They did leave videotape. This videotape contained Eric Harris
and Dylan Klebold planning their attack on Columbine High School. This piece of evidence
showed two students that were not part of the "in crowd". They were outsiders, losers, as
some would consider them. They were taunted, humiliated, and disrespected by their
classmates. But how can two intelligent students do something as deadly as they did. Was
it because they had bad parents? Not at all, they even went out of their way to save their
parents the blame by repeatedly saying that it was not their fault that they were about to
do what they did. So what was the cause of all this tragedy and how can it be stopped so
it can never happen again in our middle schools and high schools? Elliot Aronson a social
psychologist wrote a book called Nobody Left to Hate, Teaching Compassion After Columbine.
This book represents his ideas on how to use certain strategies to have a better school
environment that teaches compassion, tolerance while putting education in a winning
situation. Aronson discusses the Columbine High School in depth, talking about the short
cut solutions or pump-handle intervention as he calls it that schools and legislation
passed soon after the Columbine tragedy. He then offers solutions that are more focused
toward students as "social animals" in a school situation. In this book he makes it a
point that teachers are at the forefront of these solutions and gives them certain class
activities that can help teachers have better students and also better themselves. He
states that it is their job to show cooperation, empathy and compassion as well as
practice it themselves. Aronson's book Nobody Left to Hate is a step that needs to be
taken towards a better school environment. We can learn a lot about the tragedy that
happened in Columbine High School and if this tragedy is taken like another passing moment
with no clear solution then one day it can happen again.

Aronson discusses pump- handle intervention. It is solutions that is quite obvious but in
many ways short cuts the problem and is not in most cases feasible to do in our democratic
society. After the Columbine shootings Congress passed a legislation allowing schools to
be able to post up the Ten Commandments. Aronson argues that these types of peripheral
solutions won't solve the root of the problem "What is immediately apparent is that most
of these cures are not based on solid evidence but rest on emotion, wishful thinking,
bias, and political expediency."(p.10). He is also talking about putting forth gun
control, putting metal detectors and security guards in school grounds, and clamping down
on the violence that children see on television. Gun control has been an issue in this
country for many years. Aroson cites other countries that have very strict gun control and
is able to show that the US has the most gun related homicides. Aronson also points out
that congress is dependent on financial contribution that the National Rifle Association
gives them for their candidacy. Metal detectors and security guards is another pump-handle
intervention. Aronson was quite concerned of its impact on schools that did not have a
high crime. He felt that it would give students negative feelings of their school and it
would seem that it was not safe. Another pump-handle intervention is to restrict the
viewing of violence in the media. He cites that social psychologist found that there is a
correlation to violence on television and violent response by a child depending on the way
they are feeling. Aronson also states "there is a great deal of research showing that
repeated exposure to painful or unpleasant events tend to have a numbing effect on our
sensitivity to those events" (p.61). A solution to this is to have a rating system for
violent shows and this Aronson believes is a good step in the right direction.

Aronson also talks about the idea that humans are social animals. "It is a truism that
humans are social animals that we are all deeply influenced by the other people and than
ways they treat us, as well as by the general social climate of any situation."(p.21). He
states that people jump into conclusion that the behavior was due entirely to the person's
personality, but that we fail to put in the mix the situation. He explains that by simply
labeling Harris and Klebold as evil it diverts people's attention away from understanding
where these two boys are coming from. He then goes on to say that it is of vital
importance that we attempt to understand how different social situations can lead to
different outcomes. Aronson then explains how Harris and Klebold's social surrounding made
them do what they did. These two were labeled in a negative manner by their peers and were
taunted all the time, and this certainly played a role in their actions. In closing this
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