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In the years since I began teaching, I have dealt with two instances of disturbing pictures students drew. One was a boy who drew a picture of him killing another classmate and another one a picture of a girl killing herself. Both time I basically had to beg for help and assistance from the counselor and principal. Both times, the parents stood me up for meetings regarding the issues. The students have since moved away and I often wonder what happened with their homelives and situations.

It is such a sad situation, but it makes me wonder . . . how long did he "get through" the system in order to finally make the horrible choice he made?


As the details leak out, I'm being reminded of an incident that happened more than a decade ago when I was in Graduate School. A law student took off on a shooting rampage down the campus main street; he killed two people and injured several others. I was on the street at the time and heard the shots.

He survived.

And...wrote a successful book as well as sued his psychiatrist for over half a million dollars.

This makes me a little sick. Actually, no, it makes me a lot sick.

I'm sure that many teachers, both at VT and throughout the country are asking themselves the same questions and, yes, the "system" probably does need to be tighter. But I'm not sure how to make it so or how many of these tragedies have to happen before there's some change.

Cat, Galloping

A and I were having this conversation earlier this evening. It's not like he wasn't suspected. His classmates in that playwriting class talked about him turning into a school shooter, and various students and teachers reported him to the administration and the police over the years. But what could they have done? Kicking him out of college wouldn't have prevented him from coming back and doing what he did-- it may even have encouraged it. And it's not like Minority Report where you can arrest someone *before* they've committed a crime.

You say "and so I let it go" like you had another option, but I can't think what that could possibly have been. You did *everything* you could possibly have done.


You did what you could. Beyond notification it was out of your hands, right?

I don't think it's that strange to see children express themselves violently on paper - through writing and art. I think a lot of people deal with these kinds of feelings. What makes the difference is how they choose to act, or not act, on them.

The VT shooting is a horrible, horrible thing - one that many people will never get over. But there is really nowhere to put blame.

Though at some point I'm sure it will be put on his mother. And then it really WILL be turned into a book.


midlife mommy

Yikes. That is really creepy for anyone, much less a seventh grader!


I think you did everything you could do, and given the other evidence you've cited, impossible to tell if it wasn't simply a dark creative mind. The only thing that shows the difference is time. For example, Francis Ford Coppola has done some dramatically dark, bloody, violent movies- but has never killed, so experience tells us it's just a creative mind. The kid you're talking about didn't have anything to suggest it was anything other than that-but you're right in that only time will tell.


I know the person that Suz wrote about (well I did a long time ago). It was a very disturbing incident in a small town. Everyone knew that guy was crazy. No one knew what to do.

It sounds like your student is just a really good student. If someone has friends and seems well-adjusted then I think the risk is much lower. I wonder what Stephen King would have been like in junior high.

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