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School Shootings & Psychoactive Drugs

W.E. 'Bill' Goodrich, PhD bgoodric at filebank.com
Thu Apr 22 12:59:47 EST 1999

Re-routed to original groups.

In article <371e922b.0 at news.victoria.tc.ca>, 
uj797 at victoria.tc.ca (Arthur T. Murray) writes: 

> John W. Maly (maly at shell.servtech.com) wrote on 21 Apr 1999:

> > I recently heard of a theory that the increase in student-
> > committed school shootings (which seems to result from
> > something that didn't exist before the 1990's) ...

That "increase" is somewhat illusory - an effect of current and past 
trends in media coverage. There were quite a number of such shootings 
(and bombings) in the US and Canada in the late 19th century and for 
a decade or so beyond each of the two "World Wars". In fact, there 
were a few rather spectacular ones in the 1950s (involving stolen 
military weaponry). 

And that doesn't include the incidents which instead involved stabbing, 
clubbing, vehicular assault, poisoning, and other non-gun violence. Nor 
does it include the politically inspired bombing incidents of the 
"Vietnam era" and the like. Or certain riots. 

> > ... is due to the
> > marked increase in the prescribing of psychoactive drugs to
> > students.  This theory was based on the claim that every single
> > one of these disturbed individuals was on Ritalin, Prozac, or
> > some similar-such widely-prescribed drug, which are believed to
> > cause psychosis in a tiny percentage of patients.

> > Does anyone know if this statistic is valid?

No, it is not. Not even close, in fact. 

> > Thanks,

> > John
> > Syracuse University Psychology Department

> > P.S. This would explain the fact that all of the shootings have
> > occurred in, at the lowest, middle-class school districts;
> > poorer parents would not be able to afford such medication.

> If the above statistic is indeed valid, the psychotic outbreaks
> occur in a uniquely American setting conducive to an urge to kill.

It isn't valid. It is a speculation based on a mistake. 

> There are small American children right now who will be killed in
> their prosperous American high schools over the next ten years be-
> cause America fosters the society that erupts in a killing spree:

Again, take a look at the ACTUAL numbers. The one significant 
difference between the more recent American events and those in other 
parts of the world is that the American events are not attributed to 
some political faction or cause. 

> 1.  Although radio in the nineteen-twenties and TV in the forties
> started out as innocent media belonging to the public, their rapid
> commercialization led to violence as the lowest common denominator.

Take a look at the OTHER popular media of that period. Especially 
such things as comic books. And by the time Television took hold, 
Radio was host to some spectacularly violent "crime dramas" and the 

W.E. (Bill) Goodrich, PhD

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