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Customer Review

on April 20, 2007
Research like this is useful for anyone who wants to understand the Virginia Tech tragedy. School shooters such as Cho Seung-Hui are not born raging to kill. They are molded through abuse. Cho is a textbook example of the type of school shooter featured in these in-depth case studies - shy, socially awkward, and tormented by high school classmates.

The social climates at the high schools attended by school shooters are typically vicious and hateful, with rampant sexual harassment of girls and women and antigay harassment of less dominant boys.

At Columbine High School, the most famous school shooting site studied in this book, jocks reigned supreme. The state wrestling champion, the leader of a clique of athlete bullies and the symbol of injustice for school shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, was allowed to park his $100,000 Hummer all day in a 15-minute parking space. The school indulged athletes' rampant sexual and racial bullying and physical abuse of others, including Harris and Kleboldand were given free license to abuse others. A coach did nothing when the athletes targeted a Jewish boy in gym class, singing songs about Hitler when he made a basket, pinning him to the ground and doing "body twisters" that left him bruised all over, and threatening to set him on fire.

Many of the school shooters featured in this book endured antigay harassment that contributed to their rage. Barry Loukaitis, who killed a teacher and two students in Washington state, was taunted by school jocks as a "faggot." Luke Woodham in Mississippi, who killed two students and wounded seven others, was often called "gay" by classmates. Michael Carneal, who killed three fellow students and wounded five in Kentucky, was labeled as "gay" in the school newspaper. Charles Williams in Santee, California, who shot at 15 students and adults and killed two, had been derided as "a skinny faggot."

According to an Associated Press news account (4/20/07), Cho endured similar abuse to the shooters featured in this book: "Classmates in Virginia, where Cho grew up, said he was teased and picked on, apparently because of shyness and his strange, mumbly way of speaking. Once, in English class at Westfield High School in Chantilly, Va., when the teacher had the students read aloud, Cho looked down when it was his turn, said Chris Davids, a Virginia Tech senior and high school classmate. After the teacher threatened him with an F for participation, Cho began reading in a strange, deep voice that sounded "like he had something in his mouth," Davids said. "The whole class started laughing and pointing and saying, `Go back to China,'" Davids said. [In middle school, another student is quoted as saying,]"There were just some people who were really mean to him and they would push him down and laugh at him. He didn't speak English really well and they would really make fun of him." "
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