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Perspectives on School Shootings in Finland

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  • 1. Finnish Youth Research Network Revenge of a lonely anti- hero or a logical consequence of youth policy ? Perspectives on school shootings in Finland. Tomi Kiilakoski. Terrorism and Violence in Nordic Nations: Semi-plenary session. Conference of the Nordic Sociological Association. 17th of August, 2012. Reykjavik. 17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 2. School Shootings: Methodological Problems (Harding & al. 2002)• Conceptual problem: A definition of school shootings is needed to construct the universe of cases that can be labelled as school shootings.• Comparison case problem: In Finland there have been 570 threats after Jokela shooting, school violence is a general phenomenon.• Degree of Freedom Problem: a relatively small number of cases as well as a large number of potential causes – it is difficult to isolate the effect of one variable.• Combined Causes Problem: the events are rare but the universe of potential cases in which the events might occur is extremely large.• Different Causes Problem: seemingly similar rare events may have different sets of causes – In Finland Kauhajoki shooting was largely influenced by the Jokela shooting.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 3. School Shootings: Further Problems• The dominance of the media material (false information etc.)• Some of the most important information remains classified – In addition, it is difficult to obtain qualitative or even quantitavie data from the victimized young people.• Shooters themselves are trying to manipulate the media reception and are able to influence the public reception of their acts.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 4. Lethal violence in Finland• In 2010 there were 134 lethal acts in Finland (2,5 / 100 00 inhabitants).• Usually lethal violence is made by unemployed men in alcohol-related situations.• Usually the victim is a male known by a perpetraror (46 %) or a woman in an intimate relationship (18 %).• Homicide rate of Finland is 6th highests in the EU, and is considerably higher than other Nordic countries (Sweden 0,92, Denmark 0,82, Norway 0, 71 and Island 0,52/ 100 00 0 inhabitants).• Homicides in Finland tend to connected to expressive motives. Share of homicides committed in private homes is 73 per cent, a share of homicides committed against men where the perpetrator and victim where acquaintances 68 per cent. Further, a very large proportion (over 80 per cent) of both victim and perpetrators were intoxicated by alcohol, and closer to half of the homicides here committed with a sharp instrument (mostly kitchen knives).17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 5. School as an arena of violenceA group interview with 10 year old children• TK: How often do you see violence here?• Informant 1. Every school break.• TK: Why do you think it is easier to see the quarrels of the boys?• Informant 2. Because they are fighting and using violence, it easy to see that.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 6. School Violence• 44 percent of the ninth-grades have who have experienced violence report experiencing it in school (street being the second , 22 per cent ). School violence is gendered, only 8 per cent of the girls who have experienced violence report facing violence in school.• National school health survey reveals that 20 per cent of school bullied boys have experienced physical violence in school.• Even severe forms of school violence: Riihimäki (2002) girl shot a boy with a gun, Hamina (2003) student barricated himself to a school room with a gun.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 7. Youth Violence in Finland• Young people are more likely to face violence than other age groups. Young male are more likely to experience physical violence.• The young are a vulnerable group: knowing how to obtain help or willingness to accept help might not be easy• A large part of violence experiences remain hidden from authorities. (Honkatukia 2011)• Carrying a weapon• Age group 12 14 16 18• Males* 2.8 6.0 10.4 10.3• Females 0.6 1.9 2.5 2.7• All* 1.8 4.0 6.5 6.6(Kivivuori & al. 2011)17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 8. School shooting in Finland• Raumanmeri upper secondary 1989.• Jokela, Tuusula 2007.• Kauhajoki 2008.• What kind of a definition of a school shooting one should use?• Fast 2008: The shooters and the victims should be on a school ground, the shooters should be young and the shooters should be a student or a former student• Larkin 2009. The student of a former student brings gun to school with intention of shooting somebody, the gun is discharged and at least one person is injured, the shooter attempts to shoot more than one person, at least one of which is not targeted.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 9. Other extreme cases of youth violence in Finland• Myyrmanni bomb explosion. 7 people were killled. 19 year old male planted the bomb.• Hyvinkää shooting 2012. 2 victims were killed in a random shooting by 18 year old male.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 10. The Jokela school shootings• The shooters started planning the shootings at least in March 2007 – Mentions this in his diary• Bought a gun in 2th of November• Left his manifesto on the internet in 5th of November, edited his media kit late at night on 6th of November• Shot his first victim in 11.42. at 7th of November• Killed 8 persons, including the school nurse and principal. Committed suicide afterwards.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 11. Transformative nature of the shooting in Jokela1. Violence in general (Villa 1999, 135), and school shootings in particular (Kiilakoski & Oksanen), reforms public spaces. For the young people, the meaning of school building changed dramatically.2. Shooter was ‘one of us’, a person who was known to almost everybody. School shootings also affected their sense of community. They had to cope with the fact that the imagined community of Jokela was not what they had thought.3. After the crisis Jokela was full of adults wich were not part of the community. Police, crisis workers, media and many others occupied the space.4. Wide news covering created an image of Jokela which still affects the lives of young people. After their sense of community and space was shaken the media spectacle created an image which differed from their perspective.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 12. Revenge of a lonely anti-hero?• “And remember that this is my war, my ideas and my plans. Don’t blame anyone else for my actions than myself. Don’t blame my parents or my friends. I told nobody about my plans and I always kept them inside my mind only. Don’t blame the movies I see, the music I hear, the games I play or the books I read. No, they had nothing to do with this. This is my war: one man war against humanity, governments and weak-minded masses of the world! No mercy for the scum of the earth! HUMANITY IS OVERRATED! Its time to put NATURAL SELECTION & SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST back on tracks! “From the Manifesto by Jokela shooter, Pekka- Eric Auvinen17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 13. Individual difficulties• All three Finnish school shootings were associated with negative and violent experiences in school.• the Finnish shooters tended to feel marginalized and to lack peer group approval in their school careers. This observation is consistent with the link between peer rejection and antisocial behavior observed in other studies.• The Finnish shooters suffered from mental disorders that were not properly treated.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 14. On-line and off-line identities• The Jokela school shooter, Pekka-Eric Auvinen, had a net identity that was strikingly different from his social self.• His mother thought that before the shooting, Pekka-Eric became more afraid of social situations such as applying for a summer job.• In his net videos, he constructed a violent masculine identity with fantasies of sexual domination, stern political opinions and disdain for the weak. The ultramasculine character portrayed on the net video clips contrasts with the everyday person known to people in Jokela.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 15. Portraying Male Rage• Auvinen (a.k.a. Natural Selector 89, Natural Selector, Sturmgeist89, Sturmgeist, Eric von Auffoin) lists his preferences which include violent video games, films, music and the industrial and metal music he listened which portray massacres, the actions of serial killers and the dark side of Western societies generally. His profile combines an interest in societal matters, a fascination with guns and masculine violence.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 16. Failure of youth policy and welfare services?• Some writers thought that school shootings reveal the thruth about a liberalising welfare policy and a decline in a sense of community (Särkelä 2009).• More balanced accounts state that if welfare services were better adapted to the situation, the shootings might have been prevented.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 17. Failures in prevention• The first opportunity for early prevention takes place in childhood when many young boys are bullied. Anti-bullying programs might prove to be a method for preventing the escalation of abusive behavior that ultimately leads to violence.• A second opportunity for prevention occurs when a student develops symptoms of mental disorder.• A third opportunity for prevention occurs when students express their thoughts of violence to their peers.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 18. Before the shooting• Jokela as a tight-knit community. All of the 6 inter-views thought Jokela was a tight community with strong local identity which was stronger than other ties, such as political ideologies. – roughly 6000 inhabitants – Like Kauhajoki, Jokela was described as peaceful community were events like school shootings could not have happened (Oksanen & al. 2010) – The young go to the same school from 7th to 9th grade and continue in the same building if they chooce to go high school. In total, this means that six years is spend on a same building. • School becomes an important youth cultural venue in this setting.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 19. Before the shooting• Young people had knowledge about the shooter, some of which could be considered leakages (O’Toole 2000): fascination on school shootings and guns, interested in Social Darwinism, acquiring of a gun (Kiilakoski & Oksanen 2011).• Both the face-to-face peer group and on-line community knew about these matters.• Young people expressed their concerns earlier on autumn to local youth worker. – They felt that the shooter was dangerous either to himself or to the others.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 20. Cultural perspective on school shootings• Individual difficulties or violent fantasies manifest themselves in certain cultural form.• Pays attention to a school shootings as a global media spectacle which promises notoriety and maximum media attention.• Is interested in a performative function of school shootings• Emphasises the role of Columbine shootins in 1999 which became a big media event, gave school shootings a political background and made the17.8.2012 Reykjavik some sort of sub-cultural heroes. shooters Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 21. Newman & al. 2004• Conditions for school shootings: 1. Experienced social marginalisation 2. Psycho-social problems 3. Cultural Script 4. Being under the radar 5. Easy access to guns17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 22. Cultural Script of school shootings• combines larger cultural expectations about masculine violence and more general guidelines on how to perpetrate a school shooting.• The different levels of the script (cultural, interpersonal, intrapersonal) both form the background of the act—they deal with masculinity, revenge, acquiring power in public space—and give detailed guidelines on how to react in given situations.• Is not a question of copy-catting: School shooters are aware of the script and are able to locate themselves within it. They may also try to modify the script, for example, by altering the media strategy.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 23. Post-Columbine features of the cultural script (Larkin 2009)• One of the cultural scripts that is a consequence of the Columbine shootings is that the shooters engage in their rampages to “make a statement.” – “hopefully my actions will inspire all the intelligent people of the world and start some sort of revolution against the current systems”. Pekka- Eric Auvinen• Killing for notoriety is the second outcome of the Columbine shootings17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 24. Cultural script• Prior school shootings – Becoming a member of an imagined community of notorious school shooters by committing a crime – Attaching oneself to cultural script – The Jokela shooter was interested in Columbine shooters, especially E.H. • Interner discussion group, material on a computer, references to their opinions and statements, discussed them with friends in hich school – Attack againt institution: randomly targeted victims, trying to burn a school, greating as much destruction as possible – Combines media culture representations to the school shooters and creates a web on inter-connecte themes17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 25. Eric Harris (Columbine shooter)17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 26. Pekka Eric Auvinen• Hate, Im so full of it and I love it. That is one thing I really love. Some time ago, I used to believe in humanity and I wanted to live a long and happy life... but then I woke up. I started to think deeper and realized things. But it was not easy to become existential... knowing as much as I know has made me unhappy, frustrated and angry. I just can’t be happy in the society or the reality I live. Due to long process of existential thinking, observing the society I live and some other things happened in my life... I have come to the point where I feel nothing but hate against humanity and human race.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 27. The spectacle of school violence• Martin Heidegger, Age of World Picture: Vision is a dominant sense in a modern world. The role of vision in ontology is becoming more and more important.• “ I can only imagine, how wonderful my attack on humanity will be: people dying, some panicking and some running away, some will be handicapped, smoke coming out of a building, fire spreading … damn, I can hardly wait.” (The diary of a Jokela shooter, 20th of April 2007.)• Creating a form of violence there the role of other people is to be part of a manuscript.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 28. Creating a Spectacle• ”The Basements Tapes” by Columbine shooters left to by found in the Basement. Some parts have been published. 1999.• Virginia Tech: material sent to NBC. 2007.• Jokela: posting a media package to rapidshare and connecting directly to the desired audience.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 29. Conclusions• The individual and policy level research should be enrichened by the cultural perspective.• School violence as a phenomenon is under-studied In Finland and not adequately recognised as a social problem• The cultural script of school shootings helps to create a media spectacle and gain notoriety: the spectacle, however, is created by the shooter, the media, and people following media.• Internet as a site of identity production plays a key role in school shootings: the need to combine off-line and on-line information on prevention17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski
  • 30. Main references Tomi Kiilakoski tomi.kiilakoski@uta.fi Finnish Youth Research Society: http://www.nuorisotutkimusseura.fi/en. •Kiilakoski, Tomi & Oksanen Atte (2011). Peer and Cultural Influences on Homicidal Violence. Journal of Youth Development No. 129, 31-42. •Kiilakoski, Tomi & Oksanen, Atte. (2011) The Soundtrack of School Shootings. Music, Cultural Script and Male Rege. YOUNG 19(3), 247-270.17.8.2012 Reykjavik Tomi Kiilakoski