OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS
Of course, the most serious long term results of a school killing are:
||Decades of potential life lost by murder victim(s).
||Short and long term loss of health by those injured.
||Emotional distress by friends and family of the victims.
||Incarceration of the perpetrator.
However, it would seem that many in the student body who were not
injured during the tragedy may also suffer long-term distress. The University of
Oregon conducted a study among students at Thurston High School in
Springfield OR. Kipland Kinkel, aged 15 at the time, murdered two fellow
students on 1998-MAY-21: Ben Walker, 16, and Mikael Nickolauson, 17. He
had killed his parents, Bill and Faith Kinkel, at home during the previous
day. 25 were injured at Thurston.
On the second anniversary of the shooting, researchers circulated a 50
page questionnaire among students who attended school at the time of the
shooting, students who had graduated before the shooting, and a control
group of students from nearby Corvallis high school. Results were released
on the third anniversary of the tragedy:
||Students who were closest to the shooting (in the school cafeteria,
breezeway or courtyard) reported that:
||they were four times more likely to startle easily at loud
||they were three times more likely to be distressed by memories
of the event.
||25% of Thurston students said that they have been diagnosed since
the shooting with depression, anxiety, learning disorders or post
traumatic stress disorder. This compares with only 5% of Thurston
students who had graduated before the incident, and 13% for the
Some students continue to think of the tragedy almost every day. Josh
Ryker, 17, saw his brother, Jake, injured. They both wrestled Kinkel to
the ground. Josh said: "I donít understand, I canít
comprehend, how it wouldnít be on their minds if they were here that
But life goes on. Paul Halupa, a Thurston teacher commented: "It
is hard to bury joy indefinitely. I find the rebirth of joy in this case
far from being an insult to those who were hurt and scarred, but a tribute
to those who were hurt and scarred." Principal Catherine Spencer
said "I get the very distinct sense from them that itís well
past time to go on. They are looking to the future, and thatís what they
want to celebrate. They donít want to be known as tragic children."
Kinkel is currently serving the rest of his 112-year sentence. He is working
towards his high school diploma.
"Depression found among students close to shooting: A survey finds
the event continues to affect those enrolled at the time,"
Associated Press, 2001-MAY-21.
"Thurston: Three years after," Associated Press, 2001-MAY-21.
Copyright © 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2001-MAY-21
Latest update: 2001-MAY-21
Author: B.A. Robinson