On April 20th, 1999 two high school students from Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado armed with a variety of firearms managed to kill 15 persons and injure many others in their school. Following this incident, a wave of bomb threats to schools throughout the country erupted and several adolescents and adults were arrested. Ten days following the incident we surveyed a total of 412 students from urban area high schools. All students have heard of the shooting, 80% felt sad about the incident, 90% felt hate for the shooters and sad for the victims. 3% felt indifferent and 3% liked or admired the shooters. 60% thought the shooters had help from others. In response to why did the shooters do it, the top factors included loneliness, family problems and desire for attention. Virtually all participants thought that access to fire arms is what made it possible for these teens to commit their shooting. Other factors included poor school security, help from others and inattention from other students and teachers. The survey also included questions regarding suicide, carrying weapons and access to firearms. Adolescent violence continues to increase in the USA and other countries. Major contributing factors, at least from the adolescent point of view, are access to guns, family problems, lack of friends and poor communication with teachers.

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Published in International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, v. 11, issue 3-4, p. 153-158.

©2011 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co.

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