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Opinion and Editorial

Gun culture

Filed on November 10, 2007

THE school shooting incident in the Finnish village of Jokela where an 18-year-old killed eight people, including the principal, before taking his own life is yet another reminder of the dangers of gun culture among youth and how it is becoming a mounting international concern with time.

Surprisingly for a peace loving country like Finland, it has the third highest per capita gun ownership statistics in the world. And as numerous similar incidents in American schools last year raised debate, western youth is found falling prey to their popular media's undesirable habit of celebrating gun culture.

It is not fitting for the world of today, caught as it is in the war-on-terror dilemma and news of bombings and killings every day, to have the same repeated on the big screen in the industry's pursuit of profits. Shockingly, violence not material makes the biggest bucks. While official opinion around comes round to appreciating these facts, another kind of exercise needs urgent undertaking to keep more of such incidents from taking place.

Not unlike youths that have committed similar atrocities, the boy displayed signs of mental trauma, stress, loneliness and perhaps bordered on paranoia. Keeping aloof from the world, he was pushed ever deeper into a cold cell inside his own mind, as is deduced from internet postings he made not too long before going about the killing.

The uncertainty raises the responsibility of parents and teachers alike. Whenever such symptoms appear, they should be taken seriously rather than be ignored, or worse, ridiculed. Hostile youth, plenty of provocation and easily available arms are a lethal combination. And as incidents of school shootings grow across the world, it is becoming clear that short of nipping the evil in the bud, there is really no credible way of dealing with this problem. The psychological handling is just as important, if not more, as security issues at schools and such places.

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