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Spree killings make the headlines but the understandable outbursts of repugnance and anger do little to identify the causes of violence. Usually the killer is a loner, but occasionally has a partner.
Frequently, witnesses will say "we had no idea this was going to happen" or "there were no indications", but the indications and warning signs are always there. It's just a question of being able to recognise them. I recommend Gavin de Becker's book The Gift of Fear: survival signals that protect us from violence which tells you how to recognise the warning signs.
Thomas Hamilton (Dunblane) wrote lots of protest letters to lots of people but no-one took any notice (although it now transpires that more was known about him than originally thought). Joseph Wesbecker (Standard Gravure) had a history of mental health problems but he was taunted and teased at work and given the worst shifts. No doubt Michael Ryan (Hungerford) gave warning signs too, as did Robert Stewart Flores. Columbine High School had a history of sporting jocks and cliques but no-one thought that the climate - which included bullying of the less physically strong - would lead to violence. But if you allow decent, non-violent kids to be tormented, bullied, intimidated, harassed, teased, excluded, undervalued, devalued and ignored, and do nothing about it, there will be trouble.
The culture of many schools is still one where physical prowess dominates. Children who follow artistic pursuits such as music, art, literature and poetry are vilified by the dominant aggressive children who see them as "weak" and "wimps". In reality it is aggressive children who are weak. The only strength of aggressive people is violence, but violence is the ultimate weakness.
Since September 1999 it has been a legal requirement for every school in the UK to have an anti-bullying policy. However, there is a world of difference between a school which is genuinely committed to dealing with bullying, and a school whose policy is words on paper to be waved in court during legal action in order to abdicate responsibility and thus evade accountability.
In the UK, at least 16 children commit suicide each year because they are being bullied and no-one in authority at the school is dealing with the issue. See Neil Marr and Tim Field's book Bullycide: death at playtime.
The focus of Bully OnLine is bullying in the workplace, but there are also pages on child and school bullying. Half the population are bullied but most only recognise it when they read this. Most people know at least one serial bully but may only recognise them as such when they read the serial bully's profile. Bullying touches everybody in some way - have a look at the site map for a complete list of pages on this web site.
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