School Shootings Averted In Germany And Norway

Two weeks after a Finnish student went on a rampage that left several classmates dead, a potential school massacre was avoided in Germany due to alert students. The students alerted school authorities that a fellow student had posted photos of the 1999 Columbine shooting in an Internet chat room. The planned event was to be the work of two students. Last Friday, school authorities questioned one of the shooters, a boy identified as Rolf B. about the Columbine photos and he claimed he was trying to avoid a repeat of Columbine and agreed to remove the photos. He then committed suicide on his way home by throwing himself under a tram. Police searched the flat of his fellow conspirator, Robin G and discovered two crossbows, a number of air guns, and instructions for making petrol bombs. Robin G. told police: “We wanted to cause injuries and kill people and then we wanted to kill ourselves.” A fellow student recalled being asked by Robin G., who was described as a loner, to get him a gun. In the meantime, a Norwegian school on the island of Askoy was placed under alert after a YouTube video was discovered about a planned attack on a school on the island.

These stories illustrate the power of instantaneous communication which allows young people around the world to share feelings and emotions. Most probably, the number of young people prepared to kill others or themselves has not changed over time so much as their ability to share ideas and experiences with fellow disaffected youth. The good news is having so many students begin to share with authorities what is happening on places like YouTube of MySpace.