The Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy – Teaches Us That Yet To Be Developed New Education Is Needed Now


As the story of the tragic Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school shooting unfolds, many people are pondering: Why has there been so much violence in the U.S. lately, and what can be done to stop it?

This year saw a mass shooting of movie theater patrons in Aurora, Colorado; the sentencing of Jared Lee Loughner on 19 counts, including murder and the attempted assassination of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; and the first overall rise in U.S. violent crime in nearly two decades.”


Here’s What Happened

The Huffington Post reports,

A man opened fire Friday inside two classrooms at the Connecticut elementary school where his mother was a teacher, killing 26 people, including 20 children…The 20-year-old killer, carrying two handguns, committed suicide at the school, and another person was found dead at a second scene, bringing the toll to 28…The gunman was believed to suffer from a personality disorder…

The rampage, coming less than two weeks before Christmas, was the nation’s second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 people dead in 2007.”

What Can Be Done?

Why is it that violent crime is increasing in the U.S. and how do we stop it? The fairly recent research being conducted in the field of social network science gives a clue as to the “why,” and also to the “how” to prevent future violent crime. As Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, coauthors of the book, Connected: How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, And Do, write:

If we are affected by our embeddedness in social networks and influenced by others who are closely or distantly tied to us, we necessarily lose some power over our own decisions. Such a loss of control can provoke especially strong reactions when people discover that their neighbors or even strangers can influence behaviors and outcomes that have moral overtones and social repercussions.”

However, it could be argued that in the case of Adam Lanza, the 20 year old shooter in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, that normal rules do not apply. Also, if we look at the various mass shootings that have occurred in recent years, these individuals have also not been treated as normal. In the case of mental instabilities, as has been reported again with Lanza, this is accurate.

But that being said, to discount the influence of the social environment upon a person, to simply say that nature is to blame, and disregard the aspect of nurture, is not only naïve, but also counterproductive to both understanding behavior and treating it.

In the case of social network science this is taken into consideration, as Christakis and Fowler report,

People are constrained by geography, socioeconomic status, technology, and even genes to have certain kinds of social relationships and to have a certain number of them…”

So although genes are a factor, not looking to social influence, at how we are connected, as a factor which can be changed (unlike genes), is misleading and counterproductive to society preventing violent crimes from occurring in the future.

The Need For New Education

So if society is completely interconnected as the study of social networks documents, but mostly lacks knowledge about this, then new education is needed in order for society to begin to acknowledge its interdependence. Our current education and social influence does not yet realize this, as values of competitive materialism still prevail, values that inherently detach people from each other and allow for all kinds of defects to ripen. As a result, society should see the necessity to care for others in society, that mutual responsibility between everyone is needed.

This is also the case in relation to mental instability, and in regards to the psychological development and wellbeing of individuals in society. To understand why this is so the following question should be asked:

With the form of education that exists within the U.S. now (and it is the same form throughout most of the world), is an individual being taught about what people principally deal with on a daily basis, i.e. human relationships and how to get along with others, about how to develop oneself so as to best benefit oneself and others in society?

Sadly, without this new educational direction, which takes priority not on excelling individually at the expense of others (like our education does today) but literally on how to develop a happy individual in a happy society, it appears as though the words of analytical psychology founder, Carl Jung, still hold true today:

Man cannot stand a meaningless life… We need more understanding of human nature because the only real danger that exists is man himself. He is the great danger and we are pitifully unaware of it. We know nothing of man, far too little. He should be studied because we are the origin of all coming evil.”

Image: “Hands” by barnabywasson on Flickr.

1 Comment

  1. While everyone is so anxiously curious as to WHY??? this last horrific shooting took place in Sandy Hook Elementary School and in general, what’s the reason for the similar incidences which recently took place around our country, we should first perhaps contemplate what kind of reasons (or reasoning) we are looking for. Are we looking for some kind of a shallow and limited explanation which are helpless in nature, as to why sick individuals engage in these heinous crimes and what brings them to actually carry them out? Or perhaps it’s time for a more comprehensive reasoning, which not only would relieve or baffled minds but could also better direct us to the solution and remedy for this and for many other atrocities we face in numerous other areas in our lives (and perhaps also shed some light on why such “Devils” are born in our communities or maybe even within us…). Do we even believe in some higher power which is the source of all reasons? and if not, then why even bother looking for an answer (no higher power = everything is a mere chance), which is perhaps not given to us on purpose, in order for us to seek through this terrible drama for this higher Divine power (the source of all reasons)…. The answer to the million dollars question: “WHY?” is very simple – look at what these devastating events led to and voila! you got the answer!!!… We see everyone starting to reach out to their fellow neighbor, caring and trying to help, feeling a sense of solidarity (as if it was their own children), the nation uniting and an overall sense of Love ensues… Here is the simple clear answer to our WHY? question – This higher power (the sum of all the forces of Nature – which some like to refer to it as God) is gradually leading us to become more and more like it (Loving and Caring) so we can finally be balanced with nature, much like it Loves & Cares for all the creatures we see around us on all levels of still, vegetative and animate (before the intervention of mankind, of course). And btw, this higher power is doing it very successfully (look at the results of this last event as I mentioned above – I.e. the caring & love which ensue), however, the price we are paying for this love & care is very heavy and extremely painful… What if we tried to live our lives with this same sensation of solidarity, connection, care and love which many of us are searching for now during these challenging times (like pathetic wounded and scared animals) EVERY DAY IN OUR LIVES!!!!???? out of our own conscious CHOICE, and not out of the necessity which such events force us to? Perhaps that would put us one step ahead of the game… perhaps such horrific events won’t be required in order to bring us together and we will finally attend to this important question: WHY? which the Divine power is so relentlessly forcing us to ask ourselves (and then to start acting on)?……”

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