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"Teaching Kids To Kill"
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By Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
Phi Kappa Phi National Forum, Fall 2000, 2500 words

Authors note: This was published in Phi Kappa Phi “National Forum,” in their Fall 2000 issue. "National Forum is one of the most prestigious, interdisciplinary, academic journals. An earlier version was published in “Christianity Today,” “Saturday Evening Post,” “US Catholic,” “Hinduism Today,” and many other US publications, and it was translated and published in periodicals in nine different languages. I am the copyright holder, and I authorize reproduction and distribution of this article by the readers of this web page.

A Case Study: Paducah, Kentucky
Michael Carneal, the 14-year-old killer in the Paducah, Kentucky school shootings, had never fired a real pistol in his life. He stole a .22 pistol, fired a few practice shots, and took it to school. He fired eight shots at a high school prayer group, hitting eight kids, five of them head shots and the other three upper torso (Grossman & DeGaetana, 1999).

I train numerous elite military and law enforcement organizations around the world. When I tell them of this achievement they are stunned. Nowhere in the annals of military or law enforcement history can we find an equivalent "achievement."

Where does a 14-year-old boy who never fired a gun before get the skill and the will to kill? Video games and media violence.

  • A Virus of Violence..........The per capita murder rate doubled in this country between 1957 --when the FBI started keeping track of the data--and 1992.
  • Killing Unnaturally..........Just as the army is conditioning people to kill, we are indiscriminately doing the same thing to our children, but without the safeguards.
  • The Methods in this Madness: Brutalization..........Brutalization is designed to break down your existing mores and norms and to implement a new set of values that embrace destruction, violence, and death as a way of life.
  • Classical Conditioning..........Classical conditioning is like the famous case of Pavlov's dogs you learned about in Psychology 101.
  • Operant Conditioning..........The military and law enforcement community have made killing a conditioned response.
  • Role Models........... No matter what someone has done, if you put his picture on TV, you have made him a celebrity, and someone, somewhere, will emulate him.
  • Unlearning Violence..........What is the road home from the dark and lonely place to which we have traveled?
  • Fighting Back: Education, Legislation, Litigation..........The following list of nonviolent video games has been developed by The Games Project.

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Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, and Conflict, Volume 3, p.159
© 1999 by Academic Press. All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.


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