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At the forefront of national discourse is yet another tragic school shooting. Children died. If you’re not angry as hell, you can believe I’m angry enough for you.

For the life of me, I don’t understand why the most prominent factor in American violence today eludes our address.

Why are so many of our boys becoming murderers?

Relative to school shootings, our young white men are overwhelmingly the most prominent perpetrators. Others have been so rarely involved in school shootings that it isn’t even worth studying. Why are our white boys doing this?

Among our young black boys, their rates of violent interactions with police as well as their perpetuating violence against others is grossly disproportionate.

What is happening – or what has happened – to our young men?

We’ve been offered an array of causes, to include mental health issues, fatherless homes, poverty, and guns -- but if it were simply these factors, why are they not equally affecting our girls? What combinations are causing boys to engage in the terrible killings we are seeing not only in our schools but on the streets of cities like Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans? Overwhelmingly most at the hands of our boys.

We have reams of papers written on how our modern school system almost wholly ignores the biology inherent in the way boys learn, interact and even cope with their frustrations and anxiety.

We know that boys repeatedly lag behind girls in almost every educational indicator. They have lower grades, higher dropout rates and seem to have become a near-extinct species on many college campuses -- all while the broader society says “education” is important, and all while technical/trade skills (most attractive to boys) are frowned upon.

We could argue that “zero tolerance” policies in schools targeted “boy behavior.” The well-intended “no bullying” campaigns themselves may even inadvertently target how boys manage their natural energy. And does anyone really know how the public school systems actually deal with “discipline issues”?

If boys are (knowingly or unknowingly) systematically targeted and restricted in their natural processes of interaction and play in our school systems, couldn’t this ultimately lead to a sense of powerlessness? Wouldn’t that create in the mind of a young man a sense of hopelessness? Isn’t hopelessness a predictor of violence?

School violence does not simply seem to be just school violence. Although, our schools can certainly be a place where we begin to look for answers to the growing violence among our young men.

Keith Pounds of Columbia is a former U.S. Navy hospital corpsman and holds an MBA with a concentration in organizational psychology.


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