Understanding Violence: The Virginia Tech University Shootings

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On April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho, a 23-year-old college student, shocked the nation when he perpetrated the deadliest shooting massacre in U.S. history. The violent rampage took place on the Virginia Tech University campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, where Cho was a senior majoring in English. Before turning the gun on himself and delivering a fatal gunshot to the head, Cho murdered more than 30 of his classmates and University faculty; numerous others were injured. In a strange twist, several days after the tragedy, a package determined to have been mailed by Cho during the shooting spree was received at NBC News in New York. The package contained photos of Cho posing with guns, as well as video clips and various pages of Cho’s writing. Portraying himself as a martyr avenger of the weak and defenseless, the targets of Cho’s angry ranting included wealthy students, bullies, Christianity, and society (Kleinfield, 2007). In the wake of tragedies like Virginia Tech, an automatic public response is to want immediate answers, explanations. It seems logical that something so extraordinarily awful and wrong must have been caused by an equally unusual and outrageous problem or anomaly. However, explaining heinous crimes of violence is not so straight-forward; understanding violent behavior involves multiple, and sometimes conflicting, theoretical perspectives and disciplines.
Crime causation began to be a focus of study in the rapidly developing biological and behavioral sciences during the 19th century. Early biological theories proposed that criminal behavior is rooted in biology and based on inherited traits. Cesare Lombroso (1836-1909), an Italian army prison physician, coined the term “atavism” to describe “the nature of the criminal”...

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...ment an integrative approach in a disjointed system of fragmented agencies and separate departments. In addition, examining violence through social development requires long term studies of development through life stages. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of crimes like the Virginia Tech murders, the pressure to re-act can outweigh the patience to act logically.

Works Cited

Gross, T. (2013, April 30). Criminologist believes violent behavior is biological. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2013/05/01/180096559/
Kleinfield, N. R. (2007, April 21). Before deadly rage. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/22
Loughan, A. (2012, July). Neurocognitive impacts for children of poverty and neglect. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/newsletter/2012/07
Schmalleger, F. (2009). Chapter 8. In Criminology today (5th ed.). Columbus, OH: Pearson.

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