News / USA

As Newtown Mourns, Question of 'Why' Lingers

Jeanne Walker walks through an overflowing memorial to the shooting victims, Newtown, Connecticut, December 20, 2012.  Jeanne Walker walks through an overflowing memorial to the shooting victims, Newtown, Connecticut, December 20, 2012.
x
Jeanne Walker walks through an overflowing memorial to the shooting victims, Newtown, Connecticut, December 20, 2012.
Jeanne Walker walks through an overflowing memorial to the shooting victims, Newtown, Connecticut, December 20, 2012.
As residents of Newtown, Connecticut, bury their dead — six teachers and 20 children killed by a gunman who shot his way into a grade-school classroom — much of the world has been watching.
 
"People from Japan, Cairo, Egypt, France, Poland... everybody even from all over the United States has been here," says firefighter Anthony Carpenter, standing outside Sandy Hook Elementary School.
 
But despite the global outpouring of emotion, one question remains universally inescapable: How could 20-year-old Adam Lanza, or anyone, kill children so young?
 
On the very same day of the attack, parents of students at Chenpeng Village Primary School in Henan province, China, were grappling with the exact same question as 22 of their own children lay wounded in hospital recovery rooms. A knife-wielding 36-year-old man set upon the kids in a frightening replay of knife and cleaver attacks that are only too fresh in the minds of Chinese parents.
 
According to retired FBI profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole, the choice of young victims can say a lot about the perpetrators.
 
"These are very young children, and so young that they would not pose a threat to the shooter whatsoever," she says of the Newtown attack. "Easy, also, to control."
 
Perhaps more disturbingly, O'Toole says Lanza may have known precisely why he chose young victims.
 
"If you kill children this young, you guarantee that you will get notoriety, and it will be international and you will basically shut down the world for a period of time," she says. "The only way he [Lanza] could have made this worse would be to have [the victims] ... holding puppies and kittens."
 
While countries such as Argentinea, Azerbaijan, Yemen, Scotland, Norway and Finland are no strangers to targeted killings of young students, war-torn Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan have witnessed many, the most recent of which — October's Taliban shooting of a 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai — has also drawn international attention.
 
But O'Toole warns against drawing too many parallels.
 
"You've got different motives and even though you have the same result, you may have different personalities," she says. "The same results but different personality make-ups of the offender."
 
According to the American Psychological Association's Dr. Elizabeth Carll, who works with the United Nations on children and trauma, there is also another key difference.
 
"In situations where a child is living in a war zone, so to speak, it may not be so surprising to experience violence," she says. "It is still very traumatic, and obviously recovery and support is necessary."
 
But the shock value, she adds, is constant and undifferentiated.
 
"Certainly the pain and suffering is no different whether it is in China, the Middle East or the U.S.," says Carll.
 
But in Newtown, Connecticut, there is now only that grief — and the knowledge that no explanation of why will ever be good enough.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid