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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid