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Profile of a Shooter - School and community intervention and prevention initiatives.

By Cris Rowan, Pediatric Occupational Therapist


Adam LanzaGuns, video games, isolation, and mental illness have all been implicated as causal factors in the recent school shooting by Adam Lanza in Newtown, Connecticut. Intervention initiatives for school shootings, such as arming teachers, or enlisting full time police presence, have been proposed for schools both in the U.S. and Canada without any evidence showing they would keep children safe, and some evidence showing they would to do more harm than good. Prevention initiatives such as improved gun control and video game regulation are now at a Senate level in the U.S. This article will provide readers with historical and current research on the impact of violent media on aggression, report what we already know about past shooters, and propose a number of initiatives for prevention of future mass shootings in our schools and communities. 
  

  
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Sedentary, neglected, isolated, and overstimulated, the new millennium child can no longer pay attention and learn. Zone'in Products are designed by an occupational therapist to enhance child development and learning, ensuring successful futures.

 

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Virtual Child - The terrifying truth about what technology is doing to children

Virtual Child

By Cris Rowan, pediatric occupational therapist.

 
Virtual Child documents the impact technology has had on the developing child, and proposes tools and techniques to manage balance between activities children need for growth and success with technology use. 

Need more info? Visit www.virtualchild.ca

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About the Author
Cris Rowan is a pediatric occupational therapist committed to enhancing child health and academic performance. Well known activist, speaker, sensory specialist and author, Cris is the "Go To" expert on child learning, development and technology overuse. Cris has provided over 200 workshops for health and education professionals, and is currently developing the Creating Sustainable Futures Program for a First Nations Community.

 

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Instructor training for Foundation Series Workshops places pediatric occupational therapists on the cutting edge as experts in the field of technology's impact on child development.

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Innovative team-based approach to manage balance between activities children need to grow and succeed with technology use.

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Research Review

In school shootings, patterns and warning signs
By Katherine Newman, Special to CNN on December 17, 2012
Katherine S. Newman, author of "Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings" reports that bucolic country towns are locus for most school shootings in U.S. Newman goes on to say that shootings are often planned far in advance and that attackers often hint at plans. Newman states that shooters long to fit in, and may perform mass killings in an attempt to gain peers' attention and acceptance. Consequently, Newman suggests that we must provide settings for children to confide in adults.
 

Replaying the game: hypnagogic images in normals and amnesics.

 By Stickgold R, Malia A, Maguire D, Roddenberry D, O'Connor M. for Science on 2000 Oct 13;290(5490):350-3.
Participants playing the computer game Tetris reported intrusive, stereotypical, visual images of the game at sleep onset. Three amnesic patients with extensive bilateral medial temporal lobe damage produced similar hypnagogic reports despite being unable to recall playing the game, suggesting that such imagery may arise without important contribution from the declarative memory system.

  

The Perfect Storm for a Killer: Video game addiction and violent video games

By Andrew Doan, MD, PhD for MedRounds on December 22, 2012

The perfect storm for the formation of a killer is mental illness combined with violent video games. A child addicted to anything is mentally ill, whether it is an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or video games.

 

Effects of Prosocial, Neutral, and Violent Video Games on College Students' Affect

By Saleem M, Anderson C, Gentile D for Aggressive Behavior, May 1, 2012

Prosocial games reduced state hostility and increased positive state affect. Violent video games had the opposite effects. These effects were moderated by trait physical aggression.

  

A longitudinal study of the association between violent video game play and aggression among adolescents.

Willoughby T, Adachi PJ, Good M. for Developmental Psychology, 2012 Jul;48(4):1044-57

Sustained violent video game play was significantly related to steeper increases in adolescents' trajectory of aggressive behavior over time. Moreover, greater violent video game play predicted higher levels of aggression over time, after controlling for previous levels of aggression, supporting the socialization hypothesis.

  

Longitudinal effects of violent video games on aggression in Japan and the United States.

Anderson CA, Sakamoto A, Gentile DA for Pediatrics 2008 Nov;122(5):e1067-72.

These longitudinal results confirm earlier experimental and cross-sectional studies that had suggested that playing violent video games is a significant risk factor for later physically aggressive behavior and that this violent video game effect on youth generalizes across very different cultures. As a whole, the research strongly suggests reducing the exposure of youth to this risk factor.

  

The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviors, and school performance.

Gentile DA, Lynch PJ, Linder JR, Walsh DA. For Journal of Adolescence 2004 Feb;27(1):5-22.

Six hundred and seven 8th- and 9th-grade students from four schools participated. Adolescents who expose themselves to greater amounts of video game violence were more hostile, reported getting into arguments with teachers more frequently, were more likely to be involved in physical fights, and performed more poorly in school.
 

Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in eastern and western countries: a meta-analytic review.
Anderson CA, Shibuya A, Ihori N  for Psychology Bulletin on 2010 Mar;136(2):151-73

The evidence strongly suggests that exposure to violent video games is a causal risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, and aggressive affect and for decreased empathy and prosocial behavior.

 

Metastudy: Violent video games raise aggression

By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore for CNET on March 2, 2010

A study out of Iowa of 130 research reports on more than 130,000 subjects worldwide concludes that exposure to violent video games results in more aggressive, less empathetic youths.

 

 1972 Surgeon General warning about violent media content causing antisocial behaviour

In 1972, the Surgeon General issued the following warning on violent TV programs: "It is clear to me that the causal relationship between televised violence and antisocial behavior is sufficient to warrant appropriate and immediate remedial action...There comes a time when the data are sufficient to justify action. That time has come."

Steinfeld, J. (1972). Statement in hearings before Subcommittee on Communications of Committee on Commerce (United States Senate, Serial #92-52, pp. 25-27). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

 

Pathological Video-Game Use Among Youth Ages 8 to 18: A National Study

By Douglas Gentile for Psychological Science on December 2012

A Harris poll surveyed a randomly selected sample of 1,178 American youth ages 8 to 18. About 8% of video-game players in this sample exhibited pathological patterns of play. Pathological gamers spent twice as much time playing as nonpathological gamers and received poorer grades in school; pathological gaming also showed comorbidity with attention problems. Pathological status significantly predicted poorer school performance even after controlling for sex, age, and weekly amount of video-game play.

 

Substance-induced psychotic disorder

Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders 2003

Prominent psychotic symptoms (i.e., hallucinations and/or delusions) determined to be caused by the effects of a psychoactive substance is the primary feature of a substance-induced psychotic disorder. A substance may induce psychotic symptoms during intoxication (while the individual is under the influence of the drug) or during withdrawal (after an individual stops using the drug).

 

Prescription psychotropic medication histories of shooters prior to 2012 (excerpted from www.ssristories.com).

Jeff Weise, age 16, was taking 60 mg of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather's girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.
 
Eric Harris, age 18, was on Luvox when he killed twelve classmates and a teacher in Littleton, Colorado. Both Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot themselves. 15 dead, 23 wounded. Klebold's medical records were sealed.
 
Kip Kinkel, age 15, was withdrawing from Prozac when he shot 22 classmates and both his parents. 
 
Shawn Cooper, age 15, was taking Ritalin when he fired a shotgun at school. 
 
Elizabeth Bush, age 14, was on Prozac when she shot at fellow students in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, wounding one. 
 
Mitchell Johnson, age 13, was taking an unspecified psych drug when he shot at fellow students in Jonesboro, Arkansas. 5 dead, many others wounded.
 
T.J. Solomon, age 15, was taking Ritalin when he shot six classmates in Conyers, Georgia. 
 
Jason Hoffman, age 18, was on Effexor and Celexa when he wounded five students at his Granite Hills high school, El Cajon, California.
Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, was on Paxil (which he said caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.
 
Steven Kazmierczak, age 27, shot and killed five people and wounded 16 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. He had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. 
 
Robert Hawkins, age 19, killed eight people and wounded five before committing suicide in an Omaha mall. He had been on antidepressants and Valium. 
 
Asa Coon, age 14, shot and wounded four students at his school before taking his own life. He was on the antidepressant Trazodone. 
 
Seung-Hui Cho, the shooter in the Virginia Tech Massacre in which 33 were killed and 29 were injured, was on an antidepressant pill but neither his toxicology reports nor his recent medical history were ever released to the public. 
 
Jon Romano, age 16, shot a teacher with a shotgun. He had been taking "medication for depression".

News Articles
   

Sandy Hook Shooter Lanza Left Little For Investigators To Trace
By Dave Altimari on December 19, 2012 for The Hartford Courant
Lanza appears to have spent much of his time during the weeks before the shooting in the basement of the home he shared with his mother Nancy, playing violent video games on his computer. Lanza had thousands of dollars worth of video games and preferred to play on his computer with other anonymous gamers, investigators said. 
 

Video Games Targeted By Senate in Wake Of Sandy Hook Shooting

By Amanda Turkel on December 19, 2012 for Huffington Post
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has introduced one of Congress' first pieces of legislation related to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut: a bill to study the impact of violent video games on children.
 

Connecticut town holds drive to collect, destroy video games
By Catherine Cai for Tom's Guide on January 3, 2013
Southington, a town in Connecticut about 30 miles away from Newtown, is holding a drive dubbed the "Violent Video Games Return Program", which offers up a $25 gift certificate for non-violent forms of entertainment in exchange for violent videogames.
 

The Effects of Video Games on Children: What Parents Need to Know

By Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D in Pediatrics for Parents
The conclusion I draw from the accumulated research is that the question of whether video games are "good" or "bad" for children is oversimplified. Playing a violent game for hours every day could decrease school performance, increase aggressive behaviors, and improve visual attention skills. Instead, parents should recognize that video games can have powerful effects on children, and should therefore set limits on the amount and content of games their children play. In this way, we can realize the potential benefits while minimizing the potential harms.
 

Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings
By Ruth Ann Atchley, David L. Strayer and Paul Atchley for PLOS on Dec. 12, 2012
Workers who spent 3 days in nature without technology scored 50% higher on tests of creative reasoning that their co-workers. 
 

After tragedy, brain needs to heal

By Deepak Chopra, Special to CNN on December 18, 2012
Brain trauma causes abnormal activity in at least three areas of the brain. The amygdala, responsible for emotions, is over-activated. The hippocampus, responsible for short-term memory, starts to recycle the traumatic event obsessively. The prefrontal cortex, especially in the area that mediates emotions, becomes weaker. The overall result is that you can't stop reliving the traumatic event and feeling its impact, while your ability to get past your emotions is lessened.
 

Facebook launches first person shooter game

Facebook offers the game for free with understanding that players will spend a lot of money in-game. Game can be played anywhere, anytime on a smartphone.
 

Silencing the Smartphone

By Tanya Mohn for The New York Times on December 31, 2012
Atos, an international information technology company, plans to phase out all e-mails among employees by the end of 2013 and rely instead on other forms of communication.

 

Film Clips

 

Tetris Effect and Video Game Violence: Bad combo for some
Dr. Andrew Doan, ophthalmologist, neuroscientist and author of "Hooked on Games" talks about video games and violent behavior. 
 

Ohio 3rd graders must learn to read or repeat the year
A 8:17 minute PBS News Hour clip profiling why 14 states have adopted a retention policy for children who are unable to read at the end of grade 3. Cris Rowan comments that the foundation for literacy is printing, and children who struggle with reading, also can't print. With average teacher instruction for printing in primary grades at 13 minutes per day (Graham S 2008), how can we expect these children to read?

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Zone'in Programs Inc. 2013
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