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What Causes April Tragedies?

School Attack Plots in April. Copycats or Coincidence?

Students at Chesterfield High School in South Carolina are arriving at school this morning to metal detectors and police presence following a weekend arrest of a student accused of plotting an attack on the school. The alleged mastermind, Ryan Schallenberger, 18, is due in court this afternoon for a bond hearing. He was arrested this weekend after his parents alerted police to the 10 pounds of ammonium nitrate that was delivered to their home and their discovery of a disturbing journal. Police said that he'd kept a journal for more than a year detailing his plans for a suicide attack and including maps of the school and that "he seemed to hate the world. He hated people different from him—the rich boys with good-looking girlfriends."

Earlier this month, a group of third graders in Georgia were discovered to have conceived of a plan to knock their teacher unconscious with a paperweight, bind her with toy handcuffs and duct tape, and then stab her with a steak knife. It seems as though the nine boys and girls divvied up tasks to carry out the plan, with one plotting to cover up the window while another would be assigned to clean up the mess. The students were discovered and have been suspended. These April plots were foiled but there's a huge list that weren't. To consider why,


April is a scary month. In the past 15 years, the month has seen the Virginia Tech massacre and the Columbine shootings, not to forget the Waco incident and the Oklahoma City bombing. All of these events happened within the same week of the month. Historically, both Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated during this month, which also marked the start of both the American Revolution and Civil War.

Do we perceive a cloud of tragedy over the month precisely because news of anniversaries of events like Virginia Tech meets new instances like the weekend arrest in South Carolina and prompts people to pay more attention to the possibility for coincidence? Or have these plots truly become a copycat tribute to atrocities that have come before? Some scientists think that the increased light during the month of April lifts the previously depressed into a manic state. Having had all winter alone with dark thoughts, the mentally disturbed awake with new motivation behind their rage.

Police in South Carolina say that in his journal, Schallenberger said he admired the two attackers who killed 13 people at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 before committing suicide. The Columbine attack happened nine years ago Sunday. Did the parents and police discover a copycat catastrophe just in time, or was it just a coincidence? Is it seasonal? What do you think is causing the plague of April?


Join The Conversation
KathleenxCouture KathleenxCouture 9 years
I don't think it is the gun accessibility that is the issue. I think that it's the discipline and stability of the family that is troubling these children. Support systems are crucial in families and more and more these children are left without support from their busy mothers and fathers. I think it is equally important that the parents provide interest in what their child engages in on a day-to-day basis and give their child attention. Parents are busier than ever now-a-days and often let their children do whatever they want, or the babysitter lets them do whatever they want. Children should be monitored until they are able to make responsible decisions for themselves and are able to show their parents that they are capable of such things.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I applaud the parents for turning their own child in, recognizing that he needed help. "kids today" have no discipline, no boundaries, its all or nothing, elitist, self deserving brats run amok
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I think in the past, the shooters have become too much of the focus in news stories. I understand it is so helpful to learn why they did what they did, but to me it seems that too much of the focus was on who the shooter was. I think that certainly gives kids ideas. The Virgina Tech shooter said he wanted to be famous in his videos, I think a lot of them have said similar things. I think there is a lot of lack of discipline for sure, but I also think that some kids see this as a way to be seen when they were invisible before. Many of these kids didn't get in trouble before, and "kept to themselves." We need to take away the stage. The media is giving them the platform. That will only happen when we as viewers turn off the coverage of these massacres when they discuss who the killer was. Sadly, the killers get much more screen time than the victims. As viewers, we have the power to change that.
I also agree with most of ya'll above. Lack of discipline, and BULLYING, I believe are very large parts of these attacks.
Well, all plots of this sort are copycats! When the media blows up these stories, everytime, it does nothing but satisfy the offenders in their graves. One of the main reasons these types of plots continue to occur, is because these people don't want to just kill themselves. They want to take as many with them as they can, so that CNN will give it air time for a week. Maybe, the media should stop advertising these stories, and we'll see a drop in the plots. It's stupid on the media's part to give the killers what they wanted.
saucymegstar saucymegstar 9 years
I am plenty ready for it to stop though! My birthday is April 19th-- OKC bombing, the day before the Columbine HS shooting, Branch Dividian, etc... I always approach the week with excitement and trepidation becaue of all that's gone on. I think those scientists you cited may be on to something but a fair amount of copycatting is likely in place. I am glad that this particular attack was prevented. Hooray for attentive parents and decisive action. I hope this boy gets the help he needs.
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
I understand that the government enforces things on parents. Some parents are creative with their children. Children that call the law and threaten their parents,maybe not know the dynamic of their actions. Parents can do what my aunt tells her sons, by reinforcing and letting them know what happens to them in the process of her being locked up and what will happen to their stuff. Sometimes, people just need to get more real with their kids. What happen to taking kids to the jails for scared straight visits and having people talk to your kids especially about their experiences (this helps if the family volunteers together).
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Whether it's April or any other month of the year the remedy is still the same. Parents need to be more attentive to their children. We collectively need to be more attentive to our youth.
Bettyesque Bettyesque 9 years
I agree Cine - the whole family dynamic has changed. Children are being raised the way society says is correct. Certain things just should not be governed.
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 9 years
Was Columbine really 9 years ago? I wasn't personally involved by any means, but for whatever reason that story really affected me back then. And actually rac, I've heard that one of their motivations for using that date was Hitler's birthday. I completely agree with the posts above about cultural differences and the government taking away your abilty to raise your children. There is such a huge difference between beating your children because you have issues and punishing your children for doing something dangerous and teaching them to respect you. My brother is a police officer and they have actually received 911 calls from kids who had their XBox priveledges taken away by their parents. There have been numerous studies pointing out how kids are increasing narcisistic (sp?).
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
Also, Hitler was born on April 20th. Could he be behind this?
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
lol sy, damn skippy.
syako syako 9 years
sex guns and YOUTUBE! ;)
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
lol kris good one. No the good kids don't get any publicity kris, remember it's not cool to do well in school and actually want to get an education and do something with yourself. Sex, guns and videotape, now that's living. why on earth would the media want to report on good, normal functioning kids when dysfunction sells so well.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
I agree nyara, he should be locked up. I wonder where those 3rd graders are from?
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
i agree with every single one of you! but remember we don't hear stories about the good kids. and the ones who are just average but will never go postal. Bratiness is inherited. I went to school with a girl who I will NEVER forget as long as I live. She was a "mean girl," the one i'll tell my daughters about if they ever have that problem. One day, my dad asked me what her last name was. I told him, and we made the connection that MY dad had grown up with HER dad and he was exactly the same way! It was so funny that my dad and I were both hassled by a father and daughter BRAT team.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
cine I can't agree with you more, your last comment is so so true.But this boy should not be released back into society. I feel that once you have the urge to kill and you plan it so systematically, it can only be a matter of time before you go through with it. And he needs to get over himself, any guy can get a good looking girl, he only needs a great sense of humour and to traet girls right. Creeps don't get any loving.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
And what is even worse is that the parents who truly abuse their children constantly get their children back into their homes. Abuse them until they are damaged beyond repair, THEN the government takes them away, and then nobody wants to adopt them, and the cycle starts all over again. It makes me sick.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
No joke nyara. It really happened. And most children in diapers, don't feel the swat, they hear the noise, and that is what scares them. Ugg... I really regret our parenting government. I can't believe people want our government to control even more of our lives.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
I am so afraid for our future when these kids with chips on their shoulders and an enormous sense of entitlement grow up...
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
Seriously cine they took his daughter away for that? I believe a child should not be abused, not be molested but I also believe in smacking and a parent's right to say no to a child. There is a big big big difference in child abuse and discipline a swat on the bottom does not in any way constitute child abuse. My niece is 2 and when she is a pain she gets a 2 finger smack on the bottom. She knows when to let loose and when to be a quiet kid.
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
Exactly CINE! I agree 100%
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
I agree syako. There's no more displine at all anymore. It's quite sad and annoying.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
"I don't know but I feel it just has to do with the whole idea of kids having "more rights" so to say than adults. They grow up feeling their power and knowing they can't be touched or smacked or disciplined in beyond much beyond the pathetic, "Johnny use your inside voice"." You hit the nail on the head Nyara. It has nothing to do with guns, it has to do with the fact that parents are powerless. In Washington a father got his daughter taken away from him because when she ran into the street he grabbed her and smacked her bottom, and told her not to do that. The people called the cops on him, and his daughter was taken away. In California, they are or at least were trying to outlaw spanking. SPANKING! Parents are not allowed to raise their children, and has now turned into a cycle of enabled and tv raised children.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
I agree 100% Syako... this is a def. a cultural difference.
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