Kids kill only when they feel alienated, abused, hurt, isolated, unloved, unlovable, helpless and of little worth. Teachers and administrators on campus should use some of these words and any others that accurately and succinctly describe chronic behaviors on campus that show a student is speaking or behaving dangerously. Harboring these negative feelings does not make kids bad. In Kip's case, he was mentally unhealthy. The response he chose — to solve his problems with a loaded gun — was bad. Kids can be viewed as "good" to the extent that they are enabled to use, and actually do use, conflict-reduction strategies, anger management strategies, and nonviolent communication strategies in solving their array of problems, and in making moral determinations about right and wrong.
Good kids, like good drivers, occasionally get onto the wrong path, head in the wrong direction and need to be turned around and re-directed, especially when they are crying out for help, as was Kip Kinkel. His simple acts of reading aloud his plans for "killing everybody" and building a bomb were more than self-aggrandizing attention-getters: They were proofs of his inner torment and rage. He was calling attention to what his teachers, friends, and even parents could not see but which he painfully felt. So numbed with pain and inner suffering was he, apparently, that he just could not feel anything for the folks at home in his inner circle — his parents who dearly loved him — or the people at school in his outer circle. Totally ignored despite his radical tactics to gain attention, he was finally paid "attention" to after it was much too late.
Even though Kip seemed to want nothing more than to find audiences for his madcap verbal rhapsodizing about death and destruction, his teachers, and whoever else heard him, should have been apprehensive about him. Their heartbeats should have told them that good kids have a clear perspective and can control their interactions with and reactions to various social circumstances. Kip, though, was a kid who was deconstructing — cracking up — and announcing it. Everybody who listened to him undoubtedly thought he was crying "wolf"; nobody wanted to rat on or confront a kid about whom the common view, according to press accounts, was that he was too dumb and dorky to be dangerous. Nobody wanted to be ridiculed by peers for being too serious about Kip, everybody's favorite dork who, after all, was probably joking. None of Kip's teachers said or did anything about his verbal behavior. It should be noted that had he made his comments just once at any airport in his state, everybody within earshot would have been on instant alert and summoned the police.
Kids who kill always tip their hand; their telltale behaviors have been visible and observed by somebody long before they picked up a gun and used it to kill people. Kids who kill are not of one ethnicity, one economic or social class, or from one part of town. If you think they are, you'll miss it every time. The emotional pain and suffering, and the rejection and alienation that these kids feel spans all color, class and geographic boundaries. Kids who are capable of killing live in every state in the country. Failing to take seriously the signs of their imminent destruction that these kids put out there, will only enable them to carry out their insane desires.