The Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting

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The Stoneman Douglas High School shooting occurred on February, 14 2018. On the fateful day, nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz entered the school with a concealed gun and later opened fire indiscriminately, killing seventeen people and injuring seventeen others. The debate of mass shootings has been escalating over the recent years as it becomes evident that the number of people willing to execute innocent and unsuspecting individuals is increasing. Scholars and researchers in behavioral science blame social influence for this escalation in mass murders. Other theories argue that psychological anomalies lead to deviant behaviors.

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Such behaviors, if untamed, eventually lead the individual to commit acts of more intensive violence such as the case for Nikolas Cruz. In any case, it is apparent that the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting portrays an extremist’s social, psychological, and emotional responses. Investigations after the shooting offered an illustrative social, emotional, and psychological profile for Nikolas Cruz.

According to Turkewitz, Mazzei, and Burch, Cruz resembled any other nineteen-year-old high school student outwardly (1). The outlook of mass murderers can be deceiving considering that most of them have difficulty fitting in the society and observing its norms and values. In school mass shootings, the perpetrators are normally students who are discriminated by their counterparts and society. Cruz fits in the profile of mass shooters, as most of them have been white men. The white supremacy and perceptiveness about life and death majorly influenced Cruz. It was reported that he had wanted to join the military, mainly because he desired to die just as the people he had killed. The modern society has significantly affected the behavior and perceptiveness of people, especially the teenagers who are trying to find their place and characters. In some cases, an individual does not believe that he or she can be a valuable member of the society. The effect of such perceptions about individual role in society has been known to create extreme personalities. In the case of Cruz, the mentioned aspect led to the loss of positive connections with other people and the lack of empathy.

Behavioral therapy attempts to examine the prevalence of such tendencies in an individual, and to tame them as early as possible. However, in some cases, the individuals concerned dismiss such threats by assuming that the affected person has not done anything irrational yet. On the issue of social influence, it is evident that Cruz held extremist views with regard to how he viewed Blacks, Muslims, Jews, and homosexuals. Based on his hatred for these distinct social groups, it is evident that Cruz believed he was a better person, and that those who he thought were not worth living were supposed to die (Turkewitz, Mazzei, and Burch 1). This aspect of human behavior portrays an extreme self-righteousness. A case whereby a person feels that they have to eliminate every person they do not like is hardly an individual problem. Based on social influence theories, it can be argued that the emergence of extremist views on social media facilitated the act in many ways. First, Cruz was active in social media through critics and threats. Second, many incidences similar to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting also involve social media postings. Therefore, this age of mass murderers seems to connect in the social media platforms where they are brainwashed by being given a false sense of purpose. Based on this case, Cruz had for many years believed that dying the right way meant first killing a lot of people.

He lived by this code and eventually reached a breaking point where he executed his plan. Another common aspect between the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and other similar shootings is the fact that the perpetrators have no remorse. In the shooting, Cruz did not discriminate despite his earlier rants about hating specific groups of people. In other incidences of school shootings in the United States, the perpetrators portray a similar attitude whereby they feel that they have accomplished something by executing the murders. In psychological study, this behavior also stems from the social influence whereby the individual wants to appear irrational and emotionless, yet in real sense, their profiles suggest that their actions are rational and planned. Various social issues come into play in an attempt to understand the motives and influences of a mass murderer. In other cases, the aspect of social class has been assumed to create negative emotions from students who feel that they do not have as much as their colleagues. In the case for Cruz, the death of his foster parents seems to have triggered his extremist views. Combined with his apparent belief in White supremacist’s ideologies, Cruz is considered as having a lot of difficulty processing social realities. In other mass shootings in U.S. schools, the perpetrators portray feelings of rejections or not fitting in the social environment. Most of these teenage shooters are withdrawn, and though they are active in spreading their extremist ideologies on social media, outwardly they are scared of being humiliated or bullied (Turkewitz, Mazzei, and Burch 1). Therefore, social influence plays a significant role in triggering the emotions of extremists such as Nicolas Cruz.

Work Cited

Turkewitz, Julie, Patricia Mazzei, and Audra Burch. Suspect Confessed to Police That He Began

Shooting Students In the Hallways.’ New York Times. (Feb 14, 2018).

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The Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. (2019, Sep 26). Retrieved from