Crime Scene Tape

As you may recall, recently, Philip Chism, a freshman at Danvers High School (Massachusetts), was charged as an adult with first-degree murder of his 24-year old math teacher Colleen Ritzer. I was left positively speechless by this news. But what left me most speechless was the fact that there still (at this writing) no motive mentioned. Not that a motive would make any difference in the case, but it made me wonder why a 14-year old boy – a child – would do such a heinous act the majority of adults wouldn’t commit, then go to a movie and dinner before getting caught.

There was speculation (so I’ve heard) of bullying; but is that a reason or a motive to kill a teacher that people loved (or even a teacher that everyone hated)?

Now, I’m not saying that bullying doesn’t exist or that people make too much of it. I know it’s a reality, and I know as a fact (first-hand, even) how debilitating it can be. I was bullied when I was younger. Newsflash: I’M GAY. But hasn’t the majority of the world bullied when we were younger? Anyone, who at any time displayed anything that was any bit different from the norm was picked on and bullied.

It doesn’t make it right, but somehow back then – and for millennia before that – kids were able and equipped to deal with the bullying. They avoided being together with those doing the bullying; or they ran away really fast; or they came up with elaborate bribing schemes using funny money from the Monopoly game and a lot of serious humor to talk their way out of a beating… (Wait; did I just give away too much?)

What it boils down to is this: The last thing we would have ever thought about doing is committing murder. We were way more creative than that.

What has happened to today’s children? Have they become this way because of something in the water? How is murder even an option for anyone, let alone a 14-year old child? Is it because their world is one of immediate gratification? Are they so bored with being able to get everything they want with the snap of the fingers (or the click of a mouse button) that it pushes them over the edge of reality?

Ten years ago, we never heard about murders done by children; and if we did, it was incredibly sensationalized because it was so rare to ever hear anything like that. Remember the trial of the Menendez brothers back in the early 90s? Yet today we hear of it altogether too frequently – children committing adult crimes – and I started wondering what could possibly bring each successive generation of children closer and closer to this insanity.

I could speculate that this generation has never known how to wait for something. They’ve never known a world without the Internet and have never had to walk to the nearest library to look something up. They’ve only ever known high-speed Internet connections and were never part of the world of dial-up. They don’t even know what it means to “dial” a phone, and have never had to wait till they got to a phone to call someone, because they all have their own mobile phones with them. They never had to take a picture with a film camera and wait until it was developed to see that they had their finger over the lens, or forgot to take the lens cap off, because they could take pictures with their phones and see the outcome and post it to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram immediately.

Unfortunately, they also don’t get a chance to experience anything like we did growing up. Could this be why they have this immediate need to kill – to experience something first-hand? Or is that just simplifying it too much?

It really sickens me (and scares me) that our society is slowly turning back into the lawless, gun-slinging towns of the wild, wild west (but with faster internet connections). Or should we just look closer at the water?