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A good starting point might be that that’s the way human beings work…..

I’d been paying a lot of attention to gun violence over the last many years since Sandy Hook, which happened when my kids were in elementary school and happened about 10 miles from my house. When Marjory Stoneman Douglas happened, I just started asking the obvious question, which had never really occurred to me before: Why is it boys who are doing this? Not just these big, horrible shootings, but the day-to-day violence that we see so often in our lives. It’s almost always boys. Why?

Sexually dimorphic species, a certain specialisation between the genders, violence being one of them….

25 thoughts on “A good starting point might be that that’s the way human beings work…..”

  1. Yes but boys have always been boys, and they didn’t used to shoot the school up 40-50 years ago, despite probably more easy access to guns than today. Something has changed, and personally I’d point the finger at the obsession (particularly in the States) with medicating children for just being what we we used to call ‘a bit of a mixed up kid, who’ll grow out of it’.

  2. Couple of possibilities :
    1. Boys are not catered for in the current US (or any country) schooling system.
    2. Boys are increasingly being drugged when they display male typical behaviours
    3. Lack of a father figure or some other male who will set boundaries. Boys like to push boundaries and if they don’t encounter one, their behaviour will escalate.


  3. Well, I tried to read the reference, but I only managed to skim through it.

    But my guess would be the continual effort to make boys into girls. It just really doesn’t take well.

  4. gunker: with the continual repeated introduction of people in the media as “X, who is a single mother”, you’d think that that “standard” family unit is a single woman with children.

    Some of John Varley’s stories explored this sort of society. “Father? Who knows their father? That’s a term you use with farm animals.”

  5. As Margaret MacMillan explains (War: How Conflict Shaped Us): “Violence has always been central to the human condition, triggered by greed, ambition, emotions and ideas.” She also makes the point that women, too, have on occasion been among the most enthusiastic warmongers.

  6. Sexually dimorphic results in far fewer girls being able to beat up boys in the same class. When they try and fail it doesn’t make the headlines.
    That’s why it’s (almost) always boys’ violence that you read about.
    You don’t need to postulate that boys are more aggressive.

    Of course gunker is right in that these are contributing factors to the increase in violence that Jim observes, but that is a separate question to “why is it always boys’ violence that we read about?” The reporting bias is the key.

  7. Umm.. All data to date indicates that human females are much more agressive than males, especially amongst themselves.
    It’s simply that their preferred method of warfare is not expressed as physical violence, but rather as psychological abuse.

    Hell.. It’s even the most common trope in every single highschool-themed movie ever made…

  8. @Grikath I was going to say the same thing then saw your comment. Very true. Watch women fight each other and they can be very viscous whereas when men fight each other then tend to be dance about throwing punches. Why you hear about mass shootings it is down to psychology and physiology. Girls will do their rage against society one way, generally using psychological techniques to overcome their physical weakness. However, weak boys will use a weapon to gain the advantage.

  9. Bloke in North Dorset

    Boys mat=y be more physically violent but girls specialise in psychological violence and they are particularly viscous when they gang up on other girls.

    Boys may have a fight to settle their differences and then they’ll shake hands and often become friends, girls’ violence rarely ceases.

    To talk about school shootings is to make outliers the norm.

  10. Bloke in North Dorset


    Yes but boys have always been boys, and they didn’t used to shoot the school up 40-50 years ago, despite probably more easy access to guns than today.

    I was listening to Ian Dale talking about his childhood recently and I think this will give you a wry smile.

    He was brought up on a farm in Essex and when he was 16 he went to a school fancy dress do dressed as a gamekeeper complete with 12-bore shotgun and ammunition belt with live ammunition. He said none of the teachers batted an eyelid.

    When I told Mrs BiND the story she was horrified until I pointed out that in a community like that most 16-year-old boys will have had a good grounding in gun usage and safety and it would be quite normal, well relatively normal, to see them with guns she sort of understood.

    Now that really couldn’t happen today.

  11. I’d say gunger is on the money here. In the olden days, no mobile phones, no computer games. There were woods and trees where one could play Tarzan, build tree huts, and still make it home in time to watch Fury. This one:

    These boys nowadays they don’t know they’re born!

  12. @BiND

    I’m always surprised by the number of people (generally townies) who say things like “we don’t have guns in the UK” or “guns are banned here”, having never seen them in real life. I think they may be vaguely aware of their uses in agriculture and hunting. But apparently never walked past a gun shop (you don’t even have to go that rural to see one) or know any mates with a gun licence or been in a room where someone keeps their guns. One of the things about homogeneity in your social circle I think. Something in the region 1% of Brits have a gun, Dunbar’s number is 150ish, so if people’s social ties were perfectly mixed up, most of us would know 1 or 2 people with guns. But I suspect that more than half of people do not (closely) know anybody with a gun, since ownership is so concentrated in rural communities.

  13. “Yes but boys have always been boys, and they didn’t used to shoot the school up 40-50 years ago”

    It’s perhaps a copy-cat effect, the result of publicity. Remember Dunblane and Hungerford – presumably based on publicity about American shootings.

    As for people with guns: I owned a rifle for a while – inherited from my father. It was more trouble than it was worth so I sold it. Mind you, I did get in a shooting team as a fresher – apparently there was a shortage of people who knew how to shoot.

  14. Bloke in North Dorset


    They’d be surprised to learn that there are guns in urban environments. There’s an excellent clay range in West London (and many others in and around London) where a very good friend was a member. He kept his guns at home and I was one of his police sponsors

  15. @BiND

    they are particularly viscous when they gang up on other girls

    Made me smile quite a lot this evening. Thanks.

  16. I’ve been paying attention to gun violence in the United States over the last few weeks and months, watching leftists thugs rioting and destroying people’s lives, and come to the conclusion that there isn’t enough of it.

  17. Fifteen or more years ago my old neighbourhood in South London was visibly changing, not just the demographics but also in terms of general behaviour. When out of an evening I felt reasonably safe – as a lad, most of the aggravation you experience tends to be in your teenage years or your 20s. What was then becoming evident, however, was a rise in violence between gangs of bar-hopping young women who were out for the night. Mrs G. was always more likely to be assaulted than I was – women aching to make eye contact with her so they could kick off a confrontation.

  18. It’s just run of the mill lefty cognitive dissonance.

    We are all blank slates without original sin but men are innately violent.
    There is no such thing as race but everyone is oppressed by whitey.
    Sex is a social construct and there are no differences between men and women, in fact the concept of male and female dones’t even exist, but women are oppressed.
    Free speech is important but you can’t say that…

    continue ad infinitem.

  19. Justin – Me too 🙂

    Bernie – “When out of an evening” “Mrs G. was always more likely to be assaulted than I was” – Bloody hell……

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