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Press Review: Could the School Shooting Have Been Prevented?

Two days after an 18-year old shot himself dead and injured over 30 others, German editorials asked why the warning signs were ignored and whether adults are oblivious to the discontent of youths.

The gunman stormed the building with this gun and two others

"What is the reason for so much despair? What is the source of so much deeply-rooted hatred?" asked the daily Stuttgarter Nachrichten in its Wednesday edition. It chastised politicians for reacting in a knee-jerk fashion, providing ready-made answers without taking time to analyze the actual causes. The paper warned that it no longer sufficed to concentrate attention on children and teenagers, but that the adult world also needed attention. The adult sphere "is not only distinguished by maturity but also has plenty of examples of indifference and lacking awareness. How can signals be identified and cries of help recognized if people are no longer receptive to them?"

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung was equally baffled that nobody had seen the rampage coming. "How does a child who is on the ball, one who is even described as being of above average intelligence, become first a loner, then a living time bomb?" it pondered. It did not buy the argument that it was only a result of playing computer games, which "can indeed rouse violent fantasies but can also serve as a deterrent from violence." The paper suggested rather that a few more ingredients were necessary -- "bullying, loneliness, fear of the future" -- to lead to this explosion and asked why no one had consider what might happen after the young man had been summoned for illegal possession of weapons.

This picture of the young man was on his Web site

Indeed, the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung stated, there had been many indications pointing to his plan of revenge. "His fellow students were scared of him. They knew he hated school and were aware of his passion for violent games. His online persona wore combat gear and brandished weapons. Why did that not alert anybody?" the paper asked. "We have to make an effort to detect the potential violence of young people in time," it insisted.

Violent computer games provided the focus for Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel. "Nobody would claim killer games are good and enhance the lives of the players. They may be exciting. Freaks who cannot imagine their free time without them talk about team spirit. They describe games such as "Counter-Strike" as an extension of traditional board games -- chess with a harmless machine gun." However, the paper continued, "chess can also work without weapons. Moreover, soccer and rugby can promote team spirit as well as demonstrate how to deal with aggression so it does not build up." But this is only true "for those who feel more comfortable in normal reality than in the virtual world."

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