The Newtown Tragedy: Boys Need Role Models Now More Than Ever

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About R. Todd Erkel


  1. Princeton University professor Katherine S. Newman, author of Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings, points out that, far from being “loners,” the killers are more likely to be aspiring “joiners” whose attempts at belonging fail.

    i had never seen that mentioned before, so thanks for relaying it

    • wellokaythen says:

      Yes, indeed. It’s become almost automatic to refer to a school shooter as a “loner” even when that is clearly not the case. The Columbine shooters were clearly not loners – a real loner does not create a Trenchcoat Mafia quasi-club with uniforms and then plan a conspiracy with another like-minded person. A real loner does not commit violence to get attention. Desperately seeking attention is NOT something a loner would do.

      The search for the DC sniper ten years ago was probably hampered by the police’s original profile of the shooter. He was supposed to be white (no), acting alone (no), and probably a loner out bragging to other guys about his shooting prowess (huh?). That’s right, he was supposed to be a gregarious loner desperate for attention. How does that work? That suggests to me that he was, in fact, not a loner.

      And, as for male role models, I have to agree that it is always better to have good ones than bad ones, but I don’t think modeling good behavior can prevent mental illness in other people. You can’t mentor away psychosis. Some good mentors can spot the warning signs and maybe prevent the worst case scenario, but role modeling is not a cure for crazy.

    • An ” aspiring “joiner whose attempts at belonging fail.” is a noveau loner.

      Is that really any better than a loner who wants to be a loner, or is it actually worse?

      Distinction without a difference.

  2. THANK YOU! I have had many of the same thoughts in the past.

  3. Let’s see …. Two responses to your article yet endless responses to the article about assault weapons advertisement. Your thoughts are similar to my own. Thank you for writing this.

  4. bill byrne says:

    Thank you Todd for another perceptive piece about men and what it means and should mean to be a man in today’s culture

  5. Your thoughts echo so many of my own – with youg children in school, I see the kids who have the potential to be ‘failed joiners’ regularly. What makes it even more sad is hearing parents facilitate the isolation by saying things like ‘he’s a bad kid – don’t play with him’ . It sends a horrible message. It seems we could ALL look around, step forward, and act as a mentor, friend, or connector – as adults I feel this is a responsibility.

  6. Read similar thoughts in this USA Today column: Guns don’t kill people — our sons do
    by Warren Farrell, “We need to find ways to stop the childhood injuries that lead boys to murder.”


  1. [...] The right conversation looks something like this.  And it is a conversation we don’t like to have in this country. [...]

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