I was in college when Columbine happened, and in my sociology class, we sat down and had a very serious discussion about what the root causes were. Some of the students just simply parroted whatever the media was saying, and then others, like myself, took a very different approach.
In the aftermath of Columbine, everyone was so quick to look at guns, video games, and music. To me, those are convenient targets that avoid the real issue. Casting blame at the entertainment industry, or at firearms, makes people feel like they're making a difference without actually looking at whether or not society itself is to blame.
You see, the same kids who torment others at school, whether physically or psychologically, are probably being raised by adults who were bullies themselves at that age. Indeed, the parents of such children are probably bullies as adults when it comes to the workplace. When teachers and administrators witness this type of behavior, as was the case at Columbine, and do nothing, they become part of the problem.
With very very few exceptions, I believe that people are born with a desire to do the right thing. I don't believe that people are born to be dangerous and violent. Those are learned traits from ones upbringing. When you suffer through years of abuse, having people treat you as less than human, and you see authority figures doing nothing to stop it (and worse, punishing you for defending yourself) you eventually believe that your life is worthless.
Well..how many kids take their own life each year because of bullying? Apparently, quite a lot, since sociologists coined the term "bullycide" in 2001.http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/bullying-and-suicide.html
According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide claims the lives of nearly 4,400 young people in America every year. Now...suppose that only 1% of those were as a direct result of being bullied. If studies in the United Kingdom are any indicator, bullying is probably a factor in 1/2 of all youth suicides, but even at 1% that would still be 44 deaths per year due to bullying, which is nearly three times the number who died at Columbine. Can you imagine the national outrage that would follow if massacres like Columbine happened three times a year?
What I find the most tragic about the whole situation was that it wasn't until a massacre took place that people even discussed bullying. There were no doubt hundreds of young people over the years whose lives were lost when they could no longer withstand the abuse, and yet their cries went unnoticed. There were no moments of silence, no candles lit, no ribbons tied around trees, and no teddy bears laid at the school steps. Out of sight, out of mind.