Thursday, June 18, 2015
David Cullen’s response denying bullying connection to Columbine
In 2010 I reposted a blog that was originally posted the previous year, Does child abuse and bullying lead to more violence? on Open Salon which has recently closed. This included a comment from Dave Cullen's book, which I refuted, "There's no evidence that bullying led to murder, but considerable evidence it was a problem at Columbine High." (p.158) A few weeks after that I noticed That Dave Cullen was also on Open Salon and decided to inform him that I had written about him on the same forum so that he would have the opportunity to respond if he saw fit.
I was surprised when he responded immediately thanking me with no further response; this happened so fast I couldn't help but wonder if he had time to read my post. A few days later I saw the first of three posts from him that had related material on Open Salon and they were cross-posted on his own web page which is still up. I asked again about it and it turned into a public discussion that was available on-line until a month an a half ago when Open Salon closed and removed all data after giving people a chance to save what they wanted.
I'm sure some would disagree, including Dave Cullen, but I thought it demonstrated obvious denial of a major part of the contributing causes for violence, so I saved the conversation in it's entirety and posted it below along with links to the original posts which are still on Dave Cullen's other blog.
A few months after this conversation took place there was additional research that showed that child abuse leads to bullying and escalating violence which I covered in Child abuse and bullying link in study long over due, although this didn't address Dave Cullen's remarks directly it did provide additional support for the claims that I made that bullying was part of the contributing causes for the massacre.
One of the strongest claims that Dave Cullen mentioned was that there was no evidence that bullying was connected to the massacre, yet I mentioned one source after another that included evidence of bullying being related, this is included in the Wikipedia entry: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, Bullying; the same article also includes another subsection which partially contradicts this conclusion based partly on Dave Cullen's research and one of his leading sources, Robert Hare, Wikipedia: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, Psychological analysis
This essentially means that there are contradictory versions within the same article.
Robert Hare was one of the leading sources cited by Dave Cullen for his claims during this conversation; at the time I wasn't familiar with him but I did a search of one of his books, "Without Conscience," and found a statement that actually supported my claims. It wasn't until later that I took a closer look, including reading the whole book and some other material from Robert Hare, and found that he also made contradictory claims that supported Dave Cullen's position. When I read this book, though I found that it had serious problems with it, some of which I went into more detail in Children Psychopaths? And Mitt Romney’s Bullying History. Robert Hare is often in as much denial as Dave Cullen and a surprising number of people the traditional media and political establishment consider "experts."
He has resorted to legal action to suppress criticism, of his work, at least for a while, and there are enormous problems with it; it is hard to imagine why he is considered an expert at all, yet a lot of people still accept his credentials.
One of the claims that Dave Cullen repeated over and over again was that the researchers I cited didn't do original research specifically into Columbine. Even if they didn't look directly into it they did establish an overwhelming case to demonstrate that bullying and child abuse leads to escalating violence on a routine basis. At the time I didn't attempt to refute this, but later found out that Barbara Coloroso was from Littleton Colorado and was in a good position to do direct research. She cited some examples which indicated that it was part of the problem.
It might make some people wonder why, if she were such a good adviser, she didn't advise the people from her own community better to avoid this disaster in the first place. I haven't had the opportunity to ask her but the coverage about Columbine indicates that a lot of the people in that area might be highly religious and this is the same area where James Dobson and related organizations have done a lot of their work. I suspect that a lot of people from that area are much more inclined to accept his teaching although it is no more competent than Robert Hare's as I explained in Dobson’s Indoctrination Machine. Regrettably I suspect that if more people were able to sort through the incompetent researchers like Robert Hare and James Dobson, who is considered more of a religious preacher than an academic researcher, then many of these disasters could have been avoided.
The silver lining of that assumption is that in the future we could do just that.
Some additional information is also available about Brooks Brown, who was mentioned in the discussion as someone I think does much better reporting than Dave Cullen, from Friend of Columbine Killers Still Seeking Answers
The following is the original discussions as they appeared in 2011:
Joran van der Sloot & Bethany Storro help illuminate Columbine killers 09/21/2015
Enough school shooters; Time to face depression 09/28/2010
Half our kids admit to bullying—the worse part 10/27/2010
These are the three original URLs for the copy that was previously on Open Salon; however unless someone has access to Google Archives or a similar web recording source, they will now redirect to Salon:
Joran van der Sloot & Bethany Storro illuminate Columbine 09/21/2010 http://open.salon.com/blog/dave_cullen/2010/09/21/joran_van_der_sloot_bethany_storro_illuminate_columbine
Enough school shooters; Time to face depression 09/28/2010 http://open.salon.com/blog/dave_cullen/2010/09/28/enough_school_shooters_time_to_face_depression
Half our kids admit to bullying—the worse part 10/27/2015 http://open.salon.com/blog/dave_cullen/2010/10/27/half_our_kids_admit_to_bullyingthe_worse_part#comment_2050374