In the United States, increasingly young mass killers

The journey of the two young men accused of having committed the Buffalo massacres [qui a fait 10 morts et 3 blessés dans un supermarché le 14 mai] and Uvalde [qui a fait 21 morts et 17 blessés dans une école le 24 mai] has something familiar: the day after they turned 18, they legally obtained semi-automatic rifles, posted photos that were supposed to demonstrate their strength, and then pointed those guns at innocent people.

Both are at a threshold considered critical – between 15 and 25 – an age range that law enforcement officials and experts say is a risky phase for young people. men, a time when they are in the throes of intense change and subject to societal pressures that can usually drive them to violence and, in rarer cases, to mass shootings.

A “social contagion”

The perpetrators of six of the nine deadliest shootings recorded in the United States since 2018 were aged 21 or younger. A real change, since until 2000 this kind of killings were most often perpetrated by men in their twenties, thirties or forties.

“As far as the culprits of mass murder are concerned, we distinguish between two groups: people in their forties who commit shootings in their workplace and a very large group of young people – aged 18, 19, 20, 21 – who seem affected by the social contagion of the killing”, comments Jillian Peterson, who teaches criminal law.

There is no single, simple explanation for why young men are more likely to act out. (Young girls and women make up a tiny percentage of the total number of cases.) The causes most cited by authorities and academics seem intuitive: online harassment, gun advertising aimed at young people men, the laxity of local and federal laws, which allow the purchase of semi-automatic weapons from the age of 18.

The shootings also come amid a deepening mental health crisis among teens, a crisis that predates the pandemic but has deepened it. Much of the hopelessness felt by adolescents and young adults has been internalized, resulting in an increase in self-harm and suicides.

While mass shootings constitute a very small minority among young people, they are nevertheless a reflection of more general tendencies towards loneliness and despair, and an expression of the dark side of a culture saturated by social media and violent content.

The desire to prove yourself

Besides Buffalo and Uvalde, a shootout of m

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The New York Times (New York)

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