the killer at thurston high
Join the Discussion: What are your thoughts on this story? Are there any  answers or lessons that can be drawn from it?

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Dear FRONTLINE,

What Kip Kinkel did is clearly extraordinarily horrific. That's as easy to see as it is difficult to comprehend.

That he is a mentally ill person is also perfectly clear and a truly horrifying reality.

But what is most appalling is the fact that a judge -- and almost everyone responding to your story -- could ignore such a perfectly obvious fact.

Ignoring mental disease does not make it go away. And it will certainly not make society safer.

Christopher Collier

Dear FRONTLINE,

I think that many answers come from this act of violence...A young teen who only wanted someone to love him.Someone to listen to his feelings.That's all he wanted.But instead,no one would listen to him,although he had excellant parents.


People called him pyscho,and weird.If you were a social outcast,and loved someone,and they refused to love you back,wouldn't you want to hurt someone,because your hurting? Wouldn't you want them to feel your pain? I would say I know how he feels,and I understand his motive to kill,I feel sorry for the guy, and If I got the chance I would meet him and become friends with him.Because everyone needs friends,even though they did something bad.

Samantha Brookshire
Junction City, Oregon

Dear FRONTLINE,

Blaming music, video games and the like are completely stupid. I was once in high school and subject to torment i watched those movies and played the video games and listened to rammstein and slayer but i did not go out and kill others or even resort to violence.


If you want to stop the violence then parents need to step up to the plate and take concern in their kids lives, instead of letting the t.v. babysit get off your butts and be active in their lives. My father taught me how to use firearms and came to my football games and let me lead a life but he was very very involved even when it came to my friends he would warn me but not impeded on my life i think that when people say oh its the guns fault or its the games or music etc. i think that it is a cop out not once in recorded human history has a gun magically aimed all by itself and shot somebody.

Look at the shooter and his families history.When i shipped out for bootcamp it was my pleasure to meet jake ryker who helped to stop the shooting and i shot pool with him at meps portland and while there i asked -- do you blame guns or do you blame the backround and he said "I don't really blame anybody but i think that family is important" So in conclusion parents get involved so that we dont have another columbine thurston paducah or any of the others cause i am sick of kids killin kids.

Jeremy Pearce
portland, oregon

Dear FRONTLINE,

I just watched the Frontline video in my Developmental Psych class. I felt so overwhelmed after watching it. All of the depression, hopelessness and emptiness I felt in high school came surfacing as I related strongly to Kip's isolation and frustration in a world he could not get a handle on.
I hope by now that he has, or is on his way to, finding some sense of peace in himself. That's no doubt much harder now having done such horrific things.
I hope everyone learns from the shootings at Thurston and Columbine and the countless others that did not get as much publicity. The message is that the assailants are desperate, lost and hurt.
Kids know when u really love them and when you are just pretending to be interested just because that's what parents should do.
Love your kids, and if you are a high school teacher or administrator, protect the kids that get picked on and end up in the office.

katie c

Dear FRONTLINE,

FRONTLINE,
You aired a program about Kip Kinklel tonight tuesday,May 29, 2001 at 10:00 PM which depicted a scenerio that was so inaccurate as to be suspect. Is it really possible that no one on the "inside" knows what happens to a person to bring them to the point where they commit desperate, anti social acts such as Kip did?

This type of behavior has been seriously studied; by me among othersand well defined, yet the information that reaches the public is so far from reality that it has only negative value and would have best been not released.
For example, you tout the Kinkles as good people and great parents and sicons of the community and etc. and etc. when in obvious fact they were so great that thier little boy went nuts and killed them. I realise that this is blunt and to the point, but the problem is serious. It would be good if someone or more of us who really know; Who have taken the time to study this kind of behavior could be allowed to present the reality to the public. If this were to happen people could begin to incorperate adjustments into thier communities that would make a real difference. BW

Burrell Webb
Junction Cityt, Oregon

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was watching T.V when something about the shooting came on. I decided to watch it and then check it out on the web. I've never been in a school shooting so I can't say I know how these people feel but I have been in a bomb threat and gun threat and that's scary too. I lost some people in the Okla bombing so I know how it feels to lose people you love. I ask myself everyday how could someone do that? Just kill someone. I think this world is way to out of control and needs to be fixed. To all you victims we love and admire you.

angela harper
norman, okla.

Dear FRONTLINE,

When baffling events like these start to take become more commonplace, it's understandable that people start to search for straight forward causes e.g. guns, music, lack of attention, teen hormones, etc.for extreme vilence, especially that committed by teens.
I think that we are simply examining and attempting to remedy simptoms of a greater disease. All the stuff we talk about, guns, violent movies, nutty music, drugs, and so forth stems from a lack of a world view and meaningful direction for our society. Just look at the stuff they make us read in high school in english classes, it's all very nihllistic in nature. there's no point in life. Life sucks, it's all pain and then we die and rot. Love is worth killing over. Our industrialized society is only geared toward one thing and that is the production/consumption cycle. Make as much doe as you can and graze like the cattle until you die. Why we are here, are we created, what can really be the answer to the mystery of existence, are not questions that anyone bothers with any more. The result is confusion, bizzare behavior, misery, guns, marilyn manson, etc. etc. until the extremes along this continuum begin to manifest themselves in things like columbine and thurston.
By the way, I think that the whole concept that teenage years must by default be characterized of confusion, violence, strange behavior and the like is really a contemporary social contruct of western civilization. None of this is taken for granted in other more traditional societies. Anywhere else being a teen means becoming mentally and emotionally mature and entering adulthood, as opposed entering a period of recklessness and infantile, crude behavior.
In my opinion, unless there is a radical re-orientation in the ehtic and worldview of our society, something on the order of a paradigm shift, then we're really on the straight course to domestic hell and our nation won't last half a century.

Amru Albeiruti

Dear FRONTLINE,

I'm 21 years old and never in my wildest dreams worried about someone bringing a gun to school. I don't believe in the use of violence when your scared or angry. This boy may have had a "normal" life, but I'm glad the judge didn't go easy on him.

I hae two questions...What happened to tougher gun laws?
Didn't his father have to take a gun class that tells you to "KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN"?

courtney thomas

Dear FRONTLINE,

Nobody seems to realize that part of the blame that people do this is because of bullying at schools and getting treated poorly by other people who think they are better than everyone else. they don't have feelings and that's what makes them be mean to other people. that is part of the reason some school shootings happen. most school principals don't do anything about teasing or getting harassed at school by other students. the principals seem to think that the teasing will blow over; it won't and it doesn't.

i myself, am a 14 year old girl who is treated the same way everyday at school by the same people and when i tell on them the principal doesn't do anything about it. and you people don't know who to blame, look at how kids are treated at school and you tell me that you want to blame music artists and video games, give me a break!!

name withheld

Dear FRONTLINE,

My daughter was one of the 24 maimed students at Thurston that day. She is lucky to be alive today.

When Kinkel was caught with a gun on his high school campus, his parents were called. They took him home. And Kinkel shot them both dead. That was a conscieneous choice.

When Kinkel shot Ben Walker in the breezeway, bypassed his friends and opened the door to the cafeteria and started shooting - he made a consciencous choice.

I attended every day of the sentencing and heard a myriad of witnesses produced by the defense. They were teachers, counselors, friends of the family and neighbors. All saying what wonderful parents Bill and Faith were, but when their son "got into trouble" they regularly intervened for him.

When Kinkel was only 6 years old - he attacked a 12 year old boy with a piece of rebar. That boy carries a scar to this day from that attack. When Kinkel began attending school, the teachers and counselors notes invariably speak of problems with him, and parent meetings in which the parents expressed concern and that they were "taking care of it".

When a one of his counselors expressed her real concerns for Kinkel, she was replaced with a counselor who was a friend of the family.

Responsibility and accountability are two words we don't hear very much on tv, in movies or in the classroom. But it is usually taught in the home. However when you can behave poorly and are not held accountable - how will this affect your behavior?

Were it not for the possibility of a speeding ticket, would you always obey the speed limit?

I personally hold Kinkel responsible for his actions that day.

As for the parents - they were the ones who stopped the counseling. They were the ones who bought him hundreds of knives and his guns. They were the ones who taught him to shoot so accurately. And they were the first ones to suffer at the hands of the son they created.

I do not apologize for my strong feelings. My daughter was shot because two well-educated, well-liked teachers in my community circumvented the repercussions of their son's behavior at the expense of the community they proclaimed to love so much.

Aren't you glad your child wasn't there that day?

Springfield, Oregon

Diana Alldredge

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am 14 and when my mother told me about this story, I was appalled. Why in the world would you give a chronically disturbed person two guns within six months? Why would you give a teenager a gun? They lived in the city and as far as we know, didn't have hunting interests. Were the parents mentally disturbed? This makes me wonder about the future that is resting on my generations' shoulders.

Kate Frary

Dear FRONTLINE,

Depression, sadness, alienation, rejection, loneliness - who hasn't felt this way at times in their life? But most of us manage to find hope, and learn how to build that sense of good feeling about ourself that helps us cope with the struggle that Life on Earth can so often become.

Some of us find it through a mother or father, a friend, teacher, counselor, or other role model - someone who can "push the right buttons" to get us looking on the bright side again.

If your lucky that is. All too often, people are too busy with their own problems to really help much with anyone else's...

I'm sure in his own way, Kip cried out for help. He was in so much pain, people had to notice...these school killings should show us that, as a community, we need to take an interest in kids who are struggling. Not just the football stars and but the kids who are getting in trouble, don't have any friends, or have a parent that doesn't understand them. Listening to them is a good start. Let them get it out. Let's not let anymore kids just suffer in silence.

Stephen Kallai
Mill Valley, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

While reading and listeng to segments on your website I could not help but remember myself as a 14 year old boy - angry confused and isolated. As a teenager I committed several crimes and was not a receptive candidate for rehabilitation.

I can't help but feel a sense of kinship with Kip and any other young man who starts out life feeling so very alone. I belive that there are redeeming qualties in everyone no matter how horrific their acts and believe the 111 year sentence to be inappropriate.

It seems pretty obvious that he was mentally ill. What kind of society bases sentences on revenge and political expediance over what is just and right? Mr. Kinkle could be held at a secure mental health facility and get the treatment that anyone with a severe mental illness deserves.

Jackson lawless
spokane, Washington

Dear FRONTLINE,

I watched your program last week and was deeply disturbed. I really wonder if something that Kip's sister pointed out could really correlate with the violence. She mentioned that in the house violence was very much forbidden.

That coupled with the exhaulting of violence in the "Romeo and Juliet" movie, I think could lead a troubled kid to think that the answer must be to react violently. It's very baffling. We have to stop raising our boys as soldiers and then being surprised when they kill.

joe andrews

Dear FRONTLINE,

I saw the program for the first time this morning...I was outraged at this scum bag who said that his parents were good people and he loved them, and by his cowardly act of shooting them both to death...

Then he prepares himself for another day at school armed to the gills, enters the school and methodically begins killing and wounding innocent people because he had no other choice.

He is in the very cess pool accompanied by the Bundy's, Gacy the Clown, the Manson's, and the Dahmer's. Any amount of time that he received was too good for him.

Gilbert Zabala

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