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Kip Kinkel: Criminal Theories - Research Paper Example

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Kipland Kinkel is a notorious killer who shot his parents and went on to kill two students and injure many others in the Thurston High School. A study of the events leading up to his crime gives us several insights to his personality. …
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Kip Kinkel: Criminal Theories
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Kip Kinkel: Criminal Theories. Kipland Kinkel is a notorious killer who shot his parents and went on to kill twostudents and injure many others in the Thurston High School. A study of the events leading up to his crime gives us several insights to his personality. It is seen that his criminal behavior particularly lends itself to explanation through the application of the Psychological Theory and the Sociological Theory of criminal behavior. Kip Kinkel: Criminal Theories. The case of Kip Kinkel remains one to the most notorious instances of a school shooting in the USA. On 20 May, 1998, Kip Kinkel shot dead his parents at their home in Springfield, Oregon. He went on to Thurston High School, where he indulged in a killing spree, “methodically emptying 51 rounds from a semiautomatic rifle and a handgun” (Savage, 1998) on the students in the cafeteria. He killed two students and injured about 22 others, before he was overcome by other students and disarmed. Explosives and partially assembles bombs were found in the house. A brief account of Kinkel’s life before this fateful day gives us insights into his personality, and helps to explain his criminal behavior in the context of theories of crime.   Kipland Kinkel was born to Bill Kinkel and Faith Zuranski on 30 August, 1982. He is held back in the first grade because he “lacked maturity and had slow emotional and physical development” (Frontline, Chronology, 2000). He has problems with the written language, demonstrating “an abnormally high” (Frontline, Chronology, 2000) level of frustration and anxiety. He qualifies for special education services, and is diagnosed with learning disabilities, although he shows exceptional ability in Mathematics and Science. From the seventh grade, Kip and his friends indulge in dubious activities: ordering bomb-building manuals, shop-lifting, and throwing rocks at cars from a highway overpass. Kip secretly buys an old shotgun from a friend in 1996. In January 1997, Kip begins counseling sessions with psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Hicks, who diagnoses him with “difficulty with learning in school, had difficulty managing anger, some angry acting out and depression” (qtd. in Frontline, Chronology, 2000). The Department of Youth Services gives Kip a clean chit. Kip persists in his interest in explosives and guns. Hicks recommends a course of Prozac for Kip’s depression. Kip appears to improve and the counseling is stopped. In July 1997, Bill buys his son a 9mm Glock. Kip goes on to secretly purchase a .22 pistol from a friend. In September, Bill buys Kip a .22 semiautomatic rifle. On 20 May 1998, Kip buys a stolen semiautomatic gun from a friend in school. He is arrested and released home. Kip shoots his parents. On the following morning, he executes the school killings. When we consider Kipland Kinkel’s actions in the light of the theories of criminal behavior, it is seen that Psychological theories, and Sociological theories in particular, are relevant in this case. Psychological Theories attempt to identify the risk factors and causes associated with the crime. The mental disorders exhibited by criminals are psychosis and neurosis. In this context, Kip Kinkel is diagnosed as psychotic by the psychologists who testified for the defense in his trial. Kip’s learning disorder, depression, sense of alienation and injustice, low self-esteem, paranoia, and his perception of adults as “unfair, arbitrary and untrustworthy” are cited as signs of psychosis. (Frontline, The Sentencing, 2000). In accordance with the fact that Psychological theories include delusions and hallucinations as definite symptoms of psychosis (Meithe, 9), it is significant that Kip refers to “these voices inside by head” (qtd. in LeFevre, 2000) as the reason for his crime. Kip asserts that it was the voices which ordered him to kill: “The voices said, ‘Shoot him.’ --- ‘Go to school and kill everybody.’” (qtd. in Fontline. The Sentencing, 2000). Further evidence of Kip’s psychotic tendencies is seen from his journal entries, which reveal a sense of isolation and suppressed rage: “I am always alone --- I am so full of rage” (qtd. in Frontline, The Sentencing, 2000). Kip Kinkel’s criminal behavior can be attributed to psychological degeneracy. Social Process theories are particularly relevant in the case of Kip Kinkel. These theories focus on the interaction between the individual and the environment. According to Sutherland’s Theory of Differential Association, the individual’s primary context for learning criminal behavior is with “significant others” in intimate personal groups. (Meithe, 25). In this context, it is relevant that Kip’s antisocial behavior in shop-lifting, rock-throwing, and secret buying of firearms, is within the circle of his friends. It can be argued that his Kip learned some of the aspects of criminal behavior from his close friends. Another Sociological Theory which is especially relevant in Kip’s criminal behavior is Sykes and Matza’s Techniques of Neutralization, according to which the denial of responsibility, denial of injury, denial of victim, condemnation of the condemners, and appeal to a higher loyalty, are used to neutralize criminal inhibitions. (Meithe, 27). Kip abdicates responsibility for his crime by saying, “I had no other choice” (LeFevre, 2000), and blames the voices in his head. Likewise, Kip denies his parents as victims by claiming that he “killed his parent to spare them the shame” (LeFevre, 2000). Gotffredson and Hirschi’s General Theory of Crime is another sociological theory which is applicable to Kip Kinkel. External social controls, such as attachment to parents, and involvement in school, affect the internal self-control which blocks criminal behavior. (Meithe, 29). In Kip’s case, this socialization process fails, as he has a strained relationship with his father, and indulges in aggressive behavior in school. Kip has low self-control, and succumbs to his criminal tendencies. It can also be mentioned here that, as per the Labeling Theory (Meithe, 29), it is possible that Kip’s arrest by the police in the rock throwing incident may have contributed to his development of a deviant self-concept. Kip declares, “I am a horrible son --- I am nothing” (qtd. in Frontline, The Sentencing, 2000). Kip Kinkel’s criminal behavior can be largely explained along the lines of the Social Process theories. In combination with the Psychological theories that point to Kip’s psychosis, these theories go a large way towards explaining his behavior. However, it remains difficult to rationalize the rage exhibited by Kipland Kinkel, and his heinous crime. References. LeFevre, Greg. 14 March, 2000. Tapes Show Kinkel’s Return to Scene of Oregon School Shooting. CNN U.S. Retrieved on 4 May, 2012 from http://articles.cnn.com/2000-01-21/us/kinkel.revisited_1_kip-kinkel-thurston-high-school-oregon-school-shooting?_s=PM:US Savage, Martin. May 22, 1998. Accused Oregon School Shooter Shows no Emotion in Court. CNN U.S. Retrieved on 4 May, 2012 from http://articles.cnn.com/1998-05-22/us/9805_22_oregon.shooting.pm_1_mikael-nickolauson-faith-kinkel-thurston-high-school?_s=PM:US Frontline. January, 2000. The Killer at Thurston High. PBS.org. web site. 2012. Retrieved on 4 May, 2012 from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/kinkel/ Meithe, Terance, D. (Year of Publication). Criminology Lecture Series, 3rd Edition. Place of Publication. Name of Publisher. Read More
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