Bullying Becomes Motive for Shootings in Finnish Schools – 2024-04-08 10:03:34

Police said that the motive for the school shooting in Finland was thought to be because the suspect had been a victim of bullying. (AFP)

A 12-year-old boy suspected of shooting and killing a classmate and wounding two girls at a school in Finland said he had been driven by bullying, police said Wednesday.

Flags flew at half-mast as the northern European country observed a day of mourning a day after the boy was shot at his school in the Finnish city of Vantaa.

“The motive for the action has been confirmed as bullying,” police said in a statement.

The suspect said during questioning “he had been the victim of bullying,” the statement added. “This information has also been confirmed during the initial investigation by the police.”

Police also said the young suspect had only been a student at Viertola school near Helsinki since the beginning of this year.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Vantaa city officials would not comment on whether the school was aware of the bullying.

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According to Finnish television channel MTV Uutiset, the boy was wearing a mask and noise-canceling headphones when he carried out the shooting on Tuesday morning.

The dead child, a Finnish boy also 12 years old, died at the scene, and the suspect had already fled the school by the time police arrived after receiving reports of a shooting shortly after 9 a.m.

Threats against others – Police said on Wednesday that their investigation had shown the suspect had threatened other students as they went to school in a neighborhood north of the capital Helsinki – which is south of Vantaa.

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The suspect had threatened them with a gun while leaving the Viertola school after the shooting, police said.

Police opened an investigation into murder and attempted murder but said the suspect had been handed over to social services. The perpetrator could not be detained by the police because of his age.

The suspect, who was carrying a firearm, was arrested “calmly” within an hour of the shooting.

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The revolver-like firearm used in the shooting belonged to a close relative of the boy, police said, adding the matter is being investigated “as a separate firearms offense.”

The school, which has about 90 staff and 800 students aged seven to 15, remained open on Wednesday but students had a shorter day than usual, Vantaa Deputy Mayor Katri Kalske told AFP.

Kalske said extensive support would be available to students and staff throughout the day, and that the shooting would be discussed in all the city’s schools in an “age-appropriate” manner.

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The two injured girls remain hospitalized, according to police.

The children’s hospital where they were treated confirmed they were being treated for “serious injuries,” but said it would not share details about their situation to protect their integrity.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said the incident was “very disturbing”, adding his thoughts were with the victims, their parents, other students and teachers.

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“In the coming days, we must be there for children and young people, offering them words of comfort and showing them that we care about them,” he said in a statement.

“They may be scared or have questions. It’s important that we talk about these incidents in our homes.”

‘I don’t understand’ – Tuula Jouskari, 70, told AFP she felt that parents needed to come together and listen to their children.

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“We have good education and schools. I don’t understand why that little kid … has such a bad situation,” he said.

Elina Pekkarinen, Finland’s Children’s Rights Ombudsman, told Finnish news agency STT that “for years (we have repeated) we need to take violence between children in society seriously”.

Acts of violence, especially among children under the age of 15, have increased over recent years, he added.

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Police said several schools across the country have received threats following the shooting.

Finland has witnessed several horrific school attacks in recent decades.

In November 2007, an 18-year-old man opened fire at a secondary school in Jokela, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Helsinki, killing the principal and a nurse along with six pupils before shooting himself.

A year later, in September 2008, 22-year-old Matti Juhani Saari killed 11 people at a vocational school in the western city of Kauhajoki.

In October 2019, a student, armed with a scythe, killed a 23-year-old woman and injured nine other people at a vocational school in the city of Kuopio. (AFP/Z-3)

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