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How social media can influence violent attacks

"Now everything is available 24/7, day and night and the exposure children and adolescence have to social media is a powerful driving force."

ST. LOUIS – Since the tragic school shooting happened in Florida – students, parents, teachers and police are all asking why?

What makes a person want to kill 17 people?

“Violence is extremely difficult to predict. There are no set rules or guidelines for it,” said Dr. Tahir Rahman.

Dr. Rahman is an associate professor of psychiatry at Washington University Medical School. He’s done extensive research on violence and studied several cases where patients with severe mental illness have committed heinous crimes.

“Beliefs don’t just happen overnight. These things grow slowly overtime and become more dominant,” he said.

According to Dr. Rahman, part of the problem lies in social media. The internet provides potentially dangerous people endless articles on violence. It also allows them to interact with other possibly violent people.

“Now everything is available 24/7, day and night and the exposure children and adolescence have to social media is a powerful driving force,” he said.

Days before carrying out one of the worst mass school shootings in U.S. history, Nikolas Cruz, the alleged gunman, posted threatening and hateful messages on social media.

“Predatory behavior can happen when depression and other psychological factors are present which fuel that belief system,” said Dr. Rahman.

He said it’s not just a social media problem, it’s a cultural problem and as a society we have to work on finding solutions.

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