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作者:Joe Pinsker 



策划:刘蕊 & 唐萧

Many families of killers are left to sort through their confusion and shock as some assume they are to blame.

Last weekend, a shooter killed nine people in Dayton, Ohio, before being killed by police. The suspect was identified as Connor Betts, a 24-year-old, and among the victims was his younger sister, Megan. “It seems to just defy believability that he would shoot his own sister,” Dayton’s police chief said. “But it’s also hard to believe he didn’t recognize that was his sister, so we just don’t know.”
上周末,在俄亥俄州的代顿市(Dayton),一名枪手在被警方击毙前枪杀了九人。嫌犯确定身份为康纳·贝茨(Connor Betts),现年24岁。他的妹妹梅根(Megan)也是受害者之一。当地警长表示,“难以置信嫌犯会枪击自己的妹妹,但也很难相信他会认不出自己的妹妹,所以,我们也一头雾水。”

Many in Dayton, and in the country, are trying to comprehend the incident, not least the parents of the siblings. Having lost two children, they are left with a brutal twist on a question faced by so many other parents in the era of mass shootings: How does one make sense of having a child who has killed several people?

The parents of the suspected Dayton shooter have not yet issued any public statements, but the reflections of others in similar situations illustrate the many confusing emotions a parent might experience after an incident like this. Andrew Solomon, the author of Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, has had intimate conversations with multiple parents of people who committed violent crimes. In those conversations, he told me, he was struck by how different parents’ reactions could be.
虽然“代顿枪杀案”嫌犯的父母尚未对外发表声明,但类似事件中他人的反应足以说明——为人父母在这类事件后可能会经历的种种复杂情绪。《远离这棵树:子女,父母和身份的寻找》的作者安德鲁·所罗门(Andrew  Solomon)曾和一些子女犯下暴力犯罪的父母有过密切的谈话。所罗门提到,在谈话过程中,父母反应的大相径庭让他吃惊不已。

He first mentioned Sue Klebold, whose son Dylan and another teenager killed a dozen classmates and a teacher 20 years ago at Columbine High School. “When it first happened,” she told Solomon in an interview for his book, “I used to wish that I had never had children, that I had never married … But over time, I’ve come to feel that, for myself, I am glad I had kids and glad I had the kids I did, because the love for them—even at the price of this pain—has been the single greatest joy of my life.” (She was speaking of her own pain, she clarified, not the pain that others suffered because of her son.)
他先提到了苏·克莱伯德(Sue Klebold)。20年前,她儿子和一名少年在哥伦拜恩高中枪杀了12名学生和1名教师。在所罗门准备写书之前的一次采访中,她曾提到,“案件刚发生的时候,我曾经常想,我要是没结婚、没生子该多好。但随着时间慢慢流逝,我开始感觉到,对我个人来说,我很开心我生下他们,对此我真的很开心。因为,就算要忍受这种痛苦,对他们的爱是我一生中最大的快乐。”(她提到的,是案件给她本人带来的痛苦,而非其他因为自己儿子带来痛苦的人。)

Solomon told me that in speaking with Peter Lanza—the father of Adam, who killed 20 students and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012—he saw a different way of processing a family tragedy. Lanza, as Solomon wrote, wished his son had never been born, explaining, “That didn’t come right away. That’s not a natural thing, when you’re thinking about your kid. But, God, there’s no question.”

In these conversations with parents, one commonality Solomon has noticed—in addition to a sense of disbelief and confusion—is that parents often dwell on who their children used to be. He recalled interviewing a mother whose child was in prison for committing a violent crime: “I said, ‘Do you miss seeing him?’ She said, ‘I don’t miss who he is at all, but I miss who he was. And I miss the person I thought he would turn out to be.”

The love for who a child used to be is not easily extinguished. “Parents love their kids, even though they’ve committed a horrible act,” Peter Langman, a psychologist who studies school shootings, told me. When a school shooter survives, he said, “the parents often are at the trials, visit them in prison, [and] support them in whatever way they can.”
对昔日子女的爱很难褪去。研究校园枪击的心理学家皮特·朗曼(Peter Langman)曾对我说过,“舐犊情深,即使子女罪孽深重也无法改变这个事实。”如果校园枪击的凶犯活下来,他说,“父母通常会出席审判,探监,竭尽所能支持子女。”

Trying to make sense of a child’s actions can be torturous, though. Langman pointed me to an account of a mother confronting her son, who was responsible for a 1999 shooting at Heritage High School, outside of Atlanta. She asked him several times why he didn’t take his own life, at one point saying, “I don’t know how you took innocent children but you were afraid to do anything to you. That really has me puzzled. You didn’t think twice about doing it to them.”

After a shooting, this sort of confusion abounds. “Everybody starts asking, What made this person do that?” Laura Wilson, a psychology professor at the University of Mary Washington, told me. “And I think the parents [of shooters] even more so are at a complete loss, because they feel like they should be able to explain it—they knew their child, probably better than most people.”
枪击案后,这种疑惑屡见不鲜。玛丽华盛顿大学的心理学教授劳拉·威尔逊(Laura Wilson)和我说,“每个人都在问,他为什么要这么做?作父母的更是手足无措,因为他们觉得自己该对此做出解释–他们了解自己的子女,至少该比大多数人更了解。”

“After these types of events, there tend to be memorial events and funds created—and rightfully so—for the victims and for the victims’ families,” Wilson went on. “But in a way, the parents [and family members] of the shooter are also experiencing a loss.”

Solomon, too, was mindful of what these parents must endure. “The general social response to the news of something like this is to presume that the child came from an awful, terrible family that somehow caused it—and families therefore feel enormous guilt for the behavior of their children,” he said. To be sure, a troubled home environment seems to be one factor of many that can put kids at risk for extreme, violent behavior. But in Solomon’s experience, in most cases, “the parents actually were pretty good, loving parents doing their best.”

Both he and Wilson said the parents of shooters shouldn’t be cast as being at fault. “I think if we could move away from a narrative of blaming those parents,” Solomon said, “it would be a great liberation … These families deserve our compassion, rather than our disgust.”











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