Mothers of Mass Murderers: Exploring Public Blame for the Mothers of School Shooters through an Application of Courtesy Stigma to the Columbine and Newtown Tragedies
The families of Dylan Klebold, Eric Harris, and Adam Lanza have been blamed for raising sons who became school killers. The mothers, in particular, have been portrayed as failed parents because of their sons’ actions.
We applied Goffman’s concept of courtesy (associated) stigma to analyze readers’ responses on CBS and The Huffington News weblogs and to determine if the fathers, mothers, or both parents were singled out for blame.
Content analysis indicated that the mothers were always blamed for their sons’ actions; no one blamed the fathers. We concluded that courtesy stigma and gender rules are closely related in framing these responses.