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Seung-Hui Cho - Essay Example

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This paper presents the case of Seung-Hui Cho, a student at Virginia Tech University who went on a killing spree at the campus in 2007 before taking his own life. …
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Seung-Hui Cho
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Seung-Hui Cho

The paper then advances to two theories: rational choice and social learning in attempt to explain the Seung case. A background of each theory is provided, and each theory is applied to give an explanation to the case. In its conclusion, a personal opinion is provided in the paper to reflect on possible explanation of the case. Description of the Case Seung-Hui Cho studied at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and was a part of state varsity team. On the 16th of April 2007 Seung, a fourth year student undertaking a course in English, went on a shooting spree having killed 32 people and injuring another 25 people (Nizza, 2012). At the time of the incident Seung born in 1984 was 23 years old. This tragedy is referred to as the “Virginia Tech massacre”. Seung followed up the shooting spree by taking his own life after law enforcement agents breached the doors where the incidence took place. Seung was born in South Korea. His family moved to the US when he was 8 years old. He was a US permanent resident (Brunt, 2012). During his years in the middle school, Seung got diagnosed of a depressive disorder and a severe anxiety disorder referred to as selective mutism. Seung received therapy for this diagnosis until his years in junior high school (Nicolletti, 2009). Seung elicited concerns among his family for his behavior as a child. His relatives believed he was mentally ill. Most of his family members interviewed after the “Virginia Tech massacre” noted that he was extremely shy and did not mix up with other kids to play. He gets reported as a child who rarely talked (Nizza, 2012). At Virginia Tech, Seung got to raise significant concern in regards to instances of his abnormal behavior and the violence referenced in his plays and writings. After the massacre, a report provided by a panel convened by Tim Kaine, then Virginia governor, gave an explanation to the shooting (Nicolletti, 2009). The report dwelled on Seung’s troubled past and condemned the mental health professionals and educators who handled Seung for their failure to notice his deteriorating condition and offer him help. The report also questioned the gun laws and gaps in the mental health system of Virginia. Notably, though, the report primarily blamed Seung for his massacre and for not seeking medical help because of his condition. Theories This paper shall aim at discussing Seung’s case using two theories: rational choice theory and social learning theory. Rational Choice Theory In accordance with the rational choice theory, an individual is said to weigh the options of cost and benefits, means and ends before making a rational choice (Samaha, 2005). Rational choice in this sense refers to both what different people may view as either sane or crazy acts. As long as one gets to rationalize his choice of committing a crime, then the crime is explainable. The basis of rational choice is that individuals try to be at their best under any situation. Human behavior gets determined by reinforcements in the form of rewards and punishments (Samaha, 2005). Before undertaking whatever actions they plan to take, all human beings calculate the costs and benefits of their actions. Individuals may undertake crimes since they find it easy, satisfying or fun. In the act of undertaking a crime, an individual may base it on personal factors, such as revenge, entertainment, target victim’s vulnerability or police. A supporting theory of rational choice is the routine activities theory which got advanced by Cohen and Felson. As a subsidiary to the rational choice theory, a routine activities postulates that three factors must be present for crime to occur. The three are: the potential ... Read More
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