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Professor and Alumna write about ‘homicide activism’ in ‘Psychology Today’


There are several debates and narratives to come out after the tragic mass shooting in Parkland, Fl., and a popular one centers around some of the teen survivors, who many say are shaping a new kind of debate about gun violence.

A Fordham professor and alumna shed light on the ‘homicide activism’ these teens are pushing in an opinion piece in Psychology Today. In it, they say the NRA may have finally met its match, as homicide activism is a little-known but surprisingly powerful phenomenon:

“In the U.S. today, there are over 15,000 reported homicides per year. Some are more horrific than others, but all these homicides have a devastating impact on the ‘homicide survivors’—the families and friends whose loved one was taken by an uncaring killer. The resulting trauma includes rage, depression, hopelessness, feelings of injustice, and incredible stresses that could destroy even the tightest family.” wrote Harold Takooshian, Ph.D., professor of psychology, and Melissa Leeolou, a researcher and honors graduate of Fordham’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies.

“Our research has measured how a small percentage of these survivors become ‘homicide activists.’ They manage to find ways to convert their negative anguish and rage into fuel to push for positive social change. In the name of their lost loved one, these ordinary citizens become fierce, unstoppable warriors for social change,” they wrote.

The piece goes on to give examples of past homicide activism campaigns that changed laws, such as the 1980 drunk driving death of 13-year-old Cari Lightner, which propelled her mom Candi Lightner to form Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), resulting in massive social change.

There are also the now-familiar Amber Alerts (for Amber Hageman), and Megan’s Law (for Megan Kanka).

Read more of the pair’s piece in Psychology Today. And listen to Leeolou talk about homicide activism at a law-psychology forum on Friday, March 16, at Lowenstein Center on the Lincoln Center campus, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Diverse directions in forensic psychology” takes place in Room 1022, and also features discussions on “Alienists in 19th Century New York” and “Rectifying False Confessions.” Contact Harold Takooshian at [email protected] with any questions.



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