Q: “What is with all the school shootings? It seems like they are becoming more and more common.” - Mary D.
A: School shootings are one of the most tragic things our culture can imagine. We send our children off to school with the hope that the school will be able to protect them. It’s hard for us to allow them out of our protection and we are forced to trust other people to keep our most precious treasures safe.
So, in a sense, school shootings are one of our worst nightmares come true. Because of that, they garner an enormous amount of response. Every time a school shooting happens, word quickly spreads all over the country and in a matter of hours every single person in the country knows about it. Most of the social media posts are of people giving their heartfelt sentiments toward the victims with some remarks about society mixed in. It allows us to see the best part of humanity in our willingness to come together and support each other.
The reasons behind such a horrific act are complex and I don’t pretend to understand them all. No one does. However, there is one thing behind it that I think needs to be pointed out. Our reaction to these tragedies is perpetuating the violence.
30 years ago, the idea of a school shooting was a foreign concept. They just didn’t happen. Then, in the last 20 years, school shootings have become more and more common. Every incident seems to increase the likelihood of another one.
I’m not so dumb as to suggest that news reports of a school shooting caused a normal kid to want to then go and kill another human being. These people are suffering from mental disorders and lack the conscience you and I have that would prevent us from ever being able to do such a thing. However, the idea of a school shooting would most likely never have entered their head had they never been exposed to it. There were just as many kids with mental disorders 30 years ago, but the thought of shooting up their school never crossed their minds.
Violent video games have been blamed, but research shows that those who play violent video games seems to have the opposite effect. Those who play violent video games act are less likely to act out violently in real life. It seems that the games allow them an outlet for any violent tendencies they might have.
Our cultural response to these acts of violence has made instant celebrities out of these perpetrators. That fame is due to an overwhelming amount of hate from Americans hurting from the tragedy, but our culture has blurred the line between famous and infamous. Just look at our reality shows!
The reality is that the quickest way to become famous is to go shoot up a school. With that fame is a feeling of extreme power. To certain people who feel powerless, that can be very attractive. Teenagers attempt suicide all the time as a way of getting attention. They feel they are not being taken seriously, and attempting suicide is a way to remedy that.
Statistically, women are much more likely to attempt suicide, but way more men actually kill themselves than females. That means that most of the women who attempt suicide are not succeeding. When men want to kill themselves, they kill themselves. But, when women attempt suicide it is usually a cry for help, a way to get attention from those who don’t take them seriously. I can’t help but wonder if a similar thing is going on with the school shootings. It definitely fits with what we know about the killers.
Should we keep quiet?
Startling research has shown that whenever a celebrity commits suicide the country’s suicide rate spikes. The more famous the celebrity and/or the more sensational the suicide was, the higher the spike. The longer the news coverage lasts, the longer it takes the suicide rates to go back to normal.
Hearing about suicide puts the idea inside people’s head. So, do we have a duty then, to not report them? The news coverage is literally, resulting in death!
I can’t help but wonder if the same thing is true about school shootings. If we didn’t make a big deal about them, and ignored the people who did it, would it prevent more school shootings from happening? If it would, don’t we have a responsibility to do so?
Something to think about!