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Media's Role In Mass School Shootings

2863 words - 11 pages

The United States will not soon forget the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut that came just two weeks before Christmas last year. This tragic event resulted in the death of twenty students and eight adults. Although the event shocked the nation, rampage shootings are nothing new. Over the years, many families have lost loved ones to these horrific events. As a result, these mass shootings such as the one that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary caught public attention leading to a push to find the cause of these events. Out of this research a variety of possible causes came to light consisting of arguments stating that high school bullying, availability of guns, mental illness, violent movies and video games are the cause of mass shootings. However, these researchers and debaters tend to ignore the role of massive media coverage in the increase of copycat shootings in the United States.
The history of school shootings has shown an increase in mass school shooting. The very first known school shooting in the United States occurred on July 26, 1764 in present-day Greencastle, Pennsylvania. As part of the Pontiac's Rebellion, four Lenape Native Americans entered the school house and started shooting, killing the schoolmaster Enoch Brown and about nine students. Only two students survived the massacre (“History”). Since the 1700s the United States society has changed in many ways. Schools have become more than just one room school houses and each grade has its own teacher. Furthermore, the problem of school shootings has not decreased but rather increased over the years. On the one hand, reports from the Centers for Disease Control showed that in general school violence decreased from 1992 to 2006 and then leveled off. On the other hand, the same report found that rather than declining, the number of multiple victim attacks in schools not involving gang disputes experienced an unprecedented increase over the same time period (qtd. in Rocque).
In response to the increase of mass shootings over the years, a number of theories have developed to explain the causes of these tragic events. Arguments for high school bullying, availability of guns, mental illness, violent movies and video games as the cause of mass shootings may appear to be absolute and clear; however, few arguments, thus far developed, explain school rampage shootings in a conclusive manner. The most popular solution in decreasing the number of school shootings is to decrease the availability of guns. This idea has become so popular that it has been discussed by government in arguments over gun control. While it is true that guns play a role in mass shootings, an idea clearly indicated by “the sudden drop in mass shootings in Australia following a ban on semi-automatic shotguns and rifles,” the weapons used are only the tool and their availability does not sufficiently explain the rise in school shootings (Mesoudi). The cause could be rather...

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