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Related Categories: U.S. | Education & Student Activism
Mass school shootings & How the media does not help with the aftermath
by Taijah Ortiz (taijahortizforcollege [at] gmail.com)
Saturday Nov 16th, 2019 9:26 PM
This Op-Ed goes in-depth about how the media does not help with the aftermath of mass school shootings.
Mass school shootings & how news media is not helping

School shootings have been on the rise for the past 9 years. According to (CHDS.us) there were 110 gunfires at schools in the year 2018 versus only 15 gunfires in schools in 2010. By these surprisingly high numbers, I personally do not find that people talk about coping with the aftermath of gunfire(s) that sadly happen in schools nowadays. In addition to how it could affect young students’ emotional and mental health. It’s important that people pay attention to the mental health of students because they are the community of the future. Rather The media does not cover the actual story of the awful incident, instead, reporters in most cases make the situation worse and exploit the matter. Now, if schools were able to openly talk about what could happen and fully prepare the following protocols, the numbers within these gunfires would decrease and instead of the negative media coverage, the media can show that the community is coming together and overcoming a tragic situation.

According to Jaclyn Schildkrautand Glenn W. Muschert authors of “Violent Media, Guns, and Mental Illness: The Three Ring Circus of Causal Factors for School Massacres, as Related in Media Discourse” state that “When news of a school shooting breaks, the media rush to the scene to begin a barrage of coverage that can last days and even weeks.” (160) I find it shocking that the media is quick to do a full cover story when people (children) are in serious danger. Opposing, that is their job, but the aftermath of the event should be what the main topic is and how the community is coming together to help one another (ex. Awareness of resources). Schildkraut and Muschert add, “Perhaps one of the more interesting discourses that have emerged following each of these school shootings is the idea that the cause of the event must be bigger than the shooters themselves...there has to be some greater reason that these events have occurred in order to make what has happened understandable, or possibly even manageable.” (161) In the media, most times the stories or headlines can be passive-aggressive. Which in some cases can make the writers seem as if they are reaching for a story, instead of spreading awareness of gun control. As a result, within news coverage, I truly believe that their take on covering these tragic stories is not right for the community and does make the situation much worse for the victims that were involved and their families.

Furthermore, in the article “Understanding Causality in the Effects of Media Violence” by Brad J. Bushman and Craig A. Anderson, they state that “In each case, the focus tends to be on one and only one “cause.” However, violent criminal behavior is almost never the result of a single cause.” (1808) I agree with Bushman and Anderson because the media does portray the perpetrator of mass school shootings as if he/she/they only had one cause to do awful action (most common being mental illness). Including, the media tries (in a professional manner) to give society an answer on why this happened and its because of mental illness rather than following up with the hearing/ trials to get the actual truth or information.

In conclusion, the relation between media and mass school shootings does not help advertise resources nor give a recovering story on the terrible tragedy that happens in these schools. I do believe the media does make it difficult for those trying to heal from the tragic incident that was taken at these schools by not providing correct information and exploiting the incident further rather than paying attention to the resources and awareness of those affected.

Works Cited:

Bushman, B. J., & Anderson, C. A. (2015). Understanding Causality in the Effects of Media Violence. American Behavioral Scientist, 59(14), 1807–1821. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764215596554

Riedman, David, and Desmond O’Neill. “CHDS – K-12 School Shooting Database.” Center for Homeland Defense and Security, [date accessed], http://www.chds.us/ssdb.

Schildkraut, J., & Muschert, G. W. (2019). Violent media, guns, and mental illness: The three ring circus of causal factors for school massacres, as related in media discourse. Fast Capitalism, 10(1).

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