Mass Murders in Schools

By Pod 1: Skylar Cole, Alexis Townsend, Sophia Pearson

 

In examining the aspects in Mass Murders & Murderers, this article will focus on school shootings as the topic of investigation. This article will address some of the worst mass school shootings in history and elaborate on the cultural, ethical, and scientific impacts these events have distilled upon American society.  On April 20, 1999, at a high school located in Littleton Colorado, “two teens went on a shooting spree” leaving 13 people dead and over 20 others wounded.[1]On December 14, 2012, at an elementary school located in Newtown, Connecticut, a “mass shooting [occurred] that left 28 people dead and 2 injured.”[2]On May 18, 1927, a man bombed Bath Consolidated School which likely took “months to plan and prepare for”, leaving 38 children and six adults dead.[3] To what extent do these tragedies impact our culture as Americans? Are there specific victims targeted during these mass shootings by mass murderers?

Columbine School Shooters: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold

At exactly 11:19 in the morning on April 20, 1999, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris “dressed in trench coats [and] began shooting fellow students outside Columbine High School.”[4] After leaving a mass number of innocent individuals dead from gunshot wounds, Klebold and Harris turned the guns on themselves and committed suicide shortly after 12 in the afternoon. Upon investigating the motives behind the mass shootings, investigators speculated that “Harris and Klebold purposefully chose athletes, minorities, and Christians” as their victims.  One of the victims named Cassie, admitted to one of the gunmen that she believed in God. Upon his inquisition, he shot her in the head. Cassie’s parents went on to write a book called She Said Yes as a tribute to their beloved daughter who so tragically lost her life during this mass shooting. Ever since the Columbine High School shooting occurred, there have been numerous publications both in the media and on television bringing awareness to this horrible tragedy.  One of high popularity and attention is the song Pumped Up Kicks by Foster The People which debuted in 2010 and has received a lot of public attention. The chorus of the song which sings, “All the other kids with the pumped-up kicks you’d better run, better run, outrun my gun…You’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet” has a dark meaning correlated to the Columbine mass shooting that took place in 1999.  The band wrote this song as a tribute to the victims who lost their lives, culturally appealing to the general population as songs and artists are listened to and valued by society.

Video memorial of a Columbine victim

On the morning of December 14, 2012, shortly after 9:30, a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School took place “that left 28 people dead and 2 injured.”[5] Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza first shot his own mother at their home and then took the lives of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary. Afterwards, he proceeded to take his own life. Upon breaching security and invading the school, Lanza first shot the school’s principal, Dawn Hochsprung, and school psychologist Mary Sherlach. Fortunately, the gunshots were heard over the school’s public-address broadcast system and teachers immediately took action to protect their students. Despite their safety protocol and precautions to take cover, Lanza was able to break into Mrs. Lauren Rousseau’s classroom and kill everyone in the room. At around 9:35 AM, law enforcement received their first call from the school and arrived on the scene within minutes. Police found Lanza “near the door to Soto’s classroom, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”[6]This mass shooting was considered to be one of the worst school shootings in history. Yet in 2004, the bill passed by the United States Congress banning the AR-15 gun that Lanza had used, was allowed to lapse. What does this have to say about our culture and values?

VictoryGirlsBlog.com, Nina Bookout

Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting Memorial

At 8:45 on the morning of May 18, 1927, Andrew Kehoe, former Township Treasurer and school board member killed 44 people, one of them being his own wife by setting off explosives at Bath School in Township, Michigan. After he bombed the school, Kehoe “killed himself by detonating a final device in his truck.”[7] As Irene Dunham, former student at Bath School who stayed at home due to being sick described it, “I wish I could really tell you, dear, how awful it was.” This is coming from a 109-year-old woman who survived the influenza pandemic of 1918, the Great Depression and both World Wars, yet considered this tragedy at Bath School to be even more atrocious. The cultural representation here is displayed by the age of this incident and the fact that even in the 2000’s, reporters and investigators are still exploring a mass murder that happened over 80 years ago.

wikipedia.com, Ellsworth, Monty J.

Bath School Shooting, Andrew P. Kehoe

Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Bath all cumulate to form some of the worst mass school shootings/murders that have been recorded in history. As a culture, these events have been impactful, yet instances like these continue to occur. This leads to the conclusion that although society is impacted by cultural beliefs and despite the urgency to accept all types of beliefs, there are still people out there who will take extreme measures to promote their opinions, which wreaks havoc on society. Whether it be ethnic groups, religion, skin color, or any other difference in human composition, there has proven to be a correlation between cultural beliefs and mass school shootings as revealed through patterns in mass murderers’ victims.

School shootings are, for the most part, solely an American phenomenon. Why is this? Some may suggest it is because of the lack of gun control and ethics in the media. In 1994, Bill Clinton signed into law a ban on assault weapons that had an effective period of 10 years. Congress let the law lapse after it expired. After a period of fourteen years, DiMaggio and his coauthors studied the effects of the law, before, during, and after the law was in effect. They concluded that the ban on assault weapons did have a significant impact on the number of mass shootings occurring in America. The study concluded that, “mass shooting fatalities were 70% less likely to occur during the federal ban period” and “the assault weapons ban period was associated with an approximately 85% reduction in mass shooting fatalities.”[8] However, some shooters did not use automatic weapons to carry out their crimes. Many used whatever was already available to them at their own homes.

This argument leads many away from the ethics of gun control and towards the ethics of the media and how these tragedies are reported. Guns have been legal in our country since the ratification of the second amendment in 1791. Why are mass shootings at schools recently becoming such a problem? Advanced weaponry and automatic weapons certainly can aid it, but this cannot be the only reason. What has changed is our culture and reactions to these violent acts. The media glorifies the shooters. Their names are plastered on every TV channel and newspaper. These shooters are almost always ignored or bullied by classmates, but after the shooting, their names are known by everyone. This promotes the next kid who feels the same ostracism to respond the same way and go out in a “blaze of glory.”[9]

Children crying at a Sandy Hook memorial service

In our culture, breaking news is more of a sensational account made for entertainment than for factual retelling of events as they happened. Viewers prefer to watch the entertaining version, so there is capital gain for the companies to put out sensationalized reports. One writer outlines the stages of media coverage as the following: tragic shock, first witness reports, identification of shooter, description of shooter’s character, branding of the shooting, official response and report, and a repetition of the cycle as more information becomes known.[10] Reporters build on the shock as more knowledge becomes available, usually making the shooter out to be a white male who was troubled from bullying, mental illness, and/or a traumatic home life. The shooter is not represented as a monster for the most part. Instead, the media focuses on the fact that they themselves were children, ignoring the dozens of children killed by the shooters. This media encourages future shooters to commit their own heinous acts against their own schools. Studies have shown, “significant evidence that mass killings involving firearms are inspired by similar events in the immediate past, with the highest risk within 13 days.”[11] Thousands of threats against schools were heard in the weeks following Columbine. Apart from just threats, in the 17 years following the Columbine shootings, over 115 school shootings actually occurred.[12] These were in part due to young adult novels, which are a form of media, which were dedicated to the topic of school shootings. The popular song “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People also talks about students running away from a shooter in their school. Many children sang this song when it was popular while giving no thought to the actual lyrics. They were considered to be a normal and ethical part of our culture.

In the news, higher body count is considered to be a more atrocious story, which is, in turn, more entertaining to the masses. Entertaining does not mean that all Americans watching the news are enjoying the stories that are put before them, but, rather simply, that they are watching at all and talking about the stories. Killing more people gives a shooter more media coverage and a longer period in the infamous limelight.[13] Broadcasting and making known the names of these killers tells the story of their troubled pasts. This gives other troubled kids a martyr to look up to. Past shooters, because of the attention they have received, inspire future shooters. According to his diaries and writings found in the investigation following the event, the Columbine and Virginia Tech shooters inspired the Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza.[14] Their stories were made known and resounded with Lanza’s own feelings, leading him to decide that a similar act would get him the attention he desired. To combat this repercussion of reporting, some outlets have begun refusing to name the shooter at all in certain cases.

These tragedies must be reported, but the reports seem to be causing more problems. This is because the reports are not ethical in nature. Children are the victims of school shootings. Children do not understand the culture around them as much as adults do, and are growing up in a traumatic world. Children are not mature enough to handle the visceral reporting styles so often used today, especially when their own peers are the subjects of these reports. A professor at Brown University expressed that “children’s vulnerability means they have right to greater privacy even if such heightened protection is not provided by laws.”[15] Parental consent is not currently required in these situations, and children can be broadcast without their knowledge. The child could be haunted by their own memory of this trauma and doesn’t need a media reminder of the incident. Therefore, protecting the children affected by the tragedy should always be the first priority to the reporters.[16] This ethical reporting that protects victims and doesn’t glorify the immoral criminal could cut down on future shootings more effectively than gun control would.

Another approach to cut down on future shootings would be to prioritize mental health in America. School shootings, although there are more than there should be, are still relatively new and uncommon. Therefore, there is a lack of scientific information surrounding the topic. There is also a lack of a uniformed system to identify a school shooter due to the fact that all cases are different, including the psychology of the shooters. There has been an initiative recently to understand the psychology behind school shooters and mass murders in general. The Safe School Initiative (SSI) has been trying to identify potential threats by making a “threat assessment” for schools.[17] They have strayed away from the idea of making a profile and trying to find children who fit that profile, but instead have made the threat assessment more individualized. Professionals in this capacity would focus on a troubled individual and acquire information about them from the people that know them to see if they are a potential threat and to prevent anything from happening.[18] Although every shooter and school shooting is different psychologically, there are many similarities in the majority of the cases. Typically, the shooters are young white males that have a mental disorder.[19] Most of the time the assailant has depression and feels rejected from society. Shooters can also suffer from schizophrenia and/or an antisocial personality disorder such as sociopathy or psychopathy, but this is not true for all shooters.[20]

Mental illness statistics in America

School shooters often times are depressed to the point where they are suicidal and have lots of built up anger within them.[21] In fact, many times after going on shooting rampages, trying to make a big impact and kill as many people as possible, the shooter kills himself. School shooters are hard to predict most of the time because they typically do not have a history of violent behavior and many make good grades. Although they do not outwardly display violence, many shooters engage in violence through video games, movies, and writing. These offenders also have a history of anger issues and outbursts due to these issues.[22] Although they constantly feel like they are worthless loners, rejected from society, a majority of the time there is an event that can be pinpointed that sets the shooter on their path. Typically, this event is triggering, like being rejected by someone specific. On occasion during the shooting spree, they will target the person who they feel wronged them.[23] These shootings are well thought out beforehand and meticulously planned, the shooter usually is trying to convey a message and go out with a bang.[24] A theme that has been noted is that prior to the incident there is a “leakage” of information about the shooting, where the assailant either tells someone about their plans or it is seen through their writing or schoolwork.[25] Another theme is that there is a lack of closeness at home with their family.

The shooter is not the only person who psychologists look at. The victims and surrounding community are deeply affected as well. The survivors of a shooting are severely impacted because they tend to develop mental health problems. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the most prevalent in survivors as well as Major Depressive Disorder. The distress from the incident can also lead to alcoholism and substance abuse. Most of the time, with help from professionals the effect from these disorders can be reduced over time. There are many different reactions survivors may have after a school shooting. After time, some survivors develop a newfound appreciation for life, because they know that that could change quickly. Others, especially people who were closer to the incident or victims, tend to continue to have mental health issues. The closer in proximity or relation the person is, the more severely their mental health is impacted. The community is affected too, and people tend to feel unsafe in public places. Females and people of lower socioeconomic status tend to develop more problems with their mental health as well. Having a strong support system is critical in the recovery process, as people without a support system tend to feel the effects of mental disorders more than those with one.[26] Victims and survivors have a plethora of emotions after a shooting. Mental health care professionals are necessary to help them sort through these emotions and overcome disorders. Even if the survivors do not use the professional’s help, it is good for their mental health to know that the resource is there if they need it and that people are there for them. Although children tend to bounce back faster than adults, mental health professionals need to stay and help the survivors long term because for many, the effects will still be present and they will need help coping.[27]

In conclusion, school shootings are a result of cultural, ethical, and scientific factors. As seen, there are many examples of shootings being influenced by other shootings. Shooters see people with similar mentalities and carry out their own crimes in response to get the same glorification. This is representative of their mental health problems that are usually undiagnosed or untreated. This produces the frightening culture of America and the fear children have of going to school, not knowing whether or not they will make it home that day.

 

Footnotes

[1] Britannica.com. “Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.” Last modified July 3, 2018. Accessed February 19, 2019. https://www.britannica.com/event/Newtown-shootings-of-2012

[2] Ibid. https://www.britannica.com/event/Newtown-shootings-of-2012

[3] Lansing State Journal. “Bath School bombing.” Last modified May 11, 2017. Accessed February 29, 2019. Greco, Rachel. “Bath School Bombing: Oldest Surviving Student Recalls ‘how Awful It Was’.” Lansing State Journal. May 11, 2017. Accessed February 19, 2019. https://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/news/local/2017/05/11/bath-school-bombing-oldest-surviving-student-recalls-how-awful/101194330/.

[4] History.com. “Columbine Shooting.” Last modified October 3, 2018. Accessed February 19, 2019. https://www.history.com/topics/1990s/columbine-high-school-shootings

[5] Shultz, James M., Glenn W. Muschert, Alison Dingwall, and Alyssa M. Cohen. The Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting as Tipping Point. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. Disaster Health. Taylor & Francis, 2013. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.4161/dish.27113

[6] “Connecticut Shooting: Hero Teacher Died Saving Students : Vicki Soto.” Www.vidinfo.org. Accessed March 21, 2019. http://www.vidinfo.org/video/9426634/connecticut-shooting-hero-teacher-died-saving.

[7] AJC. “The Worst School Shootings in US History.” Last modified February 28, 2018. Accessed February 19, 2019. https://www.ajc.com/news/national/what-are-the-worst-school-shootings-modern-history/FBUBa7KF4zJRooAHIkm6JI/

[8] C. DiMaggio, et al, Changes in US Mass Shooting Deaths Associated with the 1994-2004 Federal Assault Weapons Ban (Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, 2019).  https://journals.lww.com/jtrauma/fulltext/2019/01000/Changes_in_US_mass_shooting_deaths_associated_with.2.aspx.

[9] Colion, Noir, How the Media Helps Killers Inspire Killers, (NRATV, 2018). https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/388750-nratv-host-mass-shootings-are-a-creation-of-our-so-called

[10] Jennifer Murray, Mass Media Reporting and Enabling of Mass Shootings, (Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies 17, no. 2, 2017), 114-124.  https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1532708616679144

[11] Ibid. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1532708616679144

[12] Gwynne Ellen Ash and Jane M. Saunders, From “I Don’t Like Mondays” to ‘Pumped Up Kicks’: Rampage School Shootings in Young Adult Fiction and Young Adult Lives, (Children’s Literature in Education 49 (1), 2018), 34-46. http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=6&sid=f502e047-752e-4fbb-97ce-7df47fac56eb%40sdc-v-sessmgr01

[13] Ibid. http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=6&sid=f502e047-752e-4fbb-97ce-7df47fac56eb%40sdc-v-sessmgr01

[14] Murray, Mass Media Reportinghttps://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1532708616679144

[15] Margaret Paccione-Dyszlewski, Trauma, Children, and the Media: What Is Ethical Coverage, (Brown University Child & Adolescent Behavior Letter 29 (3), 2013), 8. https://auth.lib.unc.edu/ezproxy_auth.php?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=85740621&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

[16]Ibid. https://auth.lib.unc.edu/ezproxy_auth.php?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=85740621&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

[17] Modzeleski, William, and Marisa Reddy Randazzo, School Threat Assessment in the USA: Lessons Learned from 15 Years of Teaching and Using the Federal Model to Prevent School Shootings, (Contemporary School Psychology, Heidelberg, 2018). https://search.proquest.com/docview/2108767371?pq-origsite=summon.

[18] Ibid. https://search.proquest.com/docview/2108767371?pq-origsite=summon.

[19] Gerard, F. J., et al, Offender and Offence Characteristics of School Shooting Incidents, (2015).  https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jip.1439

[20] Kraft, Sheryl, Inside the Mind of Nikolas Cruz and Other Mass School Shooters, (CNBC, 2018).  https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/15/inside-the-mind-of-nikolas-cruz-and-other-mass-school-shooters.html

[21] Modzeleski, William, and Marisa Reddy Randazzo, School Threat Assessment in the USA.  https://search.proquest.com/docview/2108767371?pq-origsite=summon.

[22] Gerard, F. J., et al, Offender and Offence Characteristics.  https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jip.1439

[23] Ibid. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jip.1439

[24] Ibid. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jip.1439

[25] Ibid. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jip.1439

[26] Lowe, Sarah, and Sandro Galea, The Mental Health Consequences of Mass Shootings, (Sage Journals, 2015). https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1524838015591572

[27] Novotney, Amy, What Happens to the Survivors, (2018).  https://www.apa.org/monitor/2018/09/survivors

41 Comments

  1. I think that it was an interesting that they examined the effect the media has on our view concerning mass shootings. How does the media shape policy decisions concerning gun control and mental illness? I also did not know that there was such a high prevalence of mental disorders in the United States (1 in 5 adults). How does this factor change how we view school shooters and how we shape legislation following mass shootings?

  2. o Very good article. I have to admit, the picture the authors used for the Columbine shooters just plays right into the school shooter rhetoric. We show the shooters faces in positive lights, when we did not need to see their face at all. The victims (which they put one video image of for one student) is more important. When we analyze the effects of these shootings we need to see the victims, but the criminals. The smiling pictures of these seeming, “innocent” white males’ plays into the “lone wolf” and “bullied” school shooter rhetoric. Also, I am completely at a loss of words seeing the research on Bill Clinton’s ban on assault weapons. If research shows it decreased 70% less likely and 85%reduction in mass shooting fatalities then why does congress not act on it? The government is supposed to create an safe country and provide services for us. It is their job. Yet they cannot do it because of their own greed and affiliation with interest groups like the NRA.

  3. Blake Matthews

    April 21, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    This post was extremely moving as I, and I assume many others, are affected by this through the recent news and other outlets. I believe your group did a good job in summarizing what effect this publicity may have on other school shootings. However, I think I would have been easier to conceptualize and reduce personal bias if this publicity or American gun laws were compared to other cultures. More so, the part on mental health and well-being was well done, especially because you mentioned the well-being of the community as well as the individual shooters. By doing so, I was able to get the bigger picture from the effects that these events have on people. Lastly, while I enjoyed the video and found it moving, I think you should have better included it in your ethical/cultural discussion. This could have proven valuable in discussing the effects it has on the community.

  4. I agree that mental health in America still has a negative stigma, and working towards normalize mental illnesses will help encourage people with this burden to seek some sort outlet and help. I also wanted to commend on your comments on how we as a society see tragedy depicted in everyday media, often stories like these are looked upon with sympathy, but we say no change in legislation or mental health action initiatives.

  5. Madeleine Smith

    April 22, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    The video used at the very beginning regarding the Columbine shooting and the victims of it really got to me. I think everyone can agree school shootings are horrible tragic incidents and for me it is especially disturbing to think of kids being driven to kill people their own age and then kill themselves. I think the video was powerful in showing the name, age, and image of every victim and is especially moving because it’s easy to look at these events and realize they’re horrible but if you really think about the fact these kids had parents, siblings, lives, and these events are so random it could have happened at any high school even our own. And, how horrible to think they were here one day and then gone the next and while there are ways of trying to prevent stuff like this from happening there is no concrete fool proof method and the shooter will find a way if they truly want to. This post also talks about how once a someone commits a shooting they become essentially famous because their name is posted everywhere which I agree with but what is the alternative? The news crews don’t mention the shooter at all but that still gives some publicity? It’s difficult to recognize that the media could be the problem but it is essentially an irreversible staple in our everyday lives and people are in a sense fascinated with hearing horrible things. Also mentioned in this post was that America seems to be the only country that has school shootings and that it was relaxed gun control that was the potential reason but I wish I could have know more about the reasons and statistics in other countries.

  6. The use of questions to guide the reader’s thoughts as they read was a very effective tactic used throughout this article. The quote from Irene Dunham was extremely impactful, specifically the emphasis on how she ranks the 1927 school bombing as one of those most horrible experiences she ever had despite living to witness both World Wars. Learning about how severe the influence of culture is in America’s decisions regarding gun laws and regulations was also interesting, especially when given statistics such as those which displayed a drop in the number of mass shooting fatalities during the period in which assault weapons were banned. It is interesting to consider that America’s culture typically avoids the discussion of death, and that it avoids taking legitimate steps to minimize what seems like an obvious source of danger: guns. The question remains: what about America’s culture is so inflexible that the gun laws remain unchanged despite several mass tragedies?

  7. This post was very interesting as they examined the effect that publicity has on other school shootings and the shooters themselves. After watching the Columbine video, I am at a loss for words because of the horrific tragedy that occurred. Being able to see the victims’ names, ages, and the pictures really put what happened into perspective and to show that they are real people with real parents, siblings, and friends that really miss them. I couldn’t imagine going to school, on a normal day, and having to go on lockdown because a shooter has entered the school for no good reason. In the post, it was stated that news media covers the shooter heavily and should focus more on the victims, who really matter, but what is another way to broadcast the different shootings that would still give the viewers the information on the person responsible for this crime? I agree that the victims should be highlighted more and shown tribute but I believe we also need heavy coverage on the one who is to blame for the many lives that were taken.

  8. Throughout reading this article, I continued to think about why people decide to perform school shootings, and I kept thinking about how these events are discussed in the media and what effect this must have. Also, the discussion of how the shooters are depicted in the media was very interesting, focusing more on the shooter’s life leading up to the crime rather than the crime itself. Why do you think the media does this? The cultural aspects of this article were very interesting and insightful in trying to understand why these school shootings continued to be repeated over the course of time. Overall, this article was very accurate, in my opinion, and also very cohesive. 

  9. Overall, this post offered a greater insight into the tragedy of school shootings that we are unfortunately all too familiar with. Additionally, I think it raised some important questions regarding the best solutions to eliminate gun violence. For example, knowing that the media likes to focus on the shooter and almost glorify him/her, what can we do to let the rest of the nation know what happened, but not focus on the shooter so he/she gets what he/she is seeking after (glory and fame). In other words, would it be beneficial to solely focus on the victims and give no attention to the shooter? I think it is also very important to note that many shooters have similar characteristics (obviously not all, but many), so both parents and friends need to be on the lookout for these traits so that one day mass shootings can be eliminated for good.

  10. I believe one of the biggest reasons mass shootings (in schools, or anywhere else for that matter) have been allowed to be carried out is the bi-partisan political environment of America. There is no longer any middle ground. It is a “us vs them” environment. It is no longer about good policy, or protecting the interests of Americans. It is about winning the elections, and being on the “right side of history.” Yes, maybe one day we will be able to compromise, but in my opinion it seems bleak. Left swingers say “background checks”, right swingers hear “infringement of Constitutional Rights”. It’s interesting to compare the way America deals with mass shootings to the way other countries respond to them. For example, after the New Zealand Mosque shooting, gun control was implemented within the week.

  11. I think this is a critical topic to analyze and confront in relation to this class. Not only does this article discuss the psychological impact school shooting have on the people around them, but it also discusses the cultures of what we see after mass shooting in general. The time and large mass organized murders that resulted after Columbine would suggest that the US would implement more safety drills, routines, and policies to prepare or prevent further events as such from occurring. However, we have to question to what degree can we prepare for a sudden attack such as these? From the Mosque shooting in New Zealand to the attack in Sri Lanka this Easter, these are issues that create sudden tragic death that seem almost impossible to predict or stop.

  12. You all did a good job in integrating all three approaches on the subject. Unfortunately, school shootings are a part of the American culture and it definitely needs to change. While there is no denying that school shootings are more prevalent in the United States than other countries, it would be interesting to see how we compare to other countries and the difference in mental health policies, gun policies, etc. between the U.S. and another country. Do these factors have as big of an impact as we think they do? Personally, I believe they do, but it would be interesting to compare and contrast the U.S. and a country with low school shooting frequencies.

  13. This topic has been the subject of many ethical conversations I had in high school. One day, my friend asked my teacher, “If I was outside the classroom and the school went under lockdown because of a shooter, would you let me back in the room?” My teacher paused, then proceeded to give us an unclear answer. I think the ambiguity in his answer began to testify that this topic is one worth investigating—to what extent can tragedies like these impact the way we respond in terrifying situations?
    I appreciate that you brought up the song “Pumped Up Kicks” because I am fascinated by the fact that many people didn’t realize it was a song about a school shooting. I think there’s something else we fail to realize at first—something you mention in this paper—that some people refuse to live in a world where not everyone shares their opinions (and they will do whatever it takes, even if that means taking a life, to promote their beliefs). We also don’t realize that we are glorifying these school shootings by publicizing them so much. I recently read a book called Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman, where he argues something similar to your argument—that the media turns tragedies like these into entertainment for the sake of our amusement. You made a great point here, and I also love your point about how we should better promote mental health as a means to reduce the number of school shootings. Your interdisciplinary perspective on this topic is very useful; school shootings do result from myriad factors and their cause should not be reduced to something too simplistic. Your ending gave me chills. Great job, guys.

  14. As sad as this topic is, I found your article very interesting to read. One part resonated with me about the media glorifying the shooters, and these shootings, creating people who want similar attention and are willing to do similar things. Just last week there was an FBI investigation for a women in Florida who was infatuated with Columbine, flew to Colorado and purchased a machine gun days before the 20th anniversary of the event. Over 500,000 students had school cancelled because of her threat. She is no longer a threat, however this proves that these issues are extremely prevalent in today’s media. I also never knew the song Pumped Up Kicks was related to the Columbine shooting, proving exactly the point you made about it being a “normal and ethical” part of our culture. I like how you ended by looking at different approached on how to cut down on these traumatic shootings. I feel like all we ever hear about in the news and politics is gun control, and you looked deeper into the issue. Overall great job!

  15. I like how some paragraphs asked questions, engaging the readers. From my social psychology class, we talked about how media often leads to contagion (the spread of ideas, thoughts, and emotions) which often increases the incidents they portray. So since Columbine High School shooting occurred, bringing awareness on media could have contributed to more shootings in schools. Media displays the shooters in positive light, persuading other troubled people that shooting up a building or school is the way to release their built up anger from the bullying they experienced. Also, it’s confusing that a law ban on weapons often has good outcomes but they lapse and Congress makes no advance actions. This post did a good job in integrating the three approaches. One problem I have with mass murders in schools is how the media portrays the shooters as troubled and mentally ill but not as terrorists. This is where prejudice comes into play because though these shooters often do have mental problems, not labeling them as terrorists but other people of color as so, it just shows how the portrayal is one-sided. Even in the post, mental health was discussed at length, but when talking about terrorists in media no mental health is discussed.

  16. Parian Covington

    April 24, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    I agree that gun laws and mental health have played a very significant role in many of the school shootings and murders that have occurred. If you compare the U.S. statistics of school tragedies to other countries, it makes us look really bad. Since this has become such a huge problem, I think we should look into how other countries are ran in regards to their gun laws and mimic their style. I am not sure how true it is, but it is important to note that, in America, it is easier to buy an automatic gun and there are less restrictions around it than there are for buying a handgun. I also think video games such as Call of Duty and other shooting games may play a role in why people are committing are these mass shootings.

  17. One thing I find fascinating about this topic is the almost idolizing of these shooters. Showing their faces everywhere, their lives story and more. This, in a way, as stated, inspires other tragedies of the like. Another thing I would like to point is specifically about Columbine. A video by Ask a Mortician made a video on the 20th anniversary of the shooting, talking about all the misconceptions about the story. (Its a lot) Link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EG0PtwYJU0M

  18. This topic is very prevalent in our society since we have witnessed multiple school shootings across our country within our lifetime. I liked how you all incorporated the three mass school shootings over the different time periods as it helps build a case of how long this has been happening in the US. I also feel that there needs to be stricter gun control laws as I believe it will reduce the access to guns and the number of school shootings. The study that was done to show that “mass shooting fatalities were 70% less likely to occur during the federal ban period” and “the assault weapons ban period was associated with an approximately 85% reduction in mass shooting fatalities” was really helpful in building the case of why there needs to be gun control laws. Even if the used guns were not automatic weapons, guns are still too readily available for use. This is one of my favorite post by far.

  19. I found your article very interesting, particularly the way in which you decided to focus on school shootings and how they differ from other mass shootings. This brought to light the question of why schools? I had not realized before this article what an American phenomenon specifically school shootings are. This is intriguing and I found the way which your examined the causation behind this to be helpful. I was also interested to read about the 1927 mass shooting, as I had never heard of this occurrence until now. The history of this American phenomenon is fascinating and deeply tragic.

  20. Cee Cee Huffman

    April 24, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    I think it says something that any individual living in the United States is familiar with each of these tragedies, and I think it is even scarier how many school shootings occur that go underreported. America’s inability to stop these tragedies is unsettling and difficult to understand, but gun laws are one of the most polarizing topics in a divided political environment, so it is not unexpected. At this point, it seems that gun laws have gone from being a question about ethics to a battle for the success of a party’s values. Additionally, I believe it is unethical to show the images and names of these murders unless individuals are still in danger because they do not deserve attention for their evil actions.

  21. This blog post was very well written and I appreciated the in depth analysis of the 3 shootings. It was fascinating to learn that the ban on a assault weapons did not have a significant impact on the number of mass shootings. But, then again people will find a way to do something if they really want to. It was interesting to discover the role the media plays in fostering school shooters. The media tries to milk the story and create entertainment, while not enjoyable news it is still captivating. I also find it interesting how the media chooses to portray school shooters who are white and paint them as a bullied kid versus a terrorist from overseas. Both have killed large groups of people yet get completely different media coverage. School shootings are a largely American phenomenon and I wonder if it is more because of the media and the fame that shooters get rather than a weapon or mental health problem. I appreciate that there is more of an effort to identify school shooters in individual cases rather than creating a profile and trying to match it. I worry that as a country we have become desensitized to mass shootings and almost expect them to occur now. We are saddened, but not surprised and that needs to change.

  22. Yours was one of the articles I chose to read because this is something that has related to me personally. Throughout my middle and high school years, it seemed like a new school shooting was on the news everyday. The fear among students in public schools became so intense that during lockdown drills, we often wondered if it was a drill, or if it could actually be real. Having said that, of course a topic with such a huge impact has been heavily debated. I appreciated you inclusion of the topic of the affect, or lack thereof of banning assault weapons, as gun control is one of the most controversial topics surrounding these tragedies. Another controversial topic that I was pleased to see included was the depiction of school shooters within the media, and the underlying issue of race. I do agree that the media does foster, to some extent, school shooters, but how could this be prevented? Should the media not report at all? Should they report on these issues less? Or does it have to do with the way in which the message is delivered?

  23. Thanks for the post on mass murders in schools. I think it is important to remember that a lot of these killings are done with guns; the issue of guns and school killings are inextricably linked in a lot of ways. These stories are heartbreaking not only for the families and children that have lost their lives but for the way that the system is structured to not recognize and pick up on signs of the mentally ill. In order to improve these situations, I believe that we must do something about limiting access to guns especially for children and also reform the way that we view mental health. This post was very informative on providing information about rates of mental health among shooters and linking the information to the shootings themselves. Overall, great post.

  24. This is an especially sensitive subject across the nation right now. I noticed that this post is framed more through narrative than other posts I’ve read, which feels appropriate—it is, after all, the stories and specific live of these tragedies that are so impactful. I recently read a book about the mother of a school shooter, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and the book focused on one of your statements—school shootings are a very “American” phenomenon. It reflects the glorification of tragedies and media frenzy, while underplaying what really matters—the suffering of the shooters and the reasons behind their actions. The shooters keep getting younger and younger, the victims and perpetrators being children, as you pointed out—what does this say about what the older generations are passing down to the younger?

  25. I think that this post does a good job of discussing how the media portrays mass shootings. I liked how your article discussed three mass shootings in depth. I think that it is interesting that most of the attention of the media goes to the shooter and that they are, in a way, glorifying the shooter. This creates people who would like to get similar attention and will do the same thing to get that attention. I personally believe that our country has become too desensitized to mass shootings, especially ones that occur in schools.

  26. This post does an excellent job in discussing the negative cultural influences mass shootings has on the United States. As I read this post, I found myself thinking about a time where mass shootings were not present in our culture. Though I tried, I could simply not think of a single moment where I did not hear about these atrocities on local news stations and national platforms. I think that, since we have had so much exposure to these events, we have become numb to this specific form of death. Though it is initially shocking to us, we are often quick to scroll past the news on social media and only think about it for a minute before going back to our daily activities. I find this fascinating considering our national phobia of death. To me, I think it is evident, especially through these events, that the United States deals with its phobia of death by shielding the events out of our lives and simply carrying on with our daily routine, in hopes of never recognizing the rough shape our nation is in.

  27. This article did a good job of tackling such a multi-faceted issue. It touched on not only mass murder, but suicide, mental health, implicit racial biases, and gun control. It also emphasized that this is solely an American phenomenon. Which makes one want to explore the aspects of our culture that provide the fertile soil for this kind of mass killing. One major issue that was pointed out in this article was our collective desensitization to these kind of events. For us they are almost a norm. This exemplifies the way that objectively unethical acts can be culturally normalized. They took an interesting angle by suggesting that an adjust in the way the media responds to these tragedies could be integral in preventing them in the future. As terrible as it is, it seems that mass shootings are almost good for media outlets, and they tend to get a lot of nationwide attention. It seems unsettling that the media seems to profit from something that is causing many immense grief. I definitely agree with the fact that the media’s glorification of these murderers encourages future attacks; however, I don’t believe that is the only cultural aspect at play. Perhaps it would be important in the future to study the ways that American culture seems to foster these mass shootings; which I believe will have several layers.

  28. I picked to read this post because as students this topic relates so deeply to us. Having read literature about Columbine and seeing the horrific news stories about school shootings as I aged through the school system, this topic is definitely one that haunts me. The approach this article took was very strong in that it did not classify this issue in only one way. Breaking down school shootings into the many pieces that must be considered is incredibly important, especially when trying to figure out how to combat them in the future. The suggested solutions are very well thought out, although I do wonder if they are too idealistic. When considering the lack of progress so far, do you honestly think any of these things can get done? Also, the quotes and narratives you incorporated made the piece even stronger also. Great job!

  29. Mass school shootings are such tragedy in America and every else in the world. The biggest question that comes up is “why?”. Why do these individuals do this? Mass shootings not only impact the mental health of the families of the victims but the whole world. Leaving so many people in heartbreak, shootings are due to so many reasons such as mental issues and hate crimes. By introducing major shootings in the article, we are able to understand and see the impact they cause and how exactly devastating they are. Being almost impossible to prevent, how can we deal with these criminals after they commit these shootings? and how can we deal with the consequences they cause? What should be the punishment for these criminals? One big thing we can do is to more guidelines on the access to guns, especially to teens. Overall, a very interesting and moving article that shows the problems of today’s society.

  30. Unfortunately, mass murders, particularly mass shootings, are a prominent issue in the United States. This article thoroughly addresses this pressing issue, giving many examples of past shootings/bombings, describing the cultural stigma around mass murders, and addressing the psychological challenges typically faced by the murderers. One interesting point in this post that really stuck with me was that media can sometimes portray these mass murders in a way that makes them seem more entertaining than they are upsetting. Of course, the media wants to attract attention, but it seems very wrong to make a mass murder a form of entertainment. This immediately brought my memory back to the school shooting in Florida in February of 2018. During the shooting, some students took video of what was happening (in which viewers could actually see some dead bodies). These videos were and still may be accessible on the internet, meaning that even children may be able to search and find them. These types of videos may be inappropriate to have accessible to children – or anyone really. It removes the emotion from the mass murder and dehumanizes those that were killed. Should there be regulations on what the media can say about these mass murders?

  31. Well done on this article! This subject matter is obviously very sensitive, and it can be a real challenge to start a meaningful conversation about something so horrific. I would have liked to see a little more about what effective gun control would actually look like in the United States. Some other nations, like Australia, have implemented strategies that seemed to work very well for them. It would be interesting to see an analysis of the potential cultural impacts and nuances of implementing a gun control system modeled after another nation’s.

  32. It is sad to see the increase in school shootings over the past several years. I believe that school shootings have become so frequent that they are not treated with much concern, since people often hear about another new incident that has occurred. In high school, I presented a project on the Columbine shooting, which shed light on a bevy of information regarding the increased prevalence of school shootings after the notorious Columbine incident. This phenomenon is known as copycat killing, which is when a person idolizes a scenario of murder and attempts to replicate it. In the case of Columbine, this school shooting was heavily publicized and spread across the country, which ultimately contributed to the rise in school shootings. My question is, how have the news reports of school shootings desensitized individuals to the impact of such events? Also, how does an extensive portrayal of a particular shooting give rise to other similar events?

  33. I thought your posting was very interesting. I find it extremely unsettling that mass shootings are still such an issue even in today’s society. I also find it curious that school shootings are mainly specific to America. Why is this so, and what can we do as a society to change this? Legislation may be one answer but one must also consider the difficulty in placing increased regulation on weapons, especially firearms. I strongly disagree with the fact that the media shines such a glorious light on the shooters as you mentioned in your article. Although the media should certainly provide details of the tragedy, I think the glorification would only serve to encourage others to follow in the footsteps of the culprits which is something that is trying to be prevented. I also thought it was quite shocking to learn that in the past 17 years, there have been 115 school shootings. This statistic makes it seem imperative that we find ways to prevent such tragedies in the future. Overall, I thought this posting brought up various intriguing points and was well-written. Good job!

  34. This post was especially intriguing to me because of how unfortunately relevant these types of shootings have been recently. After the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year, there were many threats of potential shootings or bombings in my school district. Although unsubstantiated, they created a sense of fear and tension in my school, to the point where over half of the students actually did not come to school one day. Schools should be a safe place for learning, not a place of worry. These shootings and threats of possible shootings are far too common, and I appreciate that you looked into possible solutions to address the various causes of this problem. For the individual assessments of threat, how would those be administered? How would the threatening individuals even be identified in the first place in order to acquire sufficient risk information? I found your post very interesting as a whole, especially the part that discussed how the media perpetuates these shootings by making them entertaining and focusing on the shock factor, as well as humanizing the shooter. I had never really considered media to be much of a problem before reading this. How should these events be reported in order for them not to continue the problem?

  35. I appreciated the sincere and thought-provoking look at America’s gun problem that was explored in this post. I did not realize that President Clinton signed an assault weapon ban, and I was dissapointed but not surprise to learn that Congress let it lapse. I think the point about how the media sensationalizes and almost hypes up the shootings and the shooter is an important one, and I often wonder what blame the media shares in our current culture of guns and violence. It’s also interesting to think about the Kehoe case, as it occured a lot earlier in American history and before the age of assault weapons. Kehoe did not have access to these high powered weapons, yet instead he used explosives to wreak havoc on a school. Does this mean that legislative methods to control guns are futile? No. I’d suggest, however, that part of America’s gun/violence problem lies in a culture that glorifies violence and fame.

  36. This post does a lot of good. It shows the atrocity of the worst mass shootings in US history, tackles speculated theories on mental health, and manages to relate attempts to regulate automatic weapons as part of an overarching informative piece. I was also fascinated by the claim that body count affected the “entertainment” that people seem to get from the mass murders. It ties into how people are fascinated by death, and people mostly feel pain and sadness by the loss of life, they are intrigued by it at the same time. Would this be a product of the media trying to exaggerate the incident, or is it a byproduct of years of cultural shifts in viewing death?

  37. This is a topic that myself and many other Americans must unfortunately discuss far too often. This article did a good job in presenting the many factors that can cause these mass shootings, such as gun legislation in the United States or lack of mental health care. I also like how this article mentioned the role the media played in these shootings. They control the way people perceive these shootings, as they are the primary source of information. It is interesting how you talked about how the coverage of these shootings are entertaining to the public, in that they capture the attention of the public and have people constantly checking for updates.
    I think that if there is going to be a change in American culture where mass shootings are no long regularly occurring events, it has to start with the media and how they cover these stories. In addition, not only do people need to emphasize a change in American gun laws, but also the way our mental health care system is set up. I think something else I would like to see in this article would be steps that can be taken to prevent these mass tragedies from occurring in the first place.

  38. This post did a great job to capture the very moving subject of school shootings and the way the people who carry out these horrible tasks are presented in the media. I found the information regarding mental illness to be very interesting as it only added to the depth with which I could understand why someone would carry out such an act. The common act to attempt and humanize the murderers through media was also apparent in some of the attached media which helped tie in a lot of your major points. I wish there was a bit more of a global tie however, as in is there any similarity or difference in the way media elsewhere presents the people who carry out horrible crimes like this? Would these people even get the recognition to be shown through media elsewhere or would more focus be place on different areas of the crime? The culture surrounding these types of things in other countries seems like something that I would want to further dive into to gain a better grasp on the subject matter.

  39. This topic caught my eye because it has some similarities between my own group: Suicide bombing in America, in which there were two cases of school bombings that killed multiple people. This group also included analysis of the Bath School Bombing which my group also spoke about. This topic choice of the group, I feel, is very relevant to today’s issues and society as there have been too many public shootings recently. I thought it was very interesting and important that this group covered the role that media had been playing in these stories because it does seem like tragedies are sensationalized in a way that almost encourages future acts, and this is rarely spoken about of admitted by the news networks that cause this. I also really like that this group thought about a mental health proportion because we are still a very closed society when it comes to speaking about these issues. This project was extremely good about offering details into how we might be able to prevent these events and the events themselves were also explained well.

  40. You did a great job in covering school shootings in America, which has been in the news far too often recently. I also believe that our news outlets put too much attention on the perpetrator(s), which sensationalizes their lives and often troubled history in front of the entire world. In doing so, news outlets place less emphasis on the victims of school shootings. I believe this pattern needs to change because publicizing the perpetrator’s lives may possibly inspire future shootings, which has happened in the past.

    Something else that is underreported is the mental health problems that often arise among the survivors of a school shooting. Most are under the age of 18, and many will have to go to school for a long time afterwards. I believe mental health professional could focus more on groups that tends to develop more health health issues. I believe support groups are crucial, so that survivors of a school shooting have the option of talking about their feelings in an open environment.

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