Schools are anticipated to provide children with maximum physical and emotional safety and foster their full-fledged development. Thus, school shooting incidents are taken as unbearable tragedies, leading to substantial media attention. From my perspective, active attempts to rationalize and explain mass murderers’ behavior by attracting attention to their personal lives are not always productive. By this, mass media sources can unintentionally romanticize these lonely and rejected individuals whose mental instability eventually takes such terrible forms.
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On the one hand, media coverage of the Columbine shootings, Sandy Hook shootings, and similar events can lead to positive social changes if the accents are placed on learning from the incident. As Kendall (2018) explains, aside from informational purposes, media attention to the Columbine Massacre was aimed at starting a productive dialogue and reporting research on the predictors of school violence, such as the number of enrolled students. This might exemplify crime prevention authorities’ genuine desire to take an objective look at such tragedies and explore factors and security systems’ deficiencies that support offenders in fulfilling their goals.
On the other hand, news article writers’ and reporters’ focus is sometimes narrowed to the offender’s personality traits, mental issues, acquaintances’ memories, and other personal facts. As I believe it can spark other mentally unstable people’s interest, encouraging them to develop a philosophy of mass murder and form groups to copy their idol’s violent behaviors. According to Kendall (2018), each school killing only “intensifies our fright and heightens our concern” regarding schools’ actual safety (p. 395). If the media attention to Columbine-like crimes is ubiquitous and emphasizes society’s uncontrollable fear, it might further provoke potential offenders to play on their community’s feelings and take vengeance for something. Based on psychotherapy research, the cases of obsession with mass murderers, including Columbine shooters, are not uncommon and can be correlated with the desire to join organized Islamic extremist movements (Suit, 2017). Therefore, my position is that extensive personality-centered media coverage can give people with mental illness or aggression control issues an idea that they have like-minded people, thus leading to links and communication between violent individuals and further crime.
Kendall, D. (2018). Sociology in our times: The essentials (11th ed.). Cengage Learning.
Suit, M. (2017). Dreaming of Columbine: Exploring an offender’s preoccupation with the Columbine Massacre. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 31(4), 355-366. Web.