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Research Proposal Autism

In: English and Literature

Submitted By chanan
Words 742
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Research Proposal, Draft 1 It’s the morning of December 15, 2012, a day after the Sandy Hook Elementary Shootings involving twenty-year old Adam Lanza. After having to support by brother through the intense fear of being looked at differently for his disability following the shooting, I found the topic of the media scapegoating Asperger Syndrome as a main factor in school violence relevant to our class. As school violence has grown in the past twenty-five years, the media has similarly sensationalized the many killers, often times looking to diagnose them with some sort of mental illness instead of digging deeper into the environment of the individuals who commit these acts of violence. In particular, I am interested in examining the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, as well as the UC-Santa Barbara shooting. What I am particularly interested in learning more about is the media’s reaction to these two shootings in conjunction, as one was done at an elementary school with children ages 5-11, whereas the other was done on a college campus. This interests me because Asperger Syndrome is a social disorder, and the social scene of an elementary school is quite different from the social scene of a university.
By providing statistical data, victim and killer testimonials, and historical data, I will make the main claim that the media has sensationalized school shootings and too often jumped to the conclusion that Asperger Syndrome is to blame, instead of investigating the environment surrounding the killer. Moreover, I look to prove the point that the media is, instead, a large enabler of these violent activities, for ever since the rise of mass coverage of school shootings, there has been a significant spike in violence at educational institutions. Overall, I hope my research will bring to light the massive impact the media has on young minds, and hopefully encourage readers to think twice before associating Asperger Syndrome with adolescent violence. As of now, there have been two sides to the debate on why shooters commit their heinous act. The first, and more popularized reason by the media, is that individuals with social disorders such as Asperger Syndrome do not pick up on social cues, experience isolation, and as a result resort to killing. This would be a valid argument if not for the fact that individuals who share this opinion disregard all other environmental factors surrounding the killer, taking the blame away from bullying, incompetent parenting, and sometimes even apathetic teachers. As my sources will support, the media is responsible to keep its ratings up, and covering school violence stories while putting the blame on parenting, child bullies, and teachers would not result favorably with news stations. The second reason, and the one which I more closely align by beliefs with, is that these individuals who have been the subject of bullying and in some cases parental neglect, see killing their peers as a quick way to gain the attention and popularity they’ve been longing for from the national media and community at large. To support the latter reason, I have gathered a variety of sources, including “Bullying In Schools and Its Relation to Parenting and Family Life” by Ken Rigby, which discusses the emotional and social repercussions of bullying and parental neglect in young children. The statistical data in this article, especially in regard to the effect of breast-feeding and its relation to social confidence later in life, will be an interesting issue to pursue in my paper. In addition, Margaret Price’s Mad At School will serve as an excellent source to analyze the media’s role in the increasing trend of school violence. Its use of historical and statistical data regarding the background information of the scapegoating of mental illness in the media will serve as a very useful source in terms of proving that Asperger Syndrome is not always to blame in school shootings. Moreover, its analysis of media and its effect on school children, and how it relates to the increasing trend of school violence, will be an important and integral part of my paper. Ultimately, I hope to bring light to the community of Autism, and convince readers not to automatically associate violence with Autism. If people are more cognizant of media sensationalism, and focus on environmental factors that may shape the life of individuals who end up participating in school violence, then I believe we will have a more open and understanding community.

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