Free Essay

School Shootings

In: Social Issues

Submitted By dubtee
Words 1571
Pages 7
William Tubao
Kaplan
May 7, 2014

The issue of school shootings is important to students and should be to the general public. A school shooting involves an educational institution and a firearm being discharged at its facility. It may also refer to shootings near or on a school bus or near a school when it is in session. School shootings could occur anywhere in the world where firearms are available for access. These types of shootings in particular have generated a political dispute on stricter gun control. There are well known shootings in the United States, Europe, Canada, and other countries. The United States has the highest number of school related shootings. This paper will examine a few of those incidents and compare how the media and academic articles portray them. Overall, media articles show that coverage of school shooting events such as the ones that occurred at Virginia Tech University and Sandy Hook Elementary School tend to primarily focus on the number of victims, reactions of family, the misfortune of the event, as well as the mental state and background of the shootings. For an example, in the Los Angeles Times article “Gunman kills 20 kids, 6 adults at Connecticut elementary school”, they focus on the number of dead, imagery, and the emotion after the shooting such as parent’s reactions and children’s reactions. In the article they seem to dramatize the whole situation by saying things like “Evil visited this community today”. Although it is a tragic event the media seems to focus more on the issue of numbers and emotion. I think that the media might focus on the numbers to catch the reader’s attention. The media does not attempt to look into the reasoning why this person did the things they did, they instead emphasize on the facts. The Los Angeles Times says “Adam Lanza, 20, earlier killed his mother at home and then drove Her Honda to Sandy Hook Elementary School equipped with firearms that were registered to one or both of his divorced parents”. When reading this a person may ask themselves why? Why did he kill his own mother and the elementary school students? Lanza may or may not have been mentally ill but the reader of these articles will never know unless they look further into it. For another example of media depiction of school shootings, in the New York Times article “Virginia Tech Shooting Leaves 33 Dead” the media focuses on the mental stability of the culprit and their background. For instance, the article says “He did not talk. Not to other children, not to his own family. Everyone saw this. In Seoul, South Korea, where Seung-Hui Cho grew up, his mother agonized over his sullen, brooding behavior and empty face. Talk, she just wanted him to talk.” In this article it portrays the killer as strange and possibly mentally unstable. It also discusses various events in his life which led up to the school shooting such as his being bullied as a young child, his obsession with fellow female classmates, as well as his overall quiet and detached nature. The article also describes in detail some of the red flags that showed Cho was suicidal, as well as his erratic behavior before the school shooting. On the contrary, academic articles tended to focus on potential solutions to eliminating the occurrence of school shootings and the inadequacy of current laws and regulations over guns, and the mental stability of the shooter. For an example, in the article, “Madness in America: Holding a Rational Conversation,” writer Deborah Gardner, examines the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting from a psychological health standpoint. She focuses on the need for a health care system that can treat those who are extremely mentally ill to prevent them from engaging in violent actions. She also makes it a point to mention, “While mental illness is often used to explain violent behavior, the reality is people with mental illness do not commit the vast majority of violent crimes, including homicides, in society. It is estimated that 95% of gun violence is committed by people who do not have a diagnosis of mental illness” (Madness in America). Gardner also makes it a point to explain that access to mental health care is limited and there is a need to integrate mental health care more fully into the health care system in general. In the academic article, “The Legal Context of School Violence: The Effectiveness of Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Efforts to Reduce Fun Violence in Schools,” by Richard Redding and Sarah Shalf for an issue of “Law and Policy,” the authors discuss how communities are examining potential law enforce solutions to the apparent spreading of school violence. The article goes into detail about the types of students who carry guns explaining that often, intercity students carry guns as a mechanism of self-defense or as a method of impressing peers. These students are subjected to more violence, troubled neighborhoods, and exposure to gang and delinquent behaviors. Redding and Shalf also mention the concept that it is quite easy for students to obtain guns in their community. For instance “of those students who had previously obtained handguns, 61% said they had acquired their most recent handgun from a friend or family member. The second most likely source was ‘the street,’ while only 11% of students said they had acquired the gun from a gun shop or pawnshop” (The Legal Context of School Violence). Clearly, students are able to acquire guns despite laws being there to prevent these such actions. The article by Shalf and Redding also mentions various gun laws such as the prohibiting of licensed dealers to sell guns to juveniles, Gun Free School Zones Act, and the barring of arms on or near school surroundings. In the end, the article calls for more effective school discipline, the increasing amount of participation the United States federal government must partake in, and finally psycho-educational interventions needed to prevent any violence in schools. In comparison, the media coverage of school shootings such as the tragedy of Virginia Tech University shooting as well as the Sandyhook Elementary School Shooting tend to focus on the tragedy and drama of the events, whereas academically peer reviewed articles do not see this as the main focus. Although the academic articles such as the ones mentioned prior reference how tragic the school shooting events are, they use the description simply as the hook to their writings and then focus on the potential solutions to preventing another school shooting from happening such as more government involvement or a greater integration of mental health care into society. Contrary to this, the media coverage articles gave much more detail into how the victims of the shootings escaped, how parents reacted to finding or not finding out their child is alive, and how mentally unstable to gunman was.
The goal of the media articles was to draw readers in and to dramatize the events. Things such as the number of victims, the number of those who died, the number of guns the culprit had serve as a mechanism to draw readers in. Pictures of the children walking in straight lines from the horror that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School and pictures of the gunman are used to give readers an image of how tragic the event was as well as a face to despise. Within the scholarly articles, no such images were used. In addition, although the number of those who died were mentioned, this information as not written in bold or in any form that would draw attention to the number.
Nevertheless, it seems that media articles and academic articles do coincide. I believe that through the use of media articles, people are able to grasp an image of the event as well as an interest in what had occurred. People in general do not go straight to the library to read articles about school shootings. Rather, they tend to rely on news coverage, articles that pop up on ones email or even Facebook, and articles found in renowned papers such as the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times. Using the interest of the public gained by media articles, scholarly articles are then looked into. People desire answers to why such things happen such as mass school shootings. Scholarly articles can be used to provide answers as well as research behind possible solutions and analyses. In the final analysis, school shootings in general are tragic events. Although media articles and academic articles both play an important role in the coverage of such events, they differ in a number of ways and they are similar in a number of ways.

Works Cited
Gardner, Deborah B. (2013, January/February). “Madness in America: Holdnig a Rational Conversation.”Nursing Economic. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.libproxy.sdsu.edu/ehost/detail?sid=f0cca3fe-21a6-4a4c-b20e-1ca0a9e496a5%40sessionmgr110&vid=11&hid=124&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=85278796
Hauser, Chrstine (2007, April). “Virginia Tech Shooting Leaves 22 Dead.” The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/16/us/16cnd-shooting.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Kleinfield, N. R. (2007, April). “Before Deadly Rage, a Life Consumed by a Troubling Silence.” The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/22/us/22vatech.html?pagewanted=all

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