School shootings are something we have all heard about by now. It seems as if they happen so often that we can’t even keep track of how many there have been in 2018 alone. To most, this is a fact. Another fact by Saeed Ahmed and Christina Walker of CNN in a report titled “There has been, on average, 1 school shooting every week this year” is that in 2018 there have been 22 school shootings averaging out to one a week since we are about 20 weeks into the year. This is including shootings that involved at least one person being shot (not including the shooter), shootings that occurred on school grounds, including grades K through college/university level, gang violence, fights and domestic violence, as well as accidental discharge of a firearm as long as the first two parameters are met. School shootings are a horrendous act that only a monster can commit and most school shootings are done by students themselves. How could any young child commit such a horrible and monstrous act?
This causal analysis will go over what goes through school shooter’s heads and why they decide to ruin the people’s lives around them by going over triggers like exposure to bullying as well as psychological issues. Not only going through the causes of a shooter, but as well as misconceptions of reasons why children can become violent and commit acts such as this topic.
It is stated in an article “School Shootings and Student Mental Health: Role of the School Counselor in Mitigating Violence” By Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC states “According to Lee (2013), there are two leading causes of school shootings: bullying (87%), as well as both non-compliance and side effects from psychiatric drugs (12%). Most school shooters claimed or left evidence behind indicating that they were victims of severe and long-term bullying. The majority of bullying victims experienced feelings of humiliation, which resulted in thoughts of suicide or revenge”. Meaning children who face severe bullying and public humiliation can turn to violent ways of “getting back” at their peers. Now this does not mean that anyone who becomes bullied will become a school shooter. Everyone gets influenced by different things in different ways. For example, if two people received the same insult on the same day by the same person, one could easily brush it off of their shoulders and forget about it within an hour but the other could take it very personal and have it sit in the back of their mind for a very long time. This is because those two individuals are two separate people who have experienced two completely different lives. This doesn’t specifically include physical bullying at school, but also over social media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter. This is a much cruder method of bullying due to the fact that once you post something it cannot truly be removed. It is also worse due to everyone who is on social media can view the offensive posts, meaning the bully on social media has an ever-growing audience. For someone who isn’t mentally strong enough or has a mental illness this kind of bullying or any sort of bullying cannot obviously be helpful or healthy.
Mental illness can be a possible cause of school shootings for many reasons. In an article titled, “School Shootings and Possible Causes” by Justin Nutt, states “Anxiety can lead to fears of the unknown or that the world is against you, as can certain personality disorders and psychotic disorders. Mood and anxiety disorders can lead to feelings of hopelessness and feeling as though one is powerless to change what is wrong with a person’s life. Mania (though a symptom not a disorder) can lead to a lack of control and impaired reasoning about an event or action.” Again, this does not mean anyone who has a mental illness such as anxiety is a dangerous individual. Mental health issues can lead an individual to feel that the only option is to lash out at the world or that the only way they can show others how they feel is to show them or make them feel the pain being felt. According to LA Times writers Grant Duwe and Michael Rocque, at least 59% of the 185 public mass shootings that took place in the United States from 1900 through 2017 were carried out by people who had either been diagnosed with a mental disorder or demonstrated signs of serious mental illness prior to the attack. Mental illness isn’t the determining factor to school shootings or mass shootings in general but it does play a role in the act. As well as the media, these shooters are always deemed mentally ill as if it were a defense to their actions when in reality they should be deemed as monsters and terrorists like anyone else would be.
It is a very common misconception that violent video games cause mass shootings. It is a far-fetched claim that one would make to assume violent media is the root cause or any cause at all to mass shootings. Millions of children around the country play the most popular video games that happen to be extremely violent and hardly any of them will touch a firearm in their life. This type of media isn’t just pertaining to video games but movies as well. Today’s society is overly saturated in violence it is almost like a rite of passage to watch a violent movie or play a violent video game. “In a 2005 essay for PBS, Henry Jenkins, a professor at the University of Southern California, said that juvenile crime in the United States was at a 30-year low even though large numbers of young people play video games.” (Salam and Stack 2018). In the same New York Times article also states “Researchers find that people serving time for violent crimes typically consume less media before committing their crimes than the average person in the general population,” When it comes to video games, the overwhelming majority of kids who play do not commit antisocial acts.” There are more people serving time in jail for violent crimes and consuming minimal violent media than there are people serving time for the same reason but have consumed violent media.
This epidemic isn’t going to magically stop happening at our schools around this country but there should be ways for schools and community members to help those affected by these dark days that seem to happen more often than they should. Many perpetrators again, were bullied for prolonged amounts of time. The schools should see this as an opportunity to have school leaders and counselors to lead groups and address the issues that bullying causes. “School counselors can teach students a variety of techniques that they can use to lessen bullying, including fogging (verbally agreeing with the bully), negative enquiry (challenging what the bully is saying), assertiveness training (using ‘I’ messages), journaling, and setting specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely (SMART) goals to reframe the focus from being a victim of bullying to feeling empowered and taking control of one’s life by accomplishing goals (Alexander, 2003). Steering bullying prevention groups can assist students to feel better about themselves and teach them not to suppress negative comments, which in turn will help to create a safer, more inclusive school climate and hopefully diminish retaliatory behaviors.” Preventative measures like these will not completely vanquish this epidemic that is going on but it can surely help in doing its intentions which is preventing the causes such as bullying and helping others see the lighter side of things instead of taking revenge on other students in a horrendous way.
School shooters can be categorized in multiple monster theses’ written by Jeffery Cohen. For example, in Thesis 2: The Monster Always Escapes, it states; “We see the damage that the monster wreaks, the material remains, but the monster itself turns immaterial and vanishes, to reappear someplace else.” In this case the monster is the idea and act of becoming a school shooter by committing the act of ruining lives and vanishing (Getting arrested or dying from police or by self.). Then reappearing as another student at another school and makes the cycles happen again and again. In Monster Theory 3: The Monster is the Harbinger of Category Crisis stating “it refuses easy categorization… defying every natural law of evolution; by turns bivalve, crustacean, reptilian, and humanoid. It seems capable of lying dormant within its egg indefinitely.” These shooters turn against their own kind in a very aggressive way and in turn renounce their human idealistic behavior and become monsters. They lay dormant in their own mind, plotting their revenge or their “reason” for their crimes in a fashion that seems downright inhumane. Although they are human, once they commit their act they are anything but.
Bullying, mental disorders, mixed with an individual who could not grasp the value of life can be deemed as a sufficient cause to a mass shooting at a school. When an individual reaches a threshold of being looked down on with the feeling of pain and helplessness can turn into a much more gruesome setting if they decide they no longer value human life. These causes are not excuses and these monstrous individuals should all be viewed as terrorists.
Ahmed, Saeed, and Christina Walker. “There Has Been, on Average, 1 School Shooting Every Week This Year.” CNN, Cable News Network, 18 May 2018, http://www.cnn.com/2018/03/02/us/school-shootings-2018-list-trnd/index.html.
This source shows the amount of mass shooting that have happened in the year of 2018. Stating that we are averaging 1 school shooting per week since mid May. I used this source to bring perspective oh how many shootings we have been dealing with this year alone. I also use it to prove this is an epidemic that is actually taking place in this country. This source is reliable due to it having millions of viewers nightly as well as an extraordinary amount of people use it as their primary source of news.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture: Seven Theses.” From Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. 3-25.
This journal describes the monsters in and around our culture. Providing seven theses on monster theory. I used this journal to tie school shooters to monsters in our culture, involving theses two and three. This is a reliable source due to it being a scholarly source provided from my professor.
Nutt, Justin. “School Shootings and Possible Causes.” Social Justice Solutions, 1 Oct. 2015, http://www.socialjusticesolutions.org/2013/12/14/school-shootings-possible-causes/.
This source summarizes the possible causes of school shootings. Possible causes mainly focused on mental illness. I used this article to show how mental illness can be a playing role in ones decision to cause a school shooting.
Paolini, Allison. “School Shootings and Student Mental Health: Role of the School Counselor in Mitigating Violence.” https://Www.counseling.org, http://www.counseling.org/docs/default-source/vistas/school-shootings-and-student-mental-health.p.
This article summarizes how bullying and drug use can be one of the leading causes to a school shooting. It also demonstrates how there are preventative measures that can be taken in regards of the shootings. I used it to show what percent of shooters have been exposed to bullying and ways the schools can be more involved in the community before and after an attack. This article is reliable because it is written by multiple doctors and it posted by a counseling community pertaining to psychology.
Rocque, Grant Duwe and Michael. “Actually, There Is a Clear Link between Mass Shootings and Mental Illness.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2018, http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-duwe-rocque-mass-shootings-mental-illness-20180223-story.html.
This article states that there is a link between mental illness and school shootings. This isn’t saying it is a determining factor to the shootings but a role in them. I used this article to back my claims that mental illness is a playing role In school shootings. It is a reliable source because the LA times is a very respected news outlet viewed by millions of readers.
Salam, Maya, and Liam Stack. “Do Video Games Lead to Mass Shootings? Researchers Say No.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 Feb. 2018, http://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/23/us/politics/trump-video-games-shootings.html.
This article provides information pertaining to video games not having a role when a mass shooting takes place and that violent media does not make an individual violent. I used this article to provide information that violent media does not causes school shooting or cause a person to become violent. The New York Times is a very well respected news outlet read by viewers across the country. (This is the weakest essay I have ever written.)