Tuesday, February 20, 2018

School Shootings

I suppose that everyone has heard about the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida by now. It was a horrible tragedy, and I hope President Trump does something about it. He and John Kasich were the only two Republican candidates likely to do anything, in regards to gun control laws.

I was reading a psychology textbook that week, and the book discusses the Werther Effect, which is more commonly known as "copycat suicides". Whenever there is a well-publicized suicide, like that of Robin Williams, the suicide rate increases by a huge amount, as lots of other people commit suicide. It stays high for four whole months, including the month of the original suicide. Research indicates that this goes for pretty much every form of death, not just suicide. For example, the number of car crashes went up, after Princess Diana's well-publicized death in a car crash.

The book specifically mentions mass shootings as being subject to the Werther Effect. Whenever there's a mass shooting, it's more likely there will be another one in the next four months. Sadly, this research sounds 100% correct to me; I don't think we've gone more than four months without a mass shooting in a long time. I wish there was a way to stop these copycat crimes. Maybe if news networks changed the way they reported mass shootings? Copycat crimes are sometimes limited to age and gender, so maybe withholding the perpetrator's age and gender would help?

I know some people have suggested that the media never report on mass shootings, to lower the chances of one happening, but that seems like burying your head in the sand and ignoring tragedies.

Other people have suggested the exact opposite: report on mass shootings more often. Some news outlets said this was the eighteenth school shooting this year, but it was the first one that made national news. If all eighteen shootings had made national news, and school shootings were constantly reported on, it would create humongous public pressure for Congress to do something.

Then again, I've seen people debate the claim that there have been eighteen school shootings this year. That statistic refers to the number of times a gun has been fired at school, including accidents, times where no one was injured and times no students were present. (Apparently, shooting a school window is more common form of vandalism than I believed.) Sadly, it also includes a number of suicides and murders, which are awful, but they don't technically count as "mass shootings", since there is only one victim. The real number of school shootings is more like three or four, which is more than bad enough. There's no need to lie and inflate the number.


Avreigh said...

That's really interesting, I've never heard of the Werther Effect before but it's definitely something I'll look into. I'm just now getting into politics since I'm a teen, but I think this has really made it obvious that I need to. I'm with you in hoping Congress does something instead of dragging their feet. Really interesting post!

Anonymous said...

I know there are many who want the media to stop reporting the name/face of the perpetrator. They don’t want the media to stop reporting on school shootings altogether, but want to have the media stop displaying the name of who did it. Witholding age/gender could be a good idea to stop copy cats too.