How can we prevent school shootings? What can we change?

Isn’t it awful that we have normalized the shootings at school? After a mass cry for a day, week, or month, we train our brains to continue with our lives. But isn’t it that we remind ourselves that life goes on, no matter what! But sure, it does with the absence of little hands and toes; the laughter, the smiles!
After an upheaval of what we can do to ensure the past doesn’t repeat itself, it continues to numb our senses to do right.
Who do we blame? Ignorance of parents that they let their child grow the evil in their mind to hurt another child? or the evil in society that conditions the young brains to let evil spread. Or have the classroom teachings gone wrong that failed to instill empathy in the young brains?
Or a failure to incorporate legislation to control gun accessibility to protect children at school. No wonder it shows that people love their guns more than their children! We do not want to accept this reality and continue to let the carnage happen again and again and again! Why do we continue to let our children die or imprint their minds with fear of attending school and sadness to see their friends die if they are lucky to stay alive?

To prevent school shootings, we can look at two different perspectives: Why are our children not feeling loved enough that they pick up the guns to kill? Why do young children have access to assault weapons?

What went wrong with our children?

It is a common observation that little children’s most inquisitive brains ask never-ending questions at kindergarten schools. The question arises: Why do some of the brains go inert and not show the same eagerness as they proceed to middle school or, at the high school? Does it have to do with the education system that needs to be re-visited and modified, the pressure of both schools – (academically and socially), conditions at home -( socially and financially), and the peer pressure to do well on every front of the lives?

An article by Cahill mentions the contrast of how “a first grader asks about 300 questions a day while the average high schooler asks less than three.” With the high schools focusing on a 4.0 perfect GPA, the curiosity of the young brains diminishes through the compliance brought upon by the school. On the contrary, the parents focus only on the brain development phase while the kids are young, 2-7. They often lose their mind and push the voices of the growing teens into adults to keep the sanity in the house in all the chaos to work diligently to provide for hefty tuition fees for the colleges. Who is to blame?

Lack of empathy and conflict resolution issue

It is undeniable that middle and high schoolers show the most aggressive behaviors. To combat that and maintain their eliteness, the schools should also focus on problem-solving skills, conflict resolution techniques, anger control, and developing a positive self-concept. Again this guideline gets its setback from the massive population of students in the high schools, where it gets challenging to identify such students who need help. It is crucial to recognize the signs of individuals with weakened social bonds – lack of attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief.
Instead of relying on the school nurses to put their foot forward, every child needs to care for their fellow being- when they see troubling behavior. Is that hard?

The more significant issue is easy access to weapons, including assault rifles

A confidential survey conducted by NIH stated how the students in 9-10 grade confessed to being able to access the guns if they wanted to and have handled one without adult supervision. “Being cool” is mentioned among 3% of the users to carry a concealed weapon. Why not limit the access to assault weapons and other weapons of war by ordinary individuals? David Hemenway, Ph.D., Professor of Health Policy and Director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, notes that no compelling evidence has shown that guns have saved lives when used defensively.

How does Social Media fuel the obsession?

No wonder, in this cyber ager, after every mass violence or shooting, the social media emerges where the trail of such intentions was posted and read by people referred to as – leakage. Why do we often miss the deadly signs posts until the actual incident? We filter the required data in the sea of flooded misinformation on social media such as FaceBook and Twitter. Unfortunately, we do not take action if we see something—how intellectual we are and the most foolish at the same time. So, say something, report it, take action – even when that person is our friend! 

Isn’t it evident that more mass shooting follows the shootings with more excellent media coverage? The bigger the number, the more the media coverage, creating a never-ending circle of obsession. Interestingly, the coverage by news outlets of these incidents creates a ‘media contagion effect.’ According to the American Psychological Association, the harmful elements often desire fame by attaining a more significant number than their precursor. Aren’t we already obsessed with the desire to get enormous likes, shares, comments, followers, and tweets that display the bigger size of cars and houses? Kymissis et al. refer to such behavior as “generalized imitation” rather than “contagion.” People tend to imitate similar behavior by observing a more competent and socially rewarded model. Therefore it is suggested not to highlight the motive for the shooting so that anyone cannot find a resemblance and take a similar course of action. Instead of satisfying the clamor for the news, the media should keep the coverage short to avoid glorifying the shooter and prompt imitation.

How can we prepare the children?

Remind the children that guns do not save lives, but it is the courage to fight back. Had this been case, there were enough cops with guns to protect kids at Rob Elementary School, but the cops were cowards and had no courage to fight. In the current scenario, of all the safety drills (RUN-HIDE-FIGHT) performed at schools, there is more emphasis on hiding than escaping – hiding than fighting back. Why not teach them to run – as fast as they can – run for your life. Make them aware of the back doors, side doors, and how to open the doors? Why not prepare the teachers and kids to fight back – Not with the guns but with their tactical strength and strength in the numbers (20-25 kids, a couple of teachers, and a sole shooter). However, although this approach seems tempting, the actual implementation is complex. It is not realistic to expect frightened children to execute the training that even trained adults can’t make.

What else can we do?

Teach the kids to be resilient- how to effectively process thoughts, behaviors, and actions when confronted with stress instead of acting impulsively by picking up the guns to vent their anger. Make the kids accepted, significant, and loved so that we do not raise kids who don’t feel loved enough and pick the path of violence to kill others.

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