by Gabby Bishop and Greta Reel
In America, the average gun homicide rate is around 13,000 a year, which is over 25 times the average of other high-income countries. Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, over 400 people have been shot in more than 200 school shootings nationwide.
To students in today’s society, school shootings are no longer the tragic massacre of peers — people with lives and families — but another statistic in their common world.
So the question is: are Americans becoming numb to the consistent violence, and is the media unintentionally glorifying shootings with constant coverage?
Susan Duncan, editor for the Evening News and Tribune doesn’t believe the news is causing romanticization. However, she agrees that gun violence isn’t as surprising anymore.
“You’ve lost the shock factor,” Duncan explained, referring to shootings. “There’s an initial shock, but then there’s also that ‘Oh my gosh, here we go again.’
“But I think to point to the media as unintentionally glorifying, I think that’s a falsehood,” she continued. “If people are getting desensitized, it’s not because we’re writing stories about it — it’s because these things are happening.”
Jeffersonville High School radio/TV teacher Tim Dench thinks teens are becoming desensitized to gun violence.
“Teenagers nowadays think nothing of shootings,” Dench said. “Years ago, when there was a robbery, a shooting, or some crime, it usually involved a 30 or 40-year-old adult…. Now (it’s people) in their young 20s and a lot of times even into their teens; and the younger generation, they think nothing of using guns.”
Dench believes constant coverage of massacres may glorify guns, but the media has to cover it due to First Amendment rights.
“It is news. It’s not good news, but news is news, and it’s the job of the media to report the news,” he continued.
Jeff High sophomore Hailey Lathan believes she, too, is becoming numb to consistent violence.
“So much violence is going on in today’s world it seems as if the world wouldn’t be normal without it,” Lathan said. “I think media is bringing somewhat more awareness to school shooting, though some kids find it as an excuse to make a joke of it.”
According to Duncan, though, the news media should not be seen as the only blame to this desensitization. With most of the world on social media apps like Twitter or Facebook, being able to argue is easier than ever.
“There’s an anger that you see on social media that if it were one-on-one interactions, you wouldn’t see. It has empowered the worst in us…. People feel that they can just go after people,” she said.
Even though media could be considered a major factor for desensitization, it can also be seen as a way to show people the terror of these shooting. For example, videos of the Parkland FA. shooting spread like wildfire through social media. This first person point-of-view insight showed the true horror of what it is like to be a victim in a school shooting.
“You saw it, heard it, felt it from the inside that time. You could hear the terror, you could hear the screams, you could hear the gunfire,” Duncan said. “I remember seeing one angle of a student who had clearly… dove to the dirty, dusty floor to try to stay alive.”
School shootings have become a national epidemic, though one that people have the power to stop. It’s up to Americans to resolve it, and Duncan thinks the recent shooting in Parkland, Fla. will mark a change.
“I think (it’s) kind of a different dynamic that we’re seeing this time,” Duncan said. “This time it didn’t happen to little kids; it happened to kids who can think for themselves and take actions for themselves.”