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Violence in America's Schools

Violence in America's Schools: A Media Analysis

Brianna Bush

University of North Georgia


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Violence in America's Schools

Abstract

Violence in America's schools is not a new issue. As far back as 1927, violence has found its way

into the country's schools by way of bombs, knives, fights, and guns. But not just in the US,

though. School violence, while undoubtedly more frequent in America, is not unique. All

industrialized countries experience violence in their schools. The reasons why are beyond the

scope of this paper but perhaps looking more closely at the media's coverage and the public's

reaction could lend perspective to why this issue is more prevalent in the United States.
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Violence in America's Schools

Whenever a big story hits the airwaves, whether it be a shooting at a school, a nightclub,

or a workplace, it seems that the same group of people get facetime on the national news outlets.

The National Rifle Association condemns the violent act while reaffirming their firm support of

responsible gun ownership. The Brady Campaign or Moms Demand Action call for stricter gun

legislation and tighter school security measures. Democrat politicians call for universal

background checks and banning "assault rifles" while their Republican counterparts point to the

Constitution's 2nd Amendment. Of course, as we all know, none of these groups alone have been

able to stop school violence, of which gun violence is their primary focus, but they get the

chance to nationally promote their own agenda and fill their coffers from their already ardent

supporters' wallets.

It appears, though, that these political actors talk past one another to the point of

absurdity; offering "solutions" that just plain don't even address the issue. One example is the

security upgrades that millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on. Bulletproof whiteboards

and clipboards may help to stop a bullet from hitting a person, but what it cannot do is stop the

person firing the gun from ever getting to the point where they are, mentally or otherwise. The

450 bills proposed by state lawmakers in the wake of Sandy Hook is another example of

misplaced focus: Universal background checks, mental health exclusions, banning certain types

of guns or ammunition none of these tactics would have stopped Columbine, Virginia Tech, or

Sandy Hook. The fact has always been and will always be that legislation doesn't keep criminals

from breaking the law. It just makes criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens. Those "gun

free zone" signs don't magically prevent guns from entering; they don't seem to even deter. In
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fact, one could argue that the least safe places are those where there are no armed defenders;

whether they be citizen or law enforcement.

While there is no panacea for ending violence in our nation's schools, this author believes

that there are steps that can be taken to achieve, or at least, approach, such a lofty goal. One of

those steps focuses on not being reactive to these tragedies and trying to "play catch-up" in their

wake, but being proactive in our approach. Leaving aside the various pros and cons, the National

Association of School Psychologists' "prevention is an intervention" mantra is true. Why

intervene after the fact when we can prevent these tragedies from occurring in the first place or,

absent a utopian view of the world, drastically reduce them? Instead, we enact zero-tolerance

policies that lead to cases like the recent North Carolina 5-year-old girl being suspended for

playing with her imaginary "stick gun." It seems that zero-tolerance is just another way of saying

zero-common sense. It is this lack of common sense and fear mongering by parties on both sides

of the issue that have done largely nothing to address the issues at hand, instead focusing on

secondary or tertiary issues that, once addressed, leave us no better off. While it is not the

purpose of this paper to offer solutions to the issue, the author would be remiss if it was not

pointed out that, like most things in life, moderation seems to be the best approach to this issue.

Common sense, cool heads, and actually paying attention to what the other side is saying would

go a long way in finding a solution to a serious problem in our country.