Tags: parkland | school shootings | prevention

Social Change Needed to Stop Mass Shootings

Social Change Needed to Stop Mass Shootings
(Grondin Franck Olivier/Dreamstime.com)

By Thursday, 10 May 2018 04:09 PM Current | Bio | Archive

In the weeks after the Parkland shooting, the nation searched for ways to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again. In the wake of that incident, I wrote two articles containing policy measures that can reduce the risk of shootings. While these policies are legal prescriptions that can help minimize mass shootings, there is another important aspect of our society we must address if we are to prevent these heartbreaks. In this article, we’ll discuss three underlying reasons mass shooters develop in the first place, and how said reasons should be remedied.

Lack of Meaningful Community

A common trait of mass shooters is that they generally do not come from large communities that consist of families, community leaders, shared social spaces and shared social events. We often hear, “he was quiet, kept to himself and didn’t bother anyone” as if being quiet and keeping to one’s self is a sign of docility. A young man left to his own devices in the age of the internet can be a dangerous combination. Not so long ago, Western countries were in a crisis that many of their disillusioned young men were drawn to the Islamic State (ISIS). Only with the relative destruction of ISIS has that crisis subsided. The way a strong community can prevent young men from developing these terrible tendencies is twofold. One, a tight-knit community rarely misses signs of a troubled young man and can intervene accordingly before radical thoughts turn into radical actions. Two, a community gives young men an environment in which they can channel their energy to do good rather than be destructive.

This isn’t to say all young men that are quiet and keep to themselves are troubled. An environment that lacks positive outlets for otherwise normal young men is the culprit. Therefore, as a society, we should examine what has caused the breakdown of strong communities. Young men and firearms have been around for a long time, so it isn’t simply the two in combination that has led to the increase in mass shootings.

Lack of Father in Home

Out of the 27 deadliest mass shootings in American history, only four of the perpetrators were raised in an “intact family that included the biological father.” Now it’s important to not conflate correlation with causation, but considering the nature of masculinity and rarity of mass shooters compared to the rest of the population of young men, it’s an important data point. Fathers teach their sons that masculinity and aggression do not need to be used for destructive purposes. Fathers also prevent their son’s aggression from being unchecked, as they are likely the only ones in a home that can counter physical aggression.

Additionally, with the proliferation of violent content in media, it’s important to have an authority figure who can put faux violence in perspective for young men. Movies, cartoons, and games glorify violence. If left unrestricted, it can act as propaganda that grips troubled young men. They may use it as an outlet that crosses over from entertainment to fantasy. There should be policies that reduce what young men are exposed to in the media, but once again, enforcement and education about the reality of violence lies in the home and community.

Glorification of Shooters

The media’s display of mass shootings encourages mass shooters. Professors Jennifer Johnston and Andrew Joy of Western New Mexico University presented a paper in 2016 that showed one of the main drives of mass shooters is their desire for fame. This desire to become “folk heroes” is reiterated by the Parkland shooting. The shooter is receiving massive amounts of “fan” mail. We should truly reconsider how shootings are represented in the media and news outlets. The strangest aspect that many noticed about the Parkland shooting was how it was broadcast live on television from a helicopter as if an active shooting scene needed to be seen for journalistic purposes. No, it didn’t. These shootings do not need to be broadcast live. These incidents should be reported, but in the strictest manner that does not place the perpetrators on a dark pedestal.

Preventing mass shootings will take more than implementing new laws on the books. Even if we implement many new ones, there will be young men out there who are fostering terrible perceptions of society and the world at large. They will be lost, looking for attention from all the wrong places with few people to steer them in the right direction. If we can rediscover the importance of tight-knit communities and fathers in the home, this will also draw young men away from these negative influences. Doing so will be harder than passing laws, but all efforts to stop mass shootings are worth it, and we owe it to our society to put in that effort.

Richard S. Bernstein, CEO of Richard S. Bernstein & Associates, Inc., West Palm Beach, Florida, is an insurance advisor for high net worth business leaders, families, businesses, municipalities, and charitable organizations. An insurance advisor to many of America’s wealthiest families, he is a writer, trusted local and national media resource and expert speaker on estate planning and health insurance. Visit his website at www.rbernstein.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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In the weeks after the Parkland shooting, the nation searched for ways to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.
parkland, school shootings, prevention
Thursday, 10 May 2018 04:09 PM
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