US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Three suggestions—that don't have to do with guns—to prevent school shootings

By Caitlyn Schmid | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Two days in a row there have been accounts of school shootings. Yesterday, a senior electrical engineering student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, lost his life. Right now, parts of the University of Oklahoma campus are on lockdown as police search the area after shots were allegedly heard on campus, although nothing has been confirmed.

As I perused the comments on ABC News’ posting of an article on the OU situation, I was reaffirmed about how violent our society is.

We live in a violent culture. Our entertainment is violent. Our media highlights violence hourly. Even our stock market has violent tendencies. And yet we resort to violence and hate when a violent situation presents itself.

Those who left comments were not rallying around how school shootings are terrible events that take innocent lives. No. The commenters couldn’t even agree to that. They were all blaming each other or blaming organizations that they personally feel are responsible for the school shootings of late.

Many commenters decided that guns were the reason for the shooting. Others stated that gun-free zones were bad because it left people unarmed. Some even joked that news websites should have a “School Shootings” tab because they happen so frequently.

This needs to stop. Right now.

There are many things we can do as a society to decrease the likelihood of school shootings. Since our society cannot agree on the issue of gun control and that access to guns is one of the main factors contributing to school shootings, these three suggestions, in particular, don’t have anything to do with guns.

1. Increase education that denounces bullying. Frustrated kids who have been picked on and teased mercilessly at school can have violent tendencies which can lead to school shootings or suicide. We need to educate all students that it is not acceptable to bully anyone, and we cannot ignore violence if we suspect it.

2. Improve mental health care. Treating mental illness early instead of thinking it is a phase is another way to reduce the number of school shootings. Adam Lanza, infamous for killing 27 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, had a history of mental illness that wasn’t treated as well as it should have been. Not only do we have to help the people who suffer from mental illness; we have to stop labeling them as “outcasts” and “weird.”

3. Stop glorifying violence in the media. It is prevalent in our culture. It infiltrates our televisions, our books, our news, our movies. We talk about the shooters and their motives instead of focusing on the victims and their families. We continue making movies and television shows that have crime in them because that’s what gets the ratings. Young people are particularly impressionable with these things. They sometimes don’t understand the aftermath of the situation in real life. We need to stop showing them and focus on more positive messages (and I'm not talking about when the good guy kills the bad guy).

We need more in our culture that promotes nonviolence. If we’re ever going to see a world in peace among all peoples, we need to start with the roots. These three suggestions are definitely not the entire solution to a problem that is centuries old. However, it’s a start. And we have to start right now.

Image: Flickr photo cc by jimthompson