Horrific, sad, and maddening. We are all looking for ways to stop it. I could be wrong, but here is my take.
My opinion is that school shootings are a ‘meme’ that spreads from mind to mind, like the ice-bucket challenge. They are patterns of thinking where a certain action is followed by a certain reaction.
In case of school shootings, for many years there is this meme of a disgruntled kid who is tortured by his peers for years, finally ‘takes matters in his own hands’ and ‘shows who is boss’. In this state of mind, the kid has nothing to lose, and feels like his life is over anyway. Nothing matters, but making a final statement. A cry for help to be heard, and to end it all. At an early age, a human psyche doesn’t have enough hardening. Anything that happens feels like a life and death situation. These kids are unable to see the bigger picture, and that it does get better. Their hurt ego, and confused mind drives them insane, tunnel visioned, and lead to picking up a meme as solution to their problem.
What is the solution to end these shootings once and for all?
Is it a ‘gun problem’? Yes, and no. If theoretically there was a way to get rid of the guns, would it solve the problem? Not really. The guns are just a tool of destruction, albeit an effective one. The core problem would remain, and unfortunately there are many ways to destroy people in mass other ways, besides shooting them. The easiest of course is using a truck and driving into a mass ceremony, like a terrorist not long ago. School shooters could become school arsonists, they could poison people with a gas, etc. I don’t want to give ideas, but you get the concept.
Can we stop bullying and creating an environment so toxic that turns kids mad? Yes, and no. We certain can improve this situation. We can do that by education, etc. But likely we can’t change human social behaviour over-night. We can’t force change either. If you punish a bully constantly, he may turn into a school shooter himself.
What can we then? We should stop the propagation of the meme. Without the meme, disgruntled kids won’t think of school shooting as a solution in their darkest hour. We have to replace the school shooting meme, with a new meme, where the kids seek professional help.
How do we stop the propagation of the meme? Well, this is actually possible. The first step is we have to have a rule that media can only do very minimal reporting on such events. We should punish any news organization that spreads the meme and creates a story around it. We can never show the face of the shooter, we don’t talk about the victims, we don’t keep going about it for weeks. And the same would apply to any public figures or celebrities. Politicians will not be allowed to use the events to push their agenda, even if they have the best intention. And, generally every private person should stop talking about it. The appeal of a mass shooting with no coverage would fall dramatically because it’s not a statement anymore. It’s an unnoticed event that ‘nobody cares about’.
This is not just theory. In certain areas of the world, criminals are hidden away from public attention in a similar way for the same reason. They are not given their fame and attention they seek, thus the attraction is much less to commit the crimes in the first place.
The school shooting meme is very strong. There is lots of documentation about old events, people made movies and books about them, etc. It can’t be erased in an instant. It will take maybe 10 years or more until the grip of this meme starts to fall apart. But by consistently applying the policy we can make it happen.
The media just has to understand, that this is not the time to make a quick buck. By blowing up these events and by talking about them for weeks, they are putting down the foundation for the next several shootings. They are directly responsible for them. They have to understand what is going on (I bet they already do) and they have to stop.