Essay on The Cause of School Violence

1079 Words 5 Pages
As we approached the turn of the twenty-first century, news outlets increasingly covered violence in America’s schools; most specifically violence in the form of “school shootings.” A panic swept the entire country after the extended coverage of a few high profile incidents of school shootings. As a result, prominent sectors of society began searching for and analyzing the possible causes of school violence. Many were quick to blame violent television shows, films, and video games, but did the violence occur as a byproduct of violent entertainment or were these “bad influences” merely patsies? The individuals who are ultimately responsible for this “widespread and ever increasing violence” are much closer than many are aware.
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While moral panics can take many forms and arise at any time and location, the steps that lead to moral panic are much more specific.
These steps which can lead to a moral panic are discussed by Blumer in Social Problems as Collective Behavior (1971) while, in Threatened Children: Rhetoric and Concern about Child-Victims (1990), Best describes the role of media in this process. In order for moral panic to ensue, the public must be aware of the problem. The news media plays a large role in this since, by definition, they are the medium that disseminates information about the problem. Media directors are interested in increasing their ratings and circulation. As a result, the news media often presents the problem in an exaggerated or sensationalized manner and in most cases will give it a name (which often carries an exaggerated sense urgency or threat). Naming a problem lends it a sense of familiarity, may encourage discussion, and makes this discussion, by media and the general public, possible in more specific and efficient terms.
Naming a problem may also lead society to assume a problem is more legitimate than it truly is. Blumer explains that “legitimization” of the problem is the second step leading up to a moral panic (1971). Best might add that

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