Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

January 15, 2014

Are we immune to violence?

VALDOSTA — On Tuesday, the latest school shooting occurred in New Mexico, with a 12-year-old boy critically wounding two students with a shotgun before dropping the weapon and allowing a teacher to subdue him. The latest shooting comes about a month after an incident in Colorado where the shooter took his own life after fatally shooting another student, and 13 months after the Sandy Hook massacre took the lives of 27, mostly first-grade children.

In the latter two incidents, both shooters committed suicide, as was the case in the infamous Columbine shootings in the late 1990s, which appears to have sparked the trend of school violence.

While Columbine was on television live for hours and reported for months, with each subsequent school shooting incident, the coverage appears to be less prominent. With the exception of Sandy Hook, which continues to horrify the nation at the senselessness and brutality aimed at a group of innocent young children, school shootings are not receiving as much attention anymore. Has the violence desensitized America to the point that this type of violence is no longer newsworthy?

Time will tell if the diminished focus on school shootings will have the effect of discouraging shooters who seek fame, but time will also tell if these violent displays have become so ingrained in our national conscience that they are not taken seriously anymore.

Early reports from New Mexico say social media posts may have triggered this boy’s violent outburst. Bullying incidents online have led to young children committing suicide. Perhaps if society as a whole can learn to identify the warning signs, if parents take their duties more seriously and monitor their children’s computer usage, and if children were taught that violence is not the answer, towards one's self or others, violence at these early ages might be averted.

Instead of becoming so accustomed to hearing about school shootings that they are commonplace, society should be more focused on the issues triggering these violent impulses. Children have a right to be safe at school, of all places, and don’t deserve to grow up in a society that accepts violence as a normal behavior.

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