School shooting epidemic

Published on January 30, 2018 in Pacer Times, University of South Carolina Aiken’s college paper

In the small town of Benton, Kentucky at Marshall County High School on Tuesday morning, Jan. 23, two students were left dead and 18 left injured.

Those fatalities are 15-year-olds, Bailey Colt and Preston Cope. Colt died at the scene and Cope died later at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

The 15-year-old male suspect is in custody and has been charged with two counts of murder and several counts of first degree assault. Because he a juvenile, his name has not been released.

The day before the Benton shooting, there was a school shooting in Italy, Texas, that didn’t get as much publicity.

According to news sources, these types of violent crimes are no longer a shock; we are becoming numb to them as they seem to be commonplace events.

There seems to be a declining degree of concern in these matters as the response presents violent crime as trivialities but the root of such cases should be examined- not only who to look out for but how can we stop these events from occurring.

To be aware of patterns in school shootings is important.

According to Katherine Newman, author and sociologist, said that most school shootings happen in small towns where everyone knows everyone’s name. Future shooters are socially rejected, growing up with their surroundings that consist of students excelling and being raised in wonderful families.

USC Aiken psychology professor, Dr. Adam Pazda, said that although it’s a mysterious matter and assumptions are difficult to make, there is a common thread among school shooters and that is social rejection.

“At a younger ages, emotional experiences tend to be more severe and it’s hard to think about the future,” Pazda said.

He explained that the frontal lobes, which are responsible for these kinds of feelings are not fully developed in children, such as the 15-year-old Benton shooter.

“Not only are experiences more severe but emotional pain is also literally physical. When someone is constantly being socially rejected, it is like they are constantly being beat up, which leaves that socially rejected child to resort to irrational behavior,” Pazda said.

According to sharecare.com, a forum for both counselors and psychologists, one psychologist and author by the name of Michelle Borba, posted results from an extensive study conducted by the U.S. Secret Service. These characteristics may not predict a violent crime, but potential shooters are more likely to have them.

These characteristics include male, Caucasian, withdrawn, isolated/rejected by peers, living in a rural community, having easy access to weapons, bullied repeatedly and from a troubled home.

Potential shooters also usually have some mental disturbance that typically show signs and can be watched out for. To list a few, signs are that he/she is easily influenced by peers, victimized, abuses alcohol/drugs, or has increasing anger, aggression or destructive behavior.

School shootings can happen anywhere and anytime.

From the Department of Homeland Security, this is the protocol for when there is an active shooter crisis:

  • Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers
  • Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit
  • If you are in an office, stay there and secure the door
  • If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door
  • As a last resort, attempt to take the active shooter down. When the shooter is at close range and you cannot flee, your chance of survival is much greater if you try to incapacitate him/her.
  • CALL 911 WHEN IT IS SAFE TO DO SO!

School peers can watch out for these signs but it is vital that every person practices kindness, empathy and inclusiveness. Externalities are not always present but to live by the golden rule, to ask how someone’s day is going can be pivotal.

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