School Shootings: what Can we Do?

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Why are school shootings so common in the United States? Students shouldn’t be scared to go to school and parents shouldn’t have to worry when sending their children off to school every day. Are there ways to reduce the number of school shootings for the future? Some researchers believe that there may be warning signs to look out for in assassins that have malignant fantasies before they commit the pending crime (Robertz).

Observing these actions and identifying them as warning signs can be very helpful when attempting to prevent future attacks. In today’s world, people can obtain firearms and weapons too easily. “”Access to weapons is yet a further cause for alarm, indicating that the youth has the means to turn fantasy into reality (Robertz).”” The adolescent mind is much different from the mind of an adult. “”What goes on in the brain of an adolescent with thoughts, desires and fantasies about killing other human beings? And what causes him to act out these deadly desires?

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What type of self-gratification benefits from murder and mayhem? (Martin)”” Another reason people may resort to violence is because they don’t have enough self-love or feeling of self-worth. It doesn’t make much sense to some that someone would become violent just because they lack self-esteem. This didn’t make much sense to me either, but once I read Melissa Martin’s article on, In understood much better.

One of the sentences stuck with me more than all the others. “”If an adolescent finds zero self-significance and a lack of purpose or meaning in his own life, will he respect the lives of others? (Martin)”” School shootings have become a common occurrence in the United States. In order to mitigate the risk of more attacks, students, teachers, and families must work together to shine a light on the problem that is bullying, consider increasing the age limits on violent movies and video games, and increase gun laws in the United States.

“”Rejection, bullying, and social isolation are considered key risk factors for school shooters. A 2014 study found that students being bullied are twice as likely to bring a weapon to school. Some may fantasize about revenge, while others genuinely fear for their safety (Beham).”” Bullying breaks people down and may even cause strong self- hate. “”From this perspective, intense emotions of self-hate become organized into highly resistant defenses against the world around them…(Weisbrot).”

Children that are bullied may show early warning signs of possible aggressive behavior and grow up to be school shooters. This isn’t the case for every person, but it would be best if we didn’t have to risk anything and just eliminate bullying in and out of schools as best as we can. Seeing how big of a factor bullying is when it comes to school violence is astounding.

We must make a change and bring bullying back into the spotlight. Just talking about bullying will not make a difference. We must change our actions and the actions of all students and members of society. Also, not all assailants are bullied or rejected. Only talking about bullying will not fix the problem right away, but it is a place to start when attempting to fix the problem.

In addition to bullying, it is believed by many that violent movies and video games can cause adolescents and even people of other ages to act more aggressively towards others. “”A higher consumption of media violence makes people more willing to behave aggressively when provoked,’ Gentile told ABC News (Keneally).”

When adolescents continuously play violent video games, they can begin to devalue life and become desensitized to violence. Some may even be inspired by the games, shows, or movies they watch and start to act much more aggressively because they believe it’s acceptable. There are two sides to the video game argument. Some people believe that there is no connection between virtual life and reality while others believe there is correlation between the two.

Video game designer, artist, professor, and writer Lindsay Grace does not believe that video games cause people to act violently. In her article published by CNN she says, “”After 10 plus years of researching how games affect human behavior, I can tell you this: Games do not teach people to become shooters in real life.”” She believes that if behavior is changed, it is because of self-efficacy and not a result of playing video games.

“Perceived self-efficacy is defined as people’s beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives. Self-efficacy beliefs determine how people feel, think, motivate themselves and behave (Bandura).”” Violent media affects everyone differently and can cause negative effects on adolescents, mentally unstable individuals, and even mentally stable individuals.

Although we may not be able to keep all underage people from violent media, we can work on increasing firearm legislation. “”States with stricter gun control and higher mental health expenditure have fewer school shootings, study finds (Sheth).”” In today’s world, one can acquire a gun too easily. New firearm legislation is a solution to school shootings that must be considered. New gun laws aren’t the only factor that should be considered.

“States that have stricter laws regarding background checks for gun ownership and spend more money on mental health care and K-12 education have fewer school shootings, according to a new study published in the journal Injury Prevention (Sheth).”” Background checks are also a very important part of gun ownership and sale. “”Opponents of gun control often argue that if we take guns away, those intent on killing or committing crimes with them will simply find another way’ (Pennacchia).”

This means that they would turn to using knives or other weapons in place of guns to kill. The idea is a possibility for some especially motivated attackers, but if you take away the quickest and most common attack weapon, most assailants would turn away from other methods because it’s more work. A downside to this solution to school shootings is that passing and implementing new firearm legislation takes lots of time and isn’t always obeyed by 100% of the population.

If you take time to compare the amount of gun laws in the United States to other countries, and our mass shooting rate to theirs, you will see how strong the correlation between gun laws and crime rate is. There are plenty of interesting facts about the U.S. and mass shootings online. I found a few eye-opening statistics while reading an article by Kara Fox on A statistic found by the University of Alabama states that, “”The US makes up less than 5% of the world’s population but holds 31% of the world’s mass shooters (Fox).”

For being such a small portion of the world’s total population, we should have a much smaller portion of the world’s mass shooters than we do. This proves that mass shootings are a huge problem in the U.S. and needs to be addressed immediately. A Congressional Research Service team, conducted a Small Arms Survey in 2007 and found that,”” Americans own nearly half (48%) of the estimates 650m* civilian-owned guns worldwide (Fox).”” Having so many of the world’s civilian-owned guns reside in the United States should worry us because we have much fewer laws regarding gun control and gun safety.

Why are school shootings so common in the United States? How to we decrease the chances of these incidents occurring? The solutions I’ve researched and found are all good solutions, they just take time to be implemented and they need to be gone about the correct way in order to achieve their goal. Bullying can be talked about but if we just talk about it and no action is taken, nothing will change. Monitoring the media that adolescents watch and play can be attempted but not completely controlled.

New firearm legislation will take time and need to be voted on, passed, and implemented before we see change. The solutions need to be realistic and reachable within the near future so that we can make positive change in our ever-changing society. I think that we should have psychologists in schools and have them meeting with students and observe them during the school day. Also, I think having armed security guards in schools is a good idea because they will be able to stop assailants if shootings occur.

Work Cited

  1. Bandura, Albert. Self-Efficacy. Stanford University, icacy_1994.htm. Accessed 5 Dec. 2018
  2. Beham, Isabella. US School Shootings: Causes and Solutions., 2018, Accessed 25 Nov. 2018.
  3. Beresin, Eugene. Preventing School Shootings: It’s Guns, Not Mental Health.
  4. Psychology Today, 2018, in/201802/preventing-school-shootings-its-guns-not-mental-health. Accessed 2 Dec. 2018.
  5. Fox, Kara. How US gun culture compares with the world in five charts. CNN, 2018, Accessed 5 Dec. 2018.
  6. Grace, Lindsay. Video games do not teach people to become shooters in real life. CNN, 2018, -become-shooters-grace/index.html. Accessed 5 Dec. 2018.
  7. Keneally, Meghan. Breaking down the debate over violent video games and school shootings. 2018, -school-shootings/story?id=55324231. Accessed 25 Nov. 2018.
  8. Martin, Melissa. What causes school shootings?,
  9. 2018,
  10. -shootings. Accessed 26 Nov. 2018.
  11. Pennacchia, Robyn. The scientifically proven explanation for why better gun control really will stop school violence. Quartz, 2018, proven-explanation-for-why-better-gun-control-really-will-stop-school-violence/. Accessed 2 Dec. 2018.
  12. Robertz, Frank J. Deadly Dreams: What Motivates School Shootings? Scientific American, 2007, Accessed 25 Nov. 2018.
  13. Sheth, Sonam. States with stricter gun control and higher mental health expenditure have fewer school shootings, study finds., 2016, -school-shootings-2016-12. Accessed 25 Nov. 2018.
  14. Weisbrot, Deborah M. Prelude to a School Shooting? Assessing Threatening Behaviors in Childhood and Adolescence. 2008, p.851, 3e57ab3d12949df2fdd6e92677eb5b414b.pdf. Accessed 2 Dec. 2018
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School Shootings: What Can We Do?. (2019, Oct 20). Retrieved from