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The Cause of School Violence Essay

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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.
Moral Panic
In his 1972 text, Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers, Stanley Cohen explains that moral panic can occur when “a condition, episode, person, or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat” by a large percentage of a population “to societal values and interests”. Resulting from this moral panic, as Goode and Ben-Yehuda (1994) suggests, is a society that believes it is compelled to take a collective and active approach to regaining “moral order”. This most often takes the form of “strengthening the social control apparatus of the society” (Goode and Ben-Yehuda, 1994). This “strengthening” and regaining process can take either a passive form (e.g. longer prison sentences) or an active form (e.g. increased security, locker inspections, placing restrictions on the purchase of violent video games).
However, Burns and Crawford (1999) list four necessary conditions for a condition to be considered a moral panic; (a) a “heightened concern” regarding the...


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...(Best 2002). Through a small amount of research, we find that much of the panic surrounding school violence is unfounded; as a consequence of this panic, precious resources such as time, money, and man power are diverted from other more reasonable solutions to more serious problems.



Works Cited

Best, J. (1990). Threatened Children: Rhetoric and Concern about Child-Victims. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Best, J. (2002). Monster Hype: How a Few Isolated Tragedies-and Their Supposed Causes-were turned into a National "Epidemic". Education Next, 51-55.
Blumer, H. (1971). Social Problems as Collective Behavior. Social Problems, 18, 298-306.
Cohen, S. (1972). Folk devils and Moral Panics: the Creation of the Mods and Rockers. London: Routledge.
Goode, E., & Yehuda, N. (1994). Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance. Malden, MA: Blackwell.


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