Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Special Report: Crisis On Campus

School Shootings And The Importance Of Sensitivity
By Aimee La Fountain

The Virginia Tech community suffered the deadliest shooting in American history last Monday. By the end of the day, 33 people died including the gunman. This is the most horrific massacre to date, but cases of violence in schools have tragically become a common occurrence in America. The Virginia Tech incident comes eight years after the Columbine shooting. In light of this information, it’s time that our nation takes a hard look at the state of events and resolve that something needs to be done.

The first resolution should be not to resort to finger pointing. The focus of this horrible situation should not be who should be blamed. We need to look at the big picture and ask why it happened. It is time that students and officials get together and honestly assess how students are being treated within the school community. Of course, every school should be prepared in the case of another school shooting. The ultimate goal, however, should be to find ways to prevent another shooting from happening.

The second resolution is that the media’s primary effort should be to respect the victims of this tragedy and those close to them. Family and friends of victims are reeling in response to this tragedy. Thus, if they are generous enough to donate time for interviews the media should be responsive to the gesture and request the vital information to those being interviewed.

Reporters should not pose senseless questions with the intention of earning the most viewers. For example, today in an interview Wolf Blitzer asked the father of victim Reema Samaha to describe his emotional response upon learning of his daughter’s passing. This kind of questioning is not only unnecessary it’s tasteless. In its report on the incident last evening, Fox News referred to the incident as a “blood bath.” It is beyond disgusting that the media is using such insensitive terms to refer to such a horrific event. In journalism, timing is everything. And, when people are suffering from a tragedy such as this, it is not the time to milk the situation for ratings.

Finally, when reviewing this shooting it would be a great service for everyone to reconsider how we treat one another. A common thread in the Virginia Tech incident, Columbine, and various other school shootings is that the gunmen were students who were isolated from their community. It’s too simple to say that these students simply imagined that their peers treated them as rejects.

Most people can relate to the difficult experience of cliques and peer pressure that comes with growing up. On a large scale, schools need to place more emphasis on tolerance. On a small scale, we could all benefit from reviewing our actions toward one another. Many of us go about our lives often unaware of the negative or positive effect our actions have on others. In the case of school shootings, our actions can become matters of life and death.

After such a tragic event like the Virginia tech shooting, many are quick to debate issues such as tighter school security or stricter gun control. Reflecting on the situation, however, one thing is for certain: changes are in order.

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