Swickard: Using guns to solve problems

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. We had another student bring a gun to school and used it this week. It is in the media with lurid descriptions yet something is missing. When a student brings a gun to school and uses it why did the student think using a gun would solve problems? 
     In this instance and to my way of thinking, in all other shootings it caused more problems that they could have imagined. But dozens of times each year in our public schools the same action is played out with often fatal results.
     So where did they get the notion using a gun would solve their problems? Did they learn it in school? Of course not, it is not part of the school curriculum. It is not modeled behavior by teachers to shoot problem students. 
     Yet, like it or not, students are bringing guns to school apparently with the belief that the guns will solve their problems. If they do not learn that notion in school, they must learn it somewhere else. Oh, I know, they learn it in their home.
     Most parents reject that premise. “I certainly don’t teach my children that shooting someone will solve problems.” But they do. The message is allowed to be transmitted repeatedly to their children. It is under their aegis that kids watch hour after hour of television and movies where the solution to problems is shoot someone. 
      The average school age student watches hundreds of “shootings to solve a problem” a week. Heroes as well as bad people, all larger than life, solve their problems with guns. I cannot think of a major movie star who has not shot someone on screen. How sad.
     The research strongly suggests watching television and movies influences kids. We know for certain that advertisers believe in this influence by the billions of dollars spent trying to amend the behavior of children in their buying habits. If the media can influence the clothes worn and the language used, it is one small step to influence the way that children solve problems.
     The responsibility to prevent this influence lies with the parents who must take the steps to protect their children from this proven influence. If they do not, they are guilty of child abuse. While it is passive, it is nonetheless abuse. These children are killing and being killed. Read full column