Fighting Desensitization

1999

I was in my 9th grade high school biology class when it happened. It was…

Columbine

2001

I was walking between first and second period of my senior year, when the first plane hit. It was…

September 11

2007

It was a transition meeting of the Student Governments, three weeks before graduating with my B.A., when we got first reports. It was…

Virginia Tech

2012

I woke up early to work on my application to Graduate School (late admission) to see my TV screen flooded with images about Colorado. It was…

Aurora Theater Shooting

2012

I was in the Eastern Michigan University Library, in my first semester of Graduate School, when my twitter feed began to go crazy about Connecticut. It was…

Sandy Hook Elementary

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

My generation has grown up with school shootings, mass killings, bomb threats and 9-11. For two of three graduations I have participated in, I have adorned my graduation gowns with ribbons in honor/memoriam of events from that year, 9-11 and Virginia Tech.

And over time, for one reason or another, I have begun to become desensitized to the significance of similarly occurring events, as has the rest of my generation and those who follow. And lately I’ve come to realize that this act of desensitization scares me.

The events I mention above are just the ones that I relate to as key points in my life and how they affected how I relate and understand society and therefore have become ingrained in my life journey.

But because of recent events, and having been through several annual trainings lately on active shooter protocols, let’s address school shootings. The numbers are daunting. According to Everytown Research Organization, between December of 2012 and December 2014 the United States has averaged one shooting a week on the property of a K-12 or Higher Education establishment. Also according to Everytown Research Organization as of yesterday, October 11, 2015, there have been 52 incidents of gunfire on the premise of an educational institution. Only a third of those have resulted in no injuries or deaths.

But as I mentioned previously, have you noticed that shootings have no longer become a significant “stop and pay attention” moment? We barely acknowledge the gravity and growing frequency of these incidents. Rather, they are simply being added to a growing list of “should be dealt with topics”. We no longer take that double look when we hear about another shooting. We have desensitized ourselves and disengaged ourselves from these incidents, unless they occur to us directly.

Now, listening and watching comments over social media, there seems to be a feeling of “we can’t do anything but just hope it doesn’t happen to us”. And that, I feel, is a lie we tell ourselves to get out of having to address and deal with another societal issue in our lives and on our campuses.

But there are real issues behind these incidents, beyond the events themselves; depression, mental illness, physical abuse, mental abuse, lack of community, lack of support, bullying, harassment, and the list goes on. Yes it’s true, we can’t stop a person from entering our campuses with these weapons and doing harm. But we can do everything we can to prevent it. And these are issues we are already or should already be addressing.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of gun control you have to acknowledge that this is growing and we need to address it.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Now, some may wish to address recent events and shootings via legislation, others through mentorship, while others counsel and mediate and yet others advocate and lobby. But we can not let time and frequency allow us to desensitize ourselves to the issue(s). And we have to acknowledge that we each have the power to take back our campuses and society one student at a time. A smile, a conversation, a friendly check-in or going the extra mile to help a student out whether or not it’s in our job description could be all that it takes to help divert a potential situation.

So what will you do to be proactive handling these issues?

Just food for thought.

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Reference:

Everytown Research Organization (2015). Guns in Public Places: School Shootings. http://everytownresearch.org/

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About bdproffer

I am currently the Assistant Manager for the University Activities Board at Michigan State University. After earning my B.A. from the University of Michigan-Flint, I entered the Student Affairs profession. After a few years in the field, I returned to school and earned my M.A. in Educational Leadership-Higher Education Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University. In my spare time I blog about my thoughts and musings on current issues in higher education, student affairs, web 2.0, LGBT issues and general life inspirations and observations. I also volunteer for Kappa Sigma Fraternity.
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