Anyone notice how we don’t hear about school shootings anymore? Ever since the nation became fixated on the COVID-19 epidemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, school shootings have dropped out of the headlines.
According to an ongoing list compiled by Wikipedia, there have been eight school shootings (four in Texas, two in California, and one each in Florida and Illinois) so far this year. Six occurred before Feb. 4. Since then, only two school or college shootings been reported. In 2019, there had been 40 shootings by this time of year. What’s going on?
Ask yourself, what happened in early February? The COVID-19 epidemic started spreading through the United States. After spring break, many schools switched to online classes. Summer came and went. This fall many schools are still teaching online. If fewer schools are open, it’s no no surprise that there are fewer shootings.
But there’s more to the story. The only incidents reported since February sound like crimes arising from arguments between people who knew each other — disturbing, yes, but very different than mass slaughters like Columbine, Newtown or Virginia Tech where the killers set out to murder as many people as possible.
Here’s an operating hypothesis of what’s going on: School shooters seek to go out in a blaze of glory. To be be memorialized in the pantheon of anti-heroes, a would-be school killer needs to garner lots of media attention. But the Trump-Biden election, the BLM protests, the Antifa riots, and the COVID-19 epidemic have sucked all the oxygen out of the room. What’s the point of inflicting mayhem if nobody’s going to notice? There was always a copycat element to the shootings — one massacre inspiring another among the mentally ill. With the media distracted by other storylines, there’s nothing to copycat.
The American Psychological Association has just published a report suggesting that America is experiencing a mental health crisis among the very young people most likely to engage in school shootings. Apparently, rising stress and depression are taking new forms. From a clinical perspective, it will be interesting to watch how mental illness expresses itself in the Age of COVID. Hopefully, it won’t be as violent.There are currently no comments highlighted.