School Shootings: A Symbolic Analysis

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Resolutions are vehemently being sought to protect schools from possible attacks and to objectively eradicate deadly school shootings altogether. Commonly, security officers are placed in schools in hopes that increased surveillance will inhibit violent outbreaks (Crawford and Burns 2016). Mixed evaluations have been found in association with security officers, while some benefits reportedly transpire, experiences of disparaging consequences remain a regrettable reality as well (Crawford and Burns 2016). Additionally, active shooter drills routinely occur at schools across the nation, however, as Jillian Peterson and James Densley report in their CNN article titled, “The Usual Approach to School Security Isn’t Working,” studies indicate that…show more content…
Symbolic interactionism illuminates fundamental elements that attribute to school shootings. According to Jeanne Ballantine and Joan Spade in their book, Schools and Society, A Sociological Approach to Education, “Symbols are the concepts or ideas that we use to frame our interactions” (2015:19). Symbolically, a sense of self and hierarchical place is determined by social interactions (Ballantine and Spade 2015). Students find themselves determining how they see and feel about themselves by how their cohorts, parents, siblings, teachers, and others interact with them. Sadly, the young perpetrators of school shootings have derived their sense of self from their social experiences of isolation, bullied harassment, and low hierarchical status, producing skewed and biased self-perceptions. These students are many times symbolically labeled and classed as, “weird,” “gay,” or “loser” due to non-conformist dress, behavior, or participation in unmasculine activities such as art and drama (Kimmel and Mahler 2003). Consequently, these labels tend to define how others treat and interact with these students (Ballantine and Spade 2015). Students displaying volatility in emotional self-management experience poor treatment. Young men who fall short or step outside of the representation of hegemonic masculinity are met with relentless persecution (Kimmel and Mahler 2003). Tragically, over time, the compilation of these various symbolic factors and negative interactions can compound and incite deadly, violent outbursts. Eliminating these lethal aggressions begins with remedying unconstructive interactions consisting of detrimental symbolic labels. Educating students, teachers, parents, and others that “different” is not the equivalent of “bad” would aid in reevaluating commonly shared labels and

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