media generated fear panic
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When it comes to the wellbeing of today’s youth, one would think that all could agree that provoking unnecessary fear should be avoided. That apparently is not the case, however, when it comes to pushing the narrative that changes are urgently needed to America’s gun control laws to keep schoolchildren safe from an “epidemic” of “gun violence” that is spiraling out of control. The truth is that schools are as safe as they’ve been in the last two decades, yet polls show the public believing the opposite to be true.

According to an Economist/YouGov poll conducted April 13 – 16, 61% of Americans think students and faculty today are less safe from firearm-related violence in schools than they were in 1999. The poll additionally revealed that two thirds of the respondents believe school shootings have increased during that timeframe.

YouGov article summarizing the results stated, “Well over half the public say they have heard ‘a lot’ about [firearm-related school violence], the horror of which may have caused so many Americans to say that school shootings have increased, and not decreased, in the last 20 years.”

These findings should concern anyone who believes reality is relevant to policymaking and who wants the best for America’s schoolchildren because they show kids are being unnecessarily terrified about a risk of harm that if anything has actually decreased in recent decades.

Northeastern University Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy James Alan Fox has waged a lonely campaign to bring a dose of reality to the modern discussion of firearm-related violence in schools. An avowed supporter of gun control, he nevertheless seeks to reassure students and parents that – contrary to what they hear in the media – schools remain a safe place.

Fox has published research showing that “shooting incidents involving students have been declining since the 1990s.” Commenting on his findings, he stated, “There is not an epidemic of school shootings.”

Fox also responded to the wave of media stories marking the 20th anniversary of the terrible murders at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO, by admonishing readers in a USA Today editorial this week that “the level of fear is inconsistent with the risk.” The article goes on to suggest measures that can be taken to promote a safe school environment without sending students and faculty an exaggerated message that the “bad guy is gunning for you!”

Fox blamed “cable news and social media” for promoting inaccurate perceptions around firearm-related violence in schools.

Fellow gun control advocate Garen Wintemute of the University of California at Davis agreed with Fox, telling NPR last year:

Schools are just about the safest place in the world for kids to be. … Although each one of them is horrific and rivets the entire nation for a period of time, mass shootings at schools are really very uncommon, and they are not increasing in frequency. What’s changed is how aware we are of them.

Harvard instructor and expert in risk analysis David Ropeik has calculated that the statistical likelihood of any public school student being killed by a gun in school on any given day since 1999 as 1 in 614,000,000. Ropeik characterized that as “far lower than almost any other mortality risk a kid faces, including traveling to and from school, catching a potentially deadly disease while in school or suffering a life-threatening injury playing interscholastic sports.”

Given all this, it’s not only inaccurate for the media to portray firearm related violence in schools as an increasing threat that should preoccupy America’s students and teachers, it’s unethical and subordinates the peace of mind of young kids to a political agenda.

Americans should celebrate the fact that schools are getting safer and should provide reassurance, not additional trauma, to children saturated by today’s agenda-driven and too often misleading media environment.


This article originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission. 

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  1. Scumbags! The only thing they left out is ” it’s Trump’s fault”. Or did I just miss that part? Old enough to remember when we had a fairly objective media, this is just criminal!

      • Yeah, you show us! A member of both groups; unlike the other side we need to be smart enough to not try to one-up each other.

      • Oh, yeah, baby. Be just like GOA- stand on the fringes and shout threats. Big deal, those boys. America has yet to see any law or regulation they’ve ever instituted run, start to signing, through any legislative body. Or their repeal of any of the other regs they constantly snipe about.

        Be a lemming- follow Larry and the Prattards.

    • It’s gotten worse, but I would suggest a good bit of the apparent decline comes from Fox News, CSPAN, and the internet. In other words, the press has been biased forever, but it’s only relatively recently that we have been able to see how badly.

  2. Eric Swalwell said the following about “assault weapons” during his announcement for his candidacy for President of the US:

    “But it’s not just the violence that they have caused. It’s the fear, the immeasurable fear that our children live in, because they are still on our streets. I want to get rid of that fear.”

    What does pumping up this irrational fear do for students as they try to grow academically? All this in pursuit of an agenda of disarming the American people.

  3. “Media Continue to Cause a Distorted Fear of Gun Violence”

    Well, yes, they do. In fact, place the word “Partisan” in front of “Media” and replace the phrase “Gun Violence” with “Fill In Here With Your Emotionally Charged Hot Button Political Topic”, and it would be much more accurate.

    For the record, if there is a record, every President, every politician, leaves behind actions that are their fault or to their credit. The effects of the good and the bad they do ripple along for years. In some cases, decades and generations. There are no exceptions.

    News media is unchanged in that the uglier and more terrible the better it draws in the public’s attention. True in the era of only print media, then of radio and early television. It has always been the case where happy news and positive public interest stories are a niche product. While awful events sell the best because people want to read about flaming bloody train wrecks much more than they want to read about shiny new trains operating perfectly.

    What has changed is less the content and the drives of the news gobbling public and more the instantaneousness nature. The massive ability to distribute video and sound and the reactions of affected citizens. The emotional impact of all news, no matter what it is, is naturally amplified by these technological wonders.

    The other aspect of this is everyone has a set of triggers that are emotionally driven far more than they are driven by Reason. These sets of triggers are different among demographic groups. Or, there can be overlaps but the direction they go (toward Reason or toward Desperation) variies. It is not about control with the liberals on their emotional hot buttons any more than it is about control with conservatives on their emotional hot buttons.

    This is what the two sides of America’s great political fracture are unable to see or accept. That both sides agree on the end result being sought. They disagree on causes and effects, on means to the end, on importance of this problem over that problem, etc ad infinitum.

    On guns, a certain set of people (some conservatives too) reaction in terror and abandon Reason. After that, adding in years and decades of fear driven political rhetoric, it becomes accepted political dogma of their side. That’s it, they are many years beyond thinking anything thru, the dogma took over long ago.

    There are similar examples on the conservative side, different issues.

    Can’t be fixed really. Too few want to. It’s much too simpler and emotionally fulfilling to be constantly fighting all the time.

  4. According to the CDC, almost twice as many people die each year falling out of bed than are killed by all long guns.

    But we have a epidemic of violence caused by assault rifles.

  5. I have yet to ever wittiness a violent firearm,a firearm is a inanimate object with out a persons intervention. However It would make one think that Leftard’s believe that firearms act all of their own accord,my bet Is that is the reason the Left are Leftard’s as it seems they fail to be able to reason or fathom facts.

  6. Media reports on false perceptions of violence as a result of the media, immediately goes back to creating more false perceptions of violence.

    • The media never lets a tragic event go to waste! Someone said that years ago, but I don’t remember who.

  7. Since we haven’t had a major school shooting recently it is time to renew everyone’s fear of school shootings again by bringing up something that happened 20 years ago… Sigh.

  8. If the general populace were not so daft and looked at simple statistics they would quickly realize they were being lied to.

    • trouble is many are so daft that you show them the stats and the stats tell them what their emotions tell them. Stephan Molenoux (SP?) does a lot of philosophy videos online and in one i watched he was talking about the general IQ of the populace as nations age. sadly what happens is that the IQ over time goes down and the people become more dependent and emotionally driven rather than factually and realistically driven. This is part of where the “Bread and Circuses” came from with the fall of Rome and many other great Civilizations.

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