“There have been at least 62 mass shootings in the US in the last 30 years, and 61 of them were committed by men.” (Mother Jones)
Today, we begin to take stock. Why did this happen? And what can we do to prevent it from happening again?
Like everything in life that matters, it’s more complicated than we can possibly imagine. And, at the end of the day, this one instance is probably unexplainable. But we can begin to look at patterns. If almost all mass shooters are men, let’s look at the lives of men in our country.
It begins at birth. Studies show that parents of newborn boys are less likely to go to them immediately when they start crying or to give them affection. This is ironic, because newborn boys are more vulnerable and actually need more care than newborn girls. As baby boys grow, parents are more likely to tell them to “suck it up” or “be a big boy” or “be tough” when they cry, get hurt, or are just frustrated about their relative helplessness. Boys learn that needing help is unacceptable, that showing their emotions makes them less of a man, and that the appropriate way to deal with problems is to hide it all inside. When they inevitably face emotional problems later (because emotional problems are simply part of life) they will have no learned ways of dealing with those problems. (Pink Brain, Blue Brain)
As soon as they start watching videos, children are exposed to violence, even if only in small amounts. Why does this effect boys differently from girls? Because most of the violent characters are boys and boys begin to identity with that. Even in Cars, a relatively harmless movie for young children, there’s a scene where the main character – a boy – is shooting up a field of victims. It starts early, and it only gets worse from there.
As young as eight (or maybe even younger for all I know) boys start playing first-person shooter games. These are not the games of our youth, where we shot ducks or tiny, pixelated monsters. These young boys are shooting people, incredibly realistic-looking people. And they’re often talking to others while they do it, shit-talking to the other guys as they hunt them down and kill them. All the while, inuring themselves to violence and fooling their mind into believing they’re capable of killing people. (Most people, even most soldiers, aren’t actually able to shoot another person when push comes to shove. But practice makes perfect, and realistic simulations (like video games) are even used by the army to help soldiers learn how to kill the enemy. (Live Science)) Continue reading »