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Examination of School Shootings and Student Safety from Public Administration Viewpoint

Abstract

School shootings are a rising issue in the United States. This issue has been residing in society for a long time, but its severity is increasing with time. Many policies have been introduced in recent times in order to provide security to schools. One thing that is worth noting is that this issue has gained momentum, and people are talking about it. The basic step in gaining freedom from this issue is acceptance. This research mainly focuses on how public administration is helping in getting control over these kinds of incidents and what new policies are being introduced.

School shooting incidents are getting severe and serious in recent times that has greatly impacted the society. After the incident of 9/11, Americans have developed a sense of fear in them. This fear has led them to a sensitive point where every incident greatly impacts their minds. School shootings are a heinous crime that can never be justified. There are plenty of cases where school shootings and massacres were conducted out of personal grudges. Personal reasons surely put a whole new layer of pressure in order to control the shootings as be waring of some other person’s heart and instincts is quite hard.  This is why keeping track of public or school shootings is difficult and, in some cases, quite impossible. School shootings directly attack the freedom of young and innocent students. In some cases, the punishment to one cost several lives. This threatens the safety and security of students. There are a lot of incidents that have had happened in the United States that have really disturbed the mindset and freedom of several individuals. This is the point where public administration comes into the picture as the only way people can trust their children to schools is by effective and authentic policies to prevent such hazardous events.

School Shootings and Student Safety

Topic of Research

School shootings are not just a shooting that took place at a certain school, but it threatens the whole nation. The safety and security of each and every citizen is the responsibility of the state. In the same way, maintaining the safety of every student is the responsibility of the school. Further, school as a whole is the responsibility of the state. Check and balance on each and every individual in the school comes under the administration of the school, but when something bad happens, public administration needs to come to the rescue. The whole point of this is that when an unfortunate event occurs, public administrations need to behave as a keen head by providing emotional support as well as evident and policies-based support that can prevent further unfortunate happenings. The responsibility definitely lies on the shoulders of public departments, and it is a basic human right of every citizen to have freedom and security at the same in a state. Showing responsibility, taking the blame, justifying the position, accepting mistakes, digging hard to find the criminals, ensuring justice, all are actions that bring a ray of hope for the sufferers and for the whole society as well. These actions can incline the image of public administrations in the eye of the general public. Along with all this, continuous efforts to serve justice also brings a lot of positive energy to the citizens.

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The way public administrations react to an event describes how vividly an event has impacted the nation. Whenever shootings or other events like these take place, the only hope of people is the law and government. People become vulnerable and motivated after any event like school shootings or massacres, and they expect the government to react actively and vividly. How public institutes deal with the situation has keen importance in the prevention of such events. It’s evident that the aftermath of any unfortunate event gravely impacts the society. Help for the sufferers and survivors by both public and private departments is a sure act after any such event. The spontaneous reaction comes, and after that, no one can be found to propose solutions for the prevention of future situations like these. The only way for public departments to show their grief is by actually doing something to prevent further happenings. When people are vulnerable, any little act can make them appreciate the government, so the role of public administration holds great importance in this matter. Moreover, the amount of panic and fear caused by media also affects common people. Social responsibility is not just for a person or organization, but every citizen of the state has to react according to the situation. The goal should be to calm the people and giving them hope instead of developing a layer of fear around them.

In matters like school killings, the social responsibility of each and every person is quite necessary. Every little detail holds importance. The participation of public departments, school administration, and general people are equally important. But the topic of research clearly depicts how social administration reacts to the conditions and matters is of great importance. Ensuring the safety of every citizen is the responsibility of the state. Public administrations can help by providing the victims with faith and confidence that they are secure everywhere. Not only the survivors or victims, but the general public sitting at home also feel comfortable when the confidence of security is provided by public departments. The center point of this topic is how social behavior is important in order to make the victims feel safe. Along with this, what are the privileges that the victims should entertain, and how public administration can help the people in gaining confidence in sending their kids back to school after such events? All these aspects are extremely important while discussing the effectiveness of the policies of public administration for the general public. In order to link the current shooting rates in schools with on-going security measures by the government, the confidence and trust level of affected parents and kids needs to be measured. Lack of acceptance has caused a lot of issues, and only if we can succeed in changing mindsets to accept the fault society will be a better place.

Literature Review

School shootings are not new to American society as many incidents have taken place in the previous years. This problem arose in the 1960s when many of the schools in America experienced this heinous crime. Its rate steadily increases, and in the late 2000s, its ratio rises to a higher level. The rate of school shootings is still lower than the off-campus violence, homicides, and mass shootings, but the impact it has is surely more than the others. A country’s future is in the hands of students. By providing a good learning environment for the students, a country can produce good competitors in the future. The safe and secure learning environment is the right of every person residing in a state, and ensuring this environment is the responsibility of the state. But over time, what we have been seeing is that schools are now not considered as safe places as described by Schildkraut, Elsass, and Stafford (2016). Moreover, they furtherly deduce from their research that the fear of crime among school-going students is rising. Their moral panic is valid and natural. Keeping in mind the present conditions, with time, the fear of parents and guardians of school goings kids is also rising. The security of students is at risk that has led many of them to undergo mental pressure and illness. Many parents feel insecure and at risk of sending their kids to school amid the public and school shootings for minor reasons.

Cornell (2020), in his special issue called Threat assessment as a school violence prevention strategy, has stated that school shootings in the past 24 years i.e., from 1994 to 2018, have, on average of 23 victims. Of course, the data keeps on changing year by year as the shootings and incidents fluctuate timely. The reason for the conduction of these homicides attacks as classifies by him can be mental illness, school bullying, exposure to guns and warfare, and other non-observant issues. But a person cannot conduct any of such heinous crime on his own as suggested by his research. In most cases, groups or groups of people are involved in these happenings, mostly fueled by bullying, discrimination, peer pressure, or favoritism by the school administration, faculty, or other groups of students. Muschert (2007) has presented long research in the wake of school shootings in which he addressed the possibilities of why people choose to use guns in order to take down something or someone or for revenge purposes. He further essence that the complexity of school shootings increases when we dig deeper as the reasons and deductions keep on increasing. Moreover, another idea worth discussing was presented by him in which he discusses the wake of schools in the light of recent shooting incidents. Just diagnosing the issue is not enough but predicting solutions and examining required changes in the system is worth doing in order to prevent further dark events.

Media is becoming a widespread means of communication, and its roots are growing deeper with time. The 21st century is all about the exposure of the public to the media. Violent and aggressive behavior of someone can cause stress and depression for others quite easily when promoted on media. The same goes for school shootings as well. A certain incident that took place in a certain place doesn’t simply remain to a certain place. Media is playing a major role in panicking the people around the globe, even when their neighborhood and area are quite peaceful, as described by Burns and Crwaford (1999). The media may be only showing news related to the incident, but the way news is presented, and the necessary pressure can somehow cause the nation to question each and every person around in order to feel secure and safe. Seeing the news, many questions arise in the minds. Muschert (2007), in his article Research in School Shootings also creates a link between the moral panic among the nation and the role of media. The fear becomes evident and grave when everyone is talking about a certain issue. This affects not only the social behavior of people but also mental illness. Those who have gone through the situation firsthand are obliged to fear and panic, but the wake of media causes so many issues for the entire world that creates a whole lot of pressure on the government in order to make the people feel secure.

Whenever an event of school shootings took place, the panic among the public is obvious, but the behavior of public administrations is quite important. Panic and fear are natural, but the way social factors react and the actions they made, the strategies they follow are some of the aspects that can help the sufferers to calm down. F. Travis and Kiernan Coon (2005) gave a detailed national report on the analytics and statistics of school shootings and involvement of public administration and law enforcement agencies. They organized level by a level basis in order to measure the performance of law enforcement authorities in the aftermath of school shootings. The locations of schools matter the most in this context as they relate the performance and activeness of this public administration with urbanism, region, locating area and its neighborhood, and the school’s level and reputation. The measurement of how well public administration behaves with the suffering school and the victims were a primary deduction. The performance of public administration, as expected, was clearly discriminatory according to the reputation, neighborhood crime level, and location of the school. Another factor that makes its way in stopping them from cooperating with the victims was race and ethnicity. The biases towards a certain race and the hatred towards the other cause several mismanagements in the performance of public administrations, as described by Travis and Coon (2005). Their research also finds out that the role of urbanism is quite high as the mass and school shootings in urban areas mostly get more attention from both the public serving departments and media as compared to rural areas.

In the wake of school shootings and student’s safety, many writers have argued about gun control and spontaneous reaction from law enforcement departments. Carrying a gun in school is illegal, and many schools have strict policies against it, but outside the premises of the school, students and other people can carry the gun even illegally until they are not caught. Kennedy (2012) has mentioned many writers who have argued about the issue that does gun control stir up the chances of a school shooting or not. In his thesis, the school shooter: a rapidly growing problem for homeland security, he evaluated how gun control can play a role in public shootings. The evaluation was straight and to the point. He gave the verdict that parents should not introduce their kids to weapons and warfare so they will have the least interactions with them, which will further lead to the least attraction. Moreover, Kennedy also claims through a series of references that self-defense techniques are necessary for every kid to learn. Every person, not only just students, need to learn self-defense in order to flee difficult situations. Some people develop instincts abruptly at a difficult time to get away with the situation, but proper learning of self-protection can surely play a major role as far as the security and safety of a person are concerned. Newman and Hartman (2017) also support the gun control verdict, just like Kennedy. They gave their stance that the general public is rooting for gun control as many of them have had experienced gun violence once in their life.

The unavailability of on-point and instant service by emergency units of public administration is one of the main reasons why active shooters roam freely and fearlessly while conducting shootings. Metzl and MacLeish (2015) described this problem in detail. The inactivity of institutions that are specially designed to provide instant services has given confidence to criminals. Students and faculty both have the basic knowledge of calling the emergency numbers in case of any unusual activity, but it can be seen by many examples that authorities don’t take these calls seriously sometimes that also makes administration of the specific area of the country, on the whole, being responsible for events like school shootings. Metzl and MacLeish describe and linked this problem with political behaviorism. As public administration institutes are large-level departments, their service must be quick and efficient, but the present case scenario we are discussing, these departments do not take the emergency calls seriously that gave time to the criminal for not only conducting the crime but also fleeing it. Many writers like Cornell has declared this behavior of ignoring the emergency calls, the promotion of such unfortunate happenings. One thing that must be noted here is that this is not the case in the majority of the country, but some people in these cases have definitely faced this behavior of ignorance. It causes disappointment among people of all the country whenever an issue like this came to the mainstream media.

Young minds are vulnerable and flexible that they can be molded into any shape. The mental health of students is deeply affected by school shootings of violence. The victims are the ones that receive engraved scars. There are many schools who have been the victims of school shooting previously and are still standing tall in their game. The students, as well as faculty members who have experienced such unfortunate events as front hand victims, are the latest one to recover. This surely implicates a responsibility on the school administration, parents, and social culture, and public administrations to make them at ease, as Martell L Teasley (2018) described in her article about the mental health of victims of school shootings. She greatly emphasized that the government needs to provide assistance in the field of mental counseling to the affected schools. Wolfe et al. (2015) wrote a detailed article about what law enforcement agencies need to do and what school administrators have to do in order to ensure the safety of students. First and foremost, responsibility definitely lies on the shoulders of public administrations to make feasible policies for the schools and students to follow. Secondly, they have stated that every school, according to its neighborhood and level, needs to hire and train its staff with arms. In order to protect the children and school, the guards and administration can work hand in hand.

Analysis of Literature

School shootings and similar events are not related to some area, culture, or race but are a worldwide issue. This issue has gained momentum recently and is being talked about. This is such an unfortunate event that its impact is deep that never lets people forget it. Events like these are a direct attack on the future of a country. It takes a lot of courage for parents to send their kids back to school after such events that put a lot of pressure on the government and public administration as well. The safety of students is the first and foremost priority of a State, so any such event directly implicates that improvement is required in the system. The panic of people is natural, and the anger of victims is justified in these situations for which always public administrations are held responsible. In recent times it can be seen that school shooters have become more vivid and unfearful that confuses the administration, and scares the public. Obviously, diagnosing the reason for these shootings is not an easy task, but still, the administration department should always be on duty so people can entrust their kids to them.

There are a lot of cases where the criminal is found dead either by suicide or by police shootings that lead to a complex outcome of what could be the reason for the conduction of such a heinous crime. Any news spread like wildfire around the globe in today’s fast-paced world, which makes it difficult for the administrations to persuade the people and to control the situation. In some cases, the news on mass media is false that endangers not only the safety of the general public but also wastes the genuine efforts of public administration. So, it can be evidently said that mass media is making things difficult for public departments that are actually working hard for the safety of people. Gun legislation also holds great importance in this discussion. General citizens believe that gun control can sort out many issues related to violence in society. But many personal agendas come in the way that has allowed many people to use the gun for illegal purposes and getting away with this easily. Gun control among school kids is not as much under control as it should be. Apart from the law, it is also the responsibility of parents to tell their kids what good for them and what is not.

Whenever the issue of school shootings is being discussed, self-defense instantly clicked the mind. As it has been said earlier that the reason diagnosis of these issues is quite difficult, so the basic need of the hour is to teach each and every individual the techniques of self-defense. The policies need to be introduced in the society on a higher and greater level. Everyone should be aware of the ways that how someone can save himself from difficult situations. Moreover, it should be treated as a responsibility by citizens rather than a simple opportunity. Apart from that, the training of security staff and faculty is also important. Armed training for the guards should be made compulsory by the law enforcement authorities. Social responsibility of people also comes into the picture at this point as simply seeing a crime and passing by is not a civil behavior. Everyone needs to take responsibility as a citizen. Public administration, on the other hand, has to have fast and effective services in every area of the country so no one would suffer for the irresponsibility of the public departments.

The current state of the judicial system and public administration is not ideal. There are many cases where the instant unavailability of public administrations has played a role in causalities. The fault does not belong to a single person but to a group of people. But the plus point is, improvements can always be made, revolution can always be brought. Bringing everyone to justice is the key in order to revolutionize the current conditions. No one should be allowed to get away with crimes easily without paying the price of their deeds. The reason for the conduction of this research is not just diagnosing the issue but also providing the solutions. At this point, it would not be wrong to say that acceptance, taking responsibility, and justice is the three practices that can revolutionize the world of crimes into a peaceful living space for each and every person. In this process, public administration alone will never be able to bring change until people stand by them through thick and thin. Together as one whole, change can be made. This change can revolutionize not only the present but also the future.

Conclusion

Shootings, whether at schools or at public places, are horrific crimes and can never be justified. The loss of even a single innocent person is something that can never be detained. By seeing the current statistics of these crimes, all society needs to come forward together. People that have once faced it can never be brought back to normal by simple verbal consolation, but the physical stance of the words is required for which only public administrations can take a stand. So, in order to gain the trust of people back and to remove illiteracy, the government needs to come up with solid policies and effective methods. Perseverance of law and effective practices need to be introduced. The public, on the other hand, needs to follow these policies with all their heart because genuine tries can literally sort the issue in a short span of time. Both public administration and general people need to go hand in hand in order to prevent such horrific crimes. Along with this, diagnosing the reason why people choose to commit such crimes is also important. This will help in eradicating the root of this issue that would make people live in peace.

References
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