Address violence to avoid desensitization

Staff Editorial: The opinion of the El Vaquero staff members



In 2021 alone, the United States experienced 31 school shootings, according to Education Week

From the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 to the Oxford High School shooting at the end of 2021, the average American has become desensitized to violence, or the process in which initial responses to violent stimuli are reduced, thereby changing an individual’s present internal stat’ according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. As citizens of a country that continues to deal with high levels of violence, we must be more attentive in order to not become desensitized.

Every year, there are multiple cases of gun violence plaguing our country, many of which occur on school grounds. Whether it be universities, high schools or even middle and elementary schools, gun violence absorbs the spotlight for a few days before being removed as new events roll in. A 2021 Pew Research study found that about 48 percent of Americans today, less than half, see gun violence as a big problem. With this mentality, the persistence to integrate stricter gun mandates has decreased to 53 percent this last year. We see guns as less of a threat, despite what they are capable of doing in the wrong hands as we continue onwards into the future. Growing up with the fear of dying to one bullet, many of us have now come to terms with the possibility of being shot. When we are only informed of the bare minimum when each tragedy occurs, we just continue to live our daily lives, leaving this in the back of our minds. 

Some may say that many are not desentized to violence as there are constantly activists and activism against the tragedies we see today. However, these activists often do not last long, or are performative, and are therefore ineffective. The violence we experience can be exposed in real life, or in video games and has caused desensitization. According to an article published in the American Psychological Association in 2013, exposure to violence at a young age can cause future aggression in behavior and a decrease in empathy. There are so many tragedies happening one after the other that each does not last long enough in the news cycle for the country to mourn properly before the next occurs. As the environment we grow up in and the experiences we have everyday can heavily affect our perception of violence, the right and the wrong, we need to start opening our eyes to what is happening around the world. We are slowly losing our empathy towards victims, and becoming desensitized to what truly matters. By becoming more conscious of the content we consume, we can create positive long lasting impacts in the future. 

As violence is perpetuated, we gain a sense of hopelessness and acceptance to it in our everyday lives. Many of us will develop coping mechanisms; some will focus on the good or ignore the bad all together. According to a 2017 report by the Wilson Center, we are taught to only speak about the positives in life, what we consider beneficial to our society and silencing out the bad. This concept is known as social silence and is typically found with social forgetting. As we are exposed to violence, many of us do not speak about it, believing the topics to be unpalatable. In reality, it is more important than addressing the weather weekly as a horrific event occurred. 

As a community we must address tragedies with empathy and respect towards the victims. While speaking of these tragedies, we can learn to become better members of our community and prevent similar events from happening in the future. History evidently repeats itself, we should learn from the past and work towards a brighter and safer future.