The Moral Panic of School Shootings



Welcome students and prospective learners. This is our WikiSpace on the Moral Panic of School Shootings. We are students of Wilfrid Laurier University who have created this WikiSpace to provide you with enough information to help you in your research and studies. Overall, we hope you will come away with a better understanding of moral panic and school shootings. 200609140001_66799.jpg

The term "moral panic" is a complex term, so to break it down and begin with a basic understanding, we will first provide a definition of what it entails.

Definition of Moral Panic:

"Moral panic refers to a condition, episode, person, or group that emerges to become a threat to societal values and interests. Its nature is presented in a stylized and stereotypical fashion by the mass media; the moral barricades are manned by editors, bishops, politicans, and other right thinking people; socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnosis and solutions..." (Altheide, 2009).

In essence, the term "moral panic" makes reference to some condition, event, or behaviour that goes against the norms and values of society. The idea that panic itself arises is due to the mass media's influence on how the condition itself is portrayed. Often, this condition is one which has recently occurred, thus causing a significant reaction from the general public. At other times, it is something which has been in existence for a longer period but which suddenly appears in the limelight. This panic often passes over and forgotten; at other times, it has more serious and long-lasting repercussions and might produce changes in legal and social policies or even in the way that society perceives itself (Cohen, 2004).


School Shootings

In recent years, there have been a number of school shootings in North America and worldwide. Within Canada and the United States, specifically, these shootings have been consistent with each other on the account that they have all been committed by teenagers and young adults. Throughout the four cases we examine, these young offenders used firearms to attack students and teachers within educational institutions. In addition, the intention was to kill as many persons as possible and the offenders took their own lives when their window of opportunity to kill was closed by approaching law enforcement. The end result of these school shooting events as well as all other events like it was overwhelming fear in the community and absolute tragedy for the families and friends of the victims.
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Our Main Focus
This WikiSpace will focus on the subject of school shootings as a moral panic. The next several pages will examine the moral panic that arises in the media following a school shooting event. This WikiSpace will begin by providing a historical overview of school shootings, followed by an analysis of recent and highly publicized school shooting events that have taken place both in Canada and the United States. Pages that follow will examine information including typologies of shootings, profiles of schooters, as well as how and why moral panic occurs following a school shooting event. Additionally, there is further information regarding changes in social policies and an overview of key researchers in this area.

Now feel free to navigate through our site to learn more about the moral panic of school shootings.