With the mainstream media--the news channels and newspapers, in particular--reporting 24/7 about the tragedies occurring in the nation's public schools, the public may be led to conclude that violence in those institutions is on the rise and something is terribly wrong with the nation and its youth.
"Something must be done to end the violence!" they demand.
Yet, as reported in USAToday, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education have issued some statistics contradicting the image promoted by the mainstream media. Believe it or not, safety in the nation's public schools has improved and violence has decreased on almost every measure:
- In the two decades between 1992 and 2011, the "victimization" rate--violent crimes such as assault and rape as well as non-violent crimes like purse-snatching--plummeted from 181.5 incidents/1k students to 49.2/1k students. That's a 72.9% decrease!
- During the same two decades, non-fatal victimizations dropped 71%, from 4.3M to 1.2M. That's a 62.3% decrease!
- In the decades spanning the 1992-1993 and 2010-2011 school years, homicides, suicides and deaths involving intervention by police at school or on the way to/from school dropped from 57 to 31. That's a 45.7% decrease! During past 19 years, there have been 863 deaths (or ~45/year, excluding the Sandy Hook shooting because the data have not yet been updated).
Researchers believe this decrease is due to a greater focus upon mental health and bullying, a greater awareness of a school's culture (e.g., how well students get along with teachers and peers), and basic security steps (e.g., locking doors, requiring visitors to check in, and offering ways for students to report threats anonymously).
The researchers' interest--why the drop in school violence--isn't of much interest to The Motley Monk. What he's interested in concerns how the mainstream media shapes popular consciousness when the reality indicates quite the opposite is fact.
If this is true of school violence, of what else may it be true? Is the mainstream media more interested in informing the public of the facts or shaping popular opinion?
Let the discussion begin....
To read about the report, click on the following link:
"Schools Safe as Ever Despite Spate of Shootings, Scares."