EDITORIAL: Reoccurring violence leads to desensitization


Graphic by Sydney Hamilton

Sydney Hamilton, Editor-in-Chief

In America, violence is seen in many forms throughout games, shows, movies, and especially in real life. It is something that is hard to get away from because humans have normalized it so much. This is desensitization.

According to Cambridge Dictionary, to be desensitized to something means “to experience something, usually an emotion or a pain, less strongly than before.”

This happens after repeated exposure to that stimuli. For example, when Americans consistently see news headlines about gun violence of any kind, the brain becomes numb to those events.

Omaha North Psychology teacher, Andrew Juranek said, “Desensitization is leading us to more and more normal violence. It’s leading us to a behavior that’s…basically just making us more and more [accepting] of violence.”

The more we accept the violence that is constantly occurring around us, the less we will actively do to stop it.

Americans are not doing what is necessary to prevent desensitization, instead they are doing the opposite by not taking any action after something violent, like a school shooting, as well as profiting off of that violence. Companies have started to make bulletproof backpacks and inserts and clear backpacks to prevent injuries from school shootings.

There have also been multiple reports of schools continuing classes after school shootings or students having knives at school.

According to Huffington Post, on the morning of Oct. 29, at Butler High School in Matthews, North Carolina a student fatally shot another student, yet the superintendent instructed that classes were to remain in session but parents could still pick up their children.

The Omaha World Herald reported that on Nov. 14 at Millard North High School, a student threatened and chased another student around the commons area of the school with a knife, but the school was never put into lockdown.

Americans have become so desensitized to violence that they are no longer taking the necessary steps to protect the safety of their students.

Unfortunately, desensitization is not something that can be fixed as quickly as it is created. LaJoy Green, Counselor at Omaha North, thinks conversations and training would bring more awareness.

“I feel like today in society, there’s a lot of things that can’t be fixed, but between awareness and consistent learning and conversation that will help normalize what it is,” Green said, adding, “We’re avoiding the conversation, it’s not really fixing the problem it’s just putting a band-aid over it.”

Juranek believes the media needs to incorporate more positive programs instead of ones with violence.

“Once you’re exposed to certain types of violence and once you see it you can’t un-see it…We need to incorporate a lot more positive programming,” Juranek said.

Many use the excuse that media such as movies, tv shows, and video games contribute to making Americans, especially youth, desensitized. While true, networks and game designers won’t stop putting violence in their products because that is where their profits lie.

“The biggest challenge for network television is to get tv shows that are entertaining that people will watch without putting all the guts and the gore and the violence and all the problematic things that go with it,” Juranek said.

Some good examples of shows that do this successfully though are Blackish, Modern Family, and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. These shows talk about social and political issues that make viewers think and feel while providing a good amount of humor to keep them lighthearted and have no violence.

These are the types of programs that need to be on more often because they are doing what is necessary when there is no other solution. However, there also needs to be more education on the topic of desensitization so Americans can respond more sensitively when violence occurs.

The major thing to remember is to be aware of desensitization. Be aware that emotions change based on how often violence is seen. Letting yourself be desensitized and not doing anything to change that, only hurts future generations.