When learning anything, the simplest way to begin is to copy others.

Whether it’s perfecting the form of a jump shot, stealing the mechanics of a story, or even committing a crime, the quickest way to learn is by imitation.

This especially rings true for major crimes like murders as they are not easily repeatable.

Unfortunately, major crimes like mass shootings receive heavy coverage from the media and this in turn brings to light details on the crime that an aspiring criminal otherwise would have been ignorant of. As such, media coverage may inadvertently inspire aspiring criminals.

While the details reported in news assists twisted souls, that does not mean media should not include these details solely because of this fact as the public should know what mistakes or events spiraled so massively to create this situation.

A recent study by Arizona State University supports the assertion that copycat crimes have been on the rise.

“They [a research team at Arizona State University] determined that mass killings – events with four or more deaths – and school shootings create a period of contagion that lasts an average of 13 days,” wrote Rebecca Howe of ASU News. “Roughly 20 to 30 percent of such tragedies appear to arise from contagion.”

Essentially, this evidence reveals a correlation between mass shootings and the increase of them after one has been reported heavily by the news.

With this information, it could be inferred that details regarding how these dastardly crimes were executed by the news are incorporated into the plans of these aspiring murderers.

For instance, information about the crime that copycat killers wouldn’t have learned about, such as what type of approach they used, or if they were wearing a bulletproof vest, can be learned and repeated due to such an emphasis that the news places on these crimes.

However, this emphasis and information is necessary.

“I don’t think that anyone has to read the coverage to think, gosh, I think I’ll wear a bulletproof vest,” Melinda Henneberg, a reporter of The Washington Post, told NPR in response to Dr. Carl Bell’s assertion that people would learn how to pull off shootings from the details of the news. “I also think that practically speaking, what are you saying? We can’t communicate about the biggest tragedy going on in our country? I don’t understand what he’d be prescribing.”

While it is possible that people do indeed learn some details from the coverage of the news, some details, like wearing a bulletproof vest, will probably go unheeded.

Although there is a correlation between reports of shootings and their increased prevalence, that is an unfortunate effect that may not be avoidable.

The alternative—not reporting on shootings—is not clearly a superior decision. While perhaps it might cut down on a certain number of mass shootings, they will still occur. Where there are people feeling insecure, isolated and ignored, there will come a shooting eventually.

Not reporting on mass shootings to avoid glorifying the shooter appears sound at first, but also disrespects the lives of the victims as well.

Some suggest not naming the shooter, but shouldn’t those related to the victim, whether in the same state, town, or family, know the name of the person that took away the lives of so many?

Details like what, where, and how need to be reported so that people understand what went wrong. Shootings will continue whether these details are reported or not. What perhaps may help hinder the number of these shooters is understanding them.

They are often controversial, fearful, and most of all, human.

“I wanted attention. If someone would have come up to me and said, ‘You don’t have to do this, you don’t have to have this strange strength, we accept you,’ I would have broken down and given up,” Trunk, the nickname of a young man that was seconds away from almost becoming a mass shooter, told Esquire.

The people that end up cracking under the pressure are those who are bullied, teased and are lonely due our actions or simple indifference.

The most powerful deterrent of mass shootings may simply be reaching out to somebody and lending an ear.

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