Easy access to gun, violent media increase risk of child becoming shooter in U.S.: scholars
Children in the United States are being influenced by gun violence depicted in media and easy access to firearms in their homes, which explained the tragedy of a first-grader shooting his teacher in Virginia, according to an analysis published Thursday.
In an article released by the media network the Conversation, Brad Bushman, professor from the Ohio State University, and Dan Romer, research director from the University of Pennsylvania, elaborated on the factors regarding how a child in the United States becomes a shooter, after a 6-year-old boy shot a teacher at Richneck Elementary School in Virginia last week.
The scholars said acts of gun violence in PG-13 movies have nearly tripled in the 30 years since the rating was introduced in 1984, while another 2019 survey of adults further showed that 12 percent said they were allowed to watch PG-13 movies between the ages of six and nine, with 6 percent saying they watched such films at an even younger age.
Violent media can lead children to engage in more dangerous behavior if they find a real gun and desensitize or numb children to violence, increasing the possibility of them imitating the aggressive behaviors they watch and considering such behavior as normal, they warned.
Besides, they also noted that the United States has far more civilian-owned guns per capita than any other country in the world, with 120.5 guns per 100 residents.
Children are naturally curious, and adults often underestimate their ability to find guns hidden in the home, the scholars said.
As every year more than 300 people in the United States are either wounded or killed in unintentional shootings by children, Bushman and Romer urged gun owners to lock away firearms, unloaded and with ammunition stored separately, especially if there are children at home.