Linda Chalk explains the connection between gun violence and bullying
Much of the nation’s attention has been shifted to issues concerning gun control as well as gun violence following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., which resulted in the deaths of 26 people.
Ensuing the aftermath, the common question swirling throughout the media seemed to be, what is the trigger to gun violence? Is it bullying? Is it mental health? Or is it something else?In seeking further insight on the ties between bullying and gun violence, Linda Chalk, a staff psychologist in the Shippensburg University counseling department, provided a more localized perspective.
When initially asked about her thoughts on the connection between bullying and gun violence, Chalk hesitated for a moment before explaining that the concepts of bullying and gun violence are both complex, making them both difficult to fully understand or explain.
“It is a mistake to assume there is just one reason that leads to gun violence,” Chalk said.
Chalk went on to say that one can never point to bullying as the sole cause of gun violence.
However, she agreed that there is a correlation between bullying and gun violence and that bullying is a risk factor that can potentially aid in triggering violent behavior including gun violence.
“To understand the link between bullying and gun violence, we must understand bullying first,” Chalk said.
According to Chalk, the mental image most commonly painted when thinking of a bully is the “playground bully” that is often depicted throughout society. However, bullying comes in many different forms.
“There is not a given type of person that is a bully or that gets bullied,” Chalk explained. “Most people who are bullying don’t even see themselves as a bully.”
According to Chalk, online bullying is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society.
Chalk believes that the increased amount of interaction done online or through text messaging leads to an increase in online bullying as people can avoid face-to-face interactions and the consequences of bullying.
Because people do not see the consequences first-hand, they sometimes do not even realize the harm they are causing.
Also, Chalk said that one may resort to gun violence for many different reasons such as revenge from being bullied, a mental illness, or many other reasons.
Although Chalk believes there is a correlation between bullying and gun violence, she explained that those who bully or that are bullied do not necessarily resort to violence.
Chalk also said it is difficult to fully grasp the reasoning behind one’s actions in a shooting as they often take their own life.
But, the availability of guns, the publicity and notoriety that stories get, along with countless other reasons, can all be triggers to gun violence.
Nonetheless, Chalk explained that after an incident such as the shooting in Newtown, society must work backward in order to move toward prevention.