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Do We Live in a Violent Society? [POLL/AUDIO]

With what seems like a preponderance of school shootings, lockdowns, “knockout” attacks, and deadly carjackings, our society seems more dangerous than ever — but that perception could be wrong.

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Flickr User Ho John Lee

“I think what’s different now is there are more means to spread the news, whether it’s Twitter or cell phone photos, it’s just more information out there, so we’re much more aware of those things,” said Dr. Deborah Carr, professor of sociology at Rutgers University.

Carr said the struggling economy could be responsible for increased carjackings and muggings, but adds the pressure cooker-type society we live in could also be responsible. That includes violent acts depicted on television.

“If we see violence every day on TV, that might send a signal to some people that ‘hey, it’s normal, it’s typical,’” said Carr, “and people are less reluctant to do something that they might not have done under better circumstances.”

In addition to the news and social media, Carr said accounts of violence from different media in general can create a blur, making it difficult to tell fact from fiction.

“They can’t tell if a violent act is something fictional happening on a show like ‘Breaking Bad’ or whether it’s something real that they’ve seen on Facebook that someone videotaped on the street,” said Carr.

Constant news about violence can be especially disheartening if you’re a parent, according to Carr.

She said it’s important for parents to teach their children empathy so they don’t become perpetrators of violent offenses, and “to recognize that even a random person on the street, a homeless person or older adult, is a full person who deserves our respect.”

Carr also said that kids need to learn to stand up to bullies.

For adults and children alike, she recommends taking occasional vacations from violent media, both to stop themselves from being desensitized and to help them “decompress a bit, and go to a peaceful place.”


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