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Glorify the victims of mass shooting, not the shooters

Ron Astor

Ron Avi Astor

The Christian Science Monitor interviewed experts to discuss five ways to prevent future mass shootings such as the tragic incident this month at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Calif.

Experts recommended having people register to buy a gun before getting one, doing more gun violence prevention studies, enlisting more citizen defenders, and having law enforcement do threat assessments.

Meanwhile, National Association of Social Workers member Ron Avi Astor, DSW, a social work professor at the University of Southern California, also recommended media talk more about the victims, their contributions to society, and how their loss has affected others.

That is because articles that focus on the perpetrators can spur a “contagion effect” that spurs potential mass shooters to commit similar crimes to live up to their “heroes” or gain notoriety.

“I’m like everybody else, I want to know who the person is, who his wife was, why they did it – that’s human nature,” Astor said. “But focusing intently on victims and what was lost here in a meaningless and random way … sends a really clear message that the sanctity of human life is so high that it’s unacceptable to shoot somebody as a way to send a message.”

Read the National Association of Social Workers California Chapter statement on the San Bernardino shooting to learn ways social workers can help prevent such crimes. NASW also has a statement on how society can address gun violence, mental illness and racism.

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  1. Hi. I am going to be published in a feature op-ed in tomorrow’s Philadelphia Inquirer. Would love for to post on this website. Let me know where I can send the link.
    Shari Botwin, LCSW

  2. Congratulations! Please email the link to

    Greg Wright
    NASW Public Relations Manager

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