21
Oct 18

Jason Voorhees, You Stay Away!

This year, when I asked my seven-year-old nephew what he wanted to dress as for Halloween, he immediately perked up and exclaimed, “Jason!” If you’re unfamiliar with who “Jason” is, he is the main villain in the Friday the 13th series of films. He is a man with a terrifying mask on his face, who continuously stalks and murders other characters with a giant machete. What shocked me the most about my nephew’s response (other than the fact that I was expecting him to say Ninja Turtle or a car from Transformers) was that he was genuinely excited to portray a violent horror movie character, who is a human, murdering other humans. When I was growing up, it was ghosts, witches and goblins who haunted my nightmares and inspired my costumes, but my nephew has entered into a new world of media that can deliberately show children just how horrible humans can be towards one another. Most researchers even define media violence as visual portrayals of acts of physical aggression by one human or human-like character against another (Huesmann, 2007)

Violence in media is something that will most likely never go away. If we were to limit the violence shown to us on our computers or televisions or video consoles, that would be considered downright unAmerican. My nephew has constant devices to access anything violent. He knows ways around parental controls, or he can simply grab my brothers iPad and search whatever he wants on Youtube. The access children have to media these days are surmountable compared to the access children have had in the past. Now, I’m not saying that any behavior my nephew has displayed has been worrisome in the slightest, he is a great kid, but the availability of this violent media he can assess is alarming.

Short-term exposure to violent media increases the likelihood of physically and verbally aggressive behavior, aggressive thoughts, and aggressive emotions. Recent large-scale longitudinal studies have shown that frequent exposure to violent media in childhood results in aggression later in life, including physical assaults and spouse abuse (Anderson et al., 2003). But, violent or aggressive actions seldom result from a single cause; rather, multiple factors converging over time contribute to such behavior. Accordingly, the influence of the violent mass media is best viewed as one of the many potential factors that influence the risk for violence and aggression. No reputable researcher is suggesting that media violence is “the” cause of violent behavior (Huesmann, 2007). Essentially, yes there is research that has proven that access to violent media can result in violent behavior later in life, but it is never the sole reason why the violence exists. Media can play a huge role in the behavior, but it is not the only reason behind it. Some studies have even focused on the impact of media violence on aggressive thinking, including beliefs and attitudes that promote aggression (Anderson et al., 2003). Violent media isn’t just influencing physical acts of violence, but it morphs the attitudes and thinking of young children.

Children have a way of emulating their experiences, what they watch, what they listen to and who they hear it from. I was a very impressionable child, who was constantly seeking understanding of the world around me. We may not be able to change the amount of violence shown in media, but we can do our part in making sure it is properly monitored for children. It’s easy to assume that parental controls will do the trick, but if a kid wants to see something, he or she will find a way. Vigilance and education are both extremely important in filtering out the beneficial media from the non-beneficial. Hopefully with enough awareness, we can keep our kids, kids, for longer, and hopefully my future child will just say “Ninja Turtle” instead of choosing a machete wielding murderer. Here’s to hoping.

References:

Huesmann, L. R. (2007). The Impact of Electronic Media Violence: Scientific Theory and Research. Journal of Adolescent Health,41(6). doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.09.005

Anderson, C. A., Berkowitz, L., Donnerstein, E., Huesmann, L. R., Johnson, J. D., Linz, D., . . . Wartella, E. (2003). The Influence of Media Violence on Youth. Psychological Science in the Public Interest,4(3), 81-110. doi:10.1111/j.1529-1006.2003.pspi_1433.x

 

 


21
Oct 18

SOCIAL MEDIA & ATTENTION SPAN

Often when I am feeling a bit overwhelmed, or when I feel like I am losing focus, I will close (or temporarily) deactivate all my social media accounts. I pride myself on being self-aware, so it’s not hard for me to realize the off-putting and unnecessary amount of time I give to social media on a daily basis. While it is sad, it is a reality our world lives in. As soon as we wake up, we check our phones. When we’re standing in line at the store to checkout, we check our phones. Waiting for a friend at a restaurant, we check our phones. Even when our phone gives absolutely no indication that we have an unanswered text or phone call, many people (myself included) will check our phone without even realizing it because we thought we heard a chime. In the technological era we live in today, deactivating a social media account is almost like discovering a new world. Suddenly our attention is re-directed to people and things; suddenly details that we would have for sure missed before are abruptly now as clear as day.
In trying to understand why our attention seems to be more fleeting, cognitive psychologists have posed this question: is attention based on location or object? Depending on your environment, the answer is both. If you find yourself in a stagnant position, it will be based more so on the region (Goldstein, 2015). If you are in a more chaotic position, it will be based on an object, or objects (Goldstein, 2015).
For example, imagine you are sitting in your kitchen enjoying a cup of coffee. You are by yourself and other than the low hum of your refrigerator, it is completely silent. What does your attention go to? Maybe you start thinking of a grocery list for next week. Maybe you look at your countertops and start imagining what you would change if you had the money to renovate your kitchen. Maybe you see a magnet on your refrigerator from Paris, which leads you down memory lane to the trip you took a few years ago. Perhaps you smell your trash, reminding you to take it out once you get dressed. Because there is nothing “grabbing” your attention, you can focus on what you want, and for as long as you want. Now let’s switch our environment to be a bit more disordered.
Imagine you are sitting on a packed subway car. Where are your eyes led? Do you notice the advertisements, or the graffiti written on top of them? Maybe to avoid eye contact with someone you stare at the subway map, and start making mental notes of neighborhoods you want to explore later. Do you have headphones in? – Or are you listening to the conversation the man two rows behind you is having on his phone? Are you looking at what people are wearing? Some dressed in suits, some with backpacks, kids in school uniforms, etc. Maybe you look to see the different ethnicities of people. Or if you’re like me, you come up with stories for each person, imagining where they are going or coming from, what their apartment looks like, what kind of job they have, etc.
The interesting thing about the above scenario is that here we would be using what Treisman calls Attenuation Theory (McLeod, 2008). In laymen’s terms, we are being more selective with what we are lending our attention to. In this case, you could simultaneously be looking at the advertisements, listening to the music in your headphones and paying attention to each subway stop, to make sure you don’t miss yours. You are focusing on three different things, but your subway stop is always going to be at the forefront. If you notice though, the one thing I failed to mention in either scenario was the use of social media. In this way, social media seems to go hand in hand with the shortfalls we find when trying to multitask. Doctors have noticed a dramatic increase in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other similar attention disorders in children and the main perpetrator is technology and the use of social media. In referencing to multitasking in the digital age, Clifford Nass stated, “the research is almost unanimous, which is very rare in social science, and it says that people who chronically multitask show an enormous range of deficits. They’re basically terrible at all sort of cognitive task, including multitasking” (Wihbey, 2013).
Attention and our ability to categorize what to focus on is an interesting concept. How is it that a parent doing laundry two rooms down the hall can avert their attention to their two children arguing over a toy; yet, at the other end of the spectrum, a husband can pay attention to the score, names of players and constant movements of a basketball game, but not to his wife talking to him about their plans for the weekend? The answer is simple: our attention is bias. We pay attention to what we want, and when we want. If something is incapable of visually capturing our attention, we will only focus on what we deem to be worthy of our attention at that moment. In a way, the attention (or lack of attention) we distribute to things and people is our brains currency. It is the psychological version of supply and demand; as social media increasingly continues to play an active role in our lifestyle, so will the demand for our attention.

 

References:

Goldstein, E. Bruce. (2015). Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

McLeod, Saul. (2008). Selective attention. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/attention-models.html

Wihbey, John. (2013, July 11). Multitasking, social media and distraction: Research Review. Retrieved from https://journalistsresource.org/studies/society/social-media/multitasking-social-media-distraction-what-does-research-say

 


21
Oct 18

Quantity over Quality: Significance in our Online Connections

Media allows us to connect with a massive amount of people in the modern age. People all over the world are able to connect in a way that was impossible just a few decades ago. In addition, we are inundated with so much more information than ever before. Google is not only a massive data center that holds an answer to every question but “googling” is now a common verb in our vocabulary. But with all this new access to people and communication, are we benefitting or is it proving somewhat of a detriment? We may be making many more connections, meeting new people, but what is the value of these associations? As the world sees a significant increase in the rates of depression, (Weinberger et. el 2018) it suggests that this increase in media access may be overwhelming the psyches of our population.

 

With more than a billion people on Facebook, our access to new acquaintances and our potential for new connections is larger than ever. The current political landscape illustrates that this can be a powerful force for people; it provides the opportunity for people to organize in ways that have been limited in the past. But the social media profile is constructed by the user themselves and they are able to control the perception of themselves. This creates an opportunity for many people to falsely represent themselves. It was reported in the study Self-presentation and gender on MySpace(Manago, Graham, Greenfield & Salikman, 2008) that some users change their gender to explore the possibility of an identity outside their societal imposed gender roles.  While this is a fantastic opportunity for identity development for those who feel limited by current societal norms, it highlights a bigger issue. If our identities and happiness are reliant on our interactions and those connections are not made with real people, how does that affect the quality of our interactions and, ultimately, our well being?

 

In the same article by Manago et al (2008), they report that “we not only define ourselves in terms of our alliance with others but our self-definitions interconnect with the cognitive representations we have for significant others”. The general public is unquestionable making more connections in the world but it is possible that we are doing so under false pretenses and the quality of those connections are not what they could, or should, be to support a healthy sense of self. This explains that although we have access to many more connections and more information than ever before, we are still seeing an increase in depression and a lost sense of self.

References:
Weinberger, A., Gbedemah, M., Martinez, A., Nash, D., Galea, S., & Goodwin, R. (2018). Trends in depression prevalence in the USA from 2005 to 2015: Widening disparities in vulnerable groups. Psychological Medicine, 48(8), 1308-1315. doi:10.1017/S0033291717002781

 

Adriana M. Manago, Michael B. Graham, Patricia M. Greenfield, Goldie Salimkhan,

Self-presentation and gender on MySpace, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology,

Volume 29, Issue 6, 2008, Pages 446-458, ISSN 0193-3973, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2008.07.001.

 


21
Oct 18

How the internet gave me a family

They say you can’t pick your family and I say that’s a lie. I’ll just put this out there that my biological family for the most part give or take a few people (children excluded), are a bunch of self centered, self serving pieces of junk. I learned very early on not to count on them for anything and if i wanted anything for myself I’d have to bee just as self centered when it came to dealing with them if I wanted to survive. Which is why I am grateful for the internet, because it allowed me to choose my family. Suddenly my family became multicultural and I learned sympathy, empathy, sharing, what it means to support someone, and what it means to comfort someone again. I had forgotten that because my mom was too sick and most of my dealings came from the rest of my family who showed me none of this as my mom struggle and I struggled as a child to deal with a parent having a major illness. You’re probably wondering how this came about.

The internet being the big thing here, provided a means for escape and as we all know the internet gave a place for nerds like me to connect to our fellow nerds who held our same interests. Because it was a means of escape and a sign of the times before there was pressure to limit screen time, we all spent a great deal of time talking about our interests and playing games. Soon those topics expanded as we talked about our countries of origin, our career goals, our current lives, took part in celebrations even from afar, and comforted one another in times of crisis. We learned that we could count one another to send hugs when we needed them or validate us when we’ve just had an encounter with a creepy asshole. To you this may seem superficial and you’re probably wondering have I even met any of them.

The answer is I have met with some of them several times and with others it’s a little harder because they claim to live in Australia (but of course we all know that’s impossible because Australia is a place made up of trained actors to keep people in the dark about the world being flat). As well as Singapore which is not far behind on falling off the edge. So excuses on their part really. Because of my chosen family I was able to travel to Canada at a time I probably wouldn’t have otherwise been able too, I’ve now been to Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands.  And to add to that I will likely end up in Argentina and Australia because of my family. The only thing better is when they can travel to me and I can show them my home and discover new places around my own home that I hadn’t yet explored.

Because of the internet I met my wife. Eventually I moved to Germany and am now partially bilingual. And  I know that because I moved to Germany, you think that I would have eventually made my way to other European countries, and yes I would have, but sometimes you can’t put a price on getting a good non-tourist experience in a country.

My world is grander because of them. It has been enriched which is more than I could ever say for most of my biological family. I am inspired to learn words in other languages just by knowing them I’ve picked up words or phrases in French, Spanish, and Dutch that I otherwise wouldn’t know. Although Spanish did have a little help from high school.  And you cannot put a price on a group of friends/family who share their knowledge rather than simply always taking from you.

Media/Internet can be an open door and sometimes the most magical connections happen that leave you changed forever. These beautiful strong women make up my family and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

 


20
Oct 18

Video Game Dance Moves

The discussion on a social cognitive theory by Bangor’s four processes. The first act would be the attention they receive from performing the act. (Scheider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012) As attention is the first process of social cognitive theory can be exciting and entertaining to some and hence why it attracts the attention of some.     Some video games can violent, and addicting where other’s have to replicate video game actions.

Take, for instance, Fortnite dance moves.  The second process is a representative process where the modeled behavior is imitation. (Scheider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012) We see many stars, athletes and other popular figure demonstrating some of these moves.  Why, because they have gained attention from their fan, social media of them performing these moves, and so others will follow whatever they do.

Last spring, during baseball season,  I had my first real experience with seeing my sons’ baseball team and he performs some of these moves. The boys are out in the field, on first, second and even third base and in the dugout, they are doing these crazy moves. Which I found out later, was not medically induced but, dance moves from  “fortnight.”

As the third process is the production process of how someone learns the process of the behavior and imitates it. (Schedider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012) How proud to see your son, who should be paying attention is copying other teammates as one by one, they are passing their time doing these moves while playing baseball.  Thankfully, the coach did not approve of these ritual’s and told the boys, if they needed to do moves in the excitement of home runs, do them in the dugout.

The final process of Bandura’s model focus on social cognitive theory is the motivational process.  These dance moves are motivated to perform and imitate as they are rewarded by the reaction of not only by their peers but from parents.  As I also see, parents themselves try to perform these moves and they can do them quite well.  These moves are not for me, as I can not dance, so I leave it up to my kids.

https://tenor.com/view/fortnite-dance-the-floss-gif-11809160

 

 

You be the judge of the “floss move!!”

 

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.A. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems-2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


19
Oct 18

Dark Side of Social Media

Social media has given us the opportunity to communicate around the world. We can talk to someone across the country or hemisphere with a touch of a few buttons. With so much positive coming out of social media many don’t realize there is a dark side, and many are being affected. Cyber bullying is one of the main negative aspects of social media. In a world that can make a video go viral in matter of minutes it can alter the life of the recipient.

So, what exactly is cyber bullying? This is a form of bullying similar to what happens in social environments. The main difference is that cyber bullying happens of electronical devices, social media, and text messaging. (What Is Cyberbullying) Cyber bullying is harder to see and if the individual being victimized does not speak up it is difficult to aid. Cyber bullying is becoming more common and steps need to be taken to minimize exposure. Anything posted on social media is open to the public and parents to have discussions with their children to help protect them.

1,089 11 to 25-year old’s where surveyed and half said to have received negative commentary. (Social media firms ‘failing’ to tackle cyber-bullying. 2018, February 26) The troublesome information the survey released is that two-thirds said they would not tell their parents if something upset them online. (Social media firms ‘failing’ to tackle cyber-bullying. 2018, February 26) Kids try to handle these situations on themselves but if they don’t receive the proper help the problem keeps getting bigger and bigger. This is when individual become secluded and depressed, slowly they start to shut everyone out of their lives.

Social media is a great asset to have, it is a great tool to use for collaborations or network. What people need to keep in mind is that like everything there are negative people out in the world and many feel brave or superior sitting behind a screen. Media has created a culture that many try to mimic and if a person does not necessarily fit that description they are seen as an outcast. Re-posting and sharing information that is meant for entertainment when it affects an individual is what these social media companies need to keep track of.

Social media firms ‘failing’ to tackle cyber-bullying. (2018, February 26). Retrieved October 19, 2018, from https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43197937

What Is Cyberbullying. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2018, from https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it/index.html


18
Oct 18

Media and Body Image

The media has an immense impact on body image for individuals of all races, genders, and ages, but seems to have the biggest effect on young girls. People are constantly flooded by media images via television, movies, social media, and/or magazines, the list is exhaustive and ever growing. All of these outlets tend to present an unrealistic representation of the average female, creating unreasonably high beauty standards for young girls to try to live up to.

Unrealistically high beauty standards can create an unhealthy self-image. Finding the perfection in others can highlight the imperfections that we see in ourselves. This is especially true for impressionable youth who are dealing with a multitude of changes and information that they are trying to sort through as they develop. These negative self-images and attempts to live up to the perfect embodiment can lead to the development of physical and psychological health issues. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia have been associated with the attempt to try to achieve the perfect body (Berk, 2013). Other issues include depression, anxiety, and body dysmorphia (Berk, 2013).

Researchers have found an association between the media and body image in adults as well as adolescents. The fact that younger and younger children are being exposed to more and more media should be a huge concern. What effects will this have? Will we begin to see these issues related to body image in children even younger than adolescence? If so, what will be the long-term effects?

 

 

References

Berk, L. E. (2013). Exploring Lifespan Development. Hoboken: Pearson.

 

 


17
Oct 18

Mental Illness In Media

The portrayal of mental in media such as movies, books and TV shows is a common trope used to tell a compelling story that captivates an audience. Films such as Fight Club, Secret Window, Split and the classic Psycho all play on over-sensationalized versions of mental illnesses that have come with negative stereotypes relating to our personal understanding of mental illness.

“The worst stereotypes come out in such depictions: mentally ill individuals as incompetent, dangerous, slovenly, undeserving,” says Stephen Hinshaw, a professor of psychology at the University of California–Berkeley. “The portrayals serve to distance ‘them’ from the rest of ‘us.’”

While we are captivated by these films we tend to develop a fear and misconception of individuals who suffer from mental illness; it becomes engrained in our psyche that these individuals are dangerous and should be kept away from us for our safety. Every serial killer from Mike Myers from Halloween to Norman Bates of Psycho are mentally ill individuals with inhuman desire to hurt and kill individuals for the sake of enjoyment. Granted that most of these characters are based off of serial killers that have committed atrocious crimes due to mental abnormalities they have it is goes beyond saying that individuals likes these are a rare case compared to the large number of people who have to deal with mental illness their entire lives.

If media representations of mental illness aren’t improving, individuals can at least become aware of the insidious portrayals that shape their perceptions of real-life people with psychological disorders. That way, they can distinguish between fact and fiction, stereotype and reality and the characters onscreen vs. their real life peers. 

For most audiences who have little to no understanding of the truth behind mental illness a film could help propagate negative stereotypes that stay with them for a good portion of their lives. This is also amplified due to our history with treating mentally ill individuals in inhumane ways going as far back as the turn of the 20th century. Our fascination with the abnormal hasn’t breed enough compassion or understanding to dilute the negative effects of film stereotypes that are continuously portrayed on the silver screen. Instead we as a society still have this chasm between what we considered to be normal and abnormal leading to individuals with serve mental illness to be alienated and misrepresented.

Mental illness itself isn’t the only thing misrepresented in media but also the entire premise of psychology. There seems to be a less that accurate representation of psychology in film that once again relies on the stereotypes and often than not outdated versions of theories and practices that come with the territory. One example that impacted me was the final scenes of the movie “Requiem For a Dream” in which one of the stars of the film who was suffering from a mental episode was forcefully administered shock therapy. Her last scene shows her suffering from the after effects of going through what I can only describe an inhuman treatment. These stereotypes only strengthen negative stereotypes of individuals with mental illness without any effort to properly educate individuals about the realities that most individuals suffer from their entire lives. I believe there needs to be more of an effort to educate the general public about the truth behind mental illness and to remind individuals that what we see on the screen doesn’t always represent reality.

(Warning NSFW)

Aronofsky, D. (Director). (2000). Requiem for a dream [Motion picture]. Paris: Aventi.

How Mental Illness is Misrepresented in the Media. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/04/16/how-mental-illness-is-misrepresented-in-the-media


16
Oct 18

Psychology that WORKS for your Millennial Employee

In the early child education field as a whole, there is currently a significant concern for employee turnover. While I have worked with the same company for ten years I seem to be an exception. Many of the employees who choose to work with us are looking for just a temporary or part time position while they continue their education or after they have retired from a different field of work. Once they finish their school or retire completely they move on to the next stage of their life. Another problem with retaining employees is the popular opinion that early learning providers are simply “babysitters” and it is an easy job. If you can imagine caring for 30 three year olds or 12 one year olds with just one co-teacher then you already know how easy it is! However, sometimes it takes awhile before our shining energetic new employee realizes this job isn’t for them and once again we are at a loss. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to offer the employees competitive enough salaries or benefits to match the school systems or larger companies. So what is a business supposed to do?

There is more behind an organization then the amount of money their employees earn, the key is finding what motivates and builds loyalty in your particular team. As new studies have found, the one-size-fits-all approach to benefits and incentives doesn’t work on the emerging generation of workers. The new age of the workforce has learned what previous generations never did, life is too short to spend it all at a job. “Millenials desire more than just money, material goods, and time off. More than any previous generation, they are in searching of meaning in their work. The likelihood of a Millennial staying in a work environment in which they are not shown the bigger picture or the opportunities that lie ahead for them are slim.” (Millennials Will Work Hard, Just Not For Your Crappy Job) What does this mean? That organizations need to change how we treat staff and look at them as partners instead of just workers and social psychology has plenty of ideas for that!

Where do we start? It can be challenging to revamp your environment and training techniques especially after years of success. Gaining the loyalty of your new Millenials may seem impossible, but it really just takes a few basic steps. Let’s begin with what they want, empowerment. Unlike the rumors that spread about them.. Millenials are ready to work and just as anxious to make a real impact on our world; they just want to know WHY.   “Explain in detail why you do things the way you do. Nothing is more common and more frustrating than the “because that’s the way we do it around here” response when someone is struggling to understand the reason for a particular system or procedure.” (Millennials Will Work Hard, Just Not For Your Crappy Job.) The Social Exchange Theory teaches us that our interactions with each other can be considered exchanges or transactions. Employer interactions are no different. While informing staff about policies or discussing concerns, be sure to demonstrate reciprocity. Millenials appreciate when their boss and management teams use positive, open body language with encouragement instead of just criticisms.

Millienials also like to feel as though they are in control of their future and are entitled to have more. With the Observational Theory in social psychology, staff can be encouraged to display the ideal workplace characteristics, if the same are being modeled for them. If employees are shown positive advancement opportunities, highly dedicated and motivated management teams and an attitude of high employee moral in their peers will encourage new employees to feel the same. Additionally, using self-verification theories to build an understanding of what your workers are looking for and providing opportunities can optimize the loyalty of your team. For example, since we know this generation is driven by hands-on knowledge and instant feedback; provide paid days to attend workshops or conferences for them to obtain new knowledge and then allow them to take the lead bringing it back to the workplace. Not only will they feel they are gaining a lead in their knowledge, they also will relish in the chance to be in the spotlight. From these opportunities new titles can be developed such as “Training Manager” or “IT Specialist” that are not usual departments in small businesses but can give these employees the sense of belonging and extra responsibility they are searching for.

 

Reference:https://medium.com/swlh/millennials-will-work-hard-just-not-for-your-crappy-job-82c12a1853ed


16
Oct 18

Mentally ill Individuals are venerable to Police Brutality

Law enforcement in theory is suppose to help communities and protect citizens from crimes and violence. What happens when Law enforcement is more of a problem than a solution? Recently we have seen an influx of groups protesting police brutality against African-American communities; it led to the controversial group Black Lives Matter to shine a light on such injustices being committed in the United States. Police reform would have been a reasonable answer to such a lingering problem, instead there has been a doubling down of support for officers and the current status-quo of tactics used by police officers that are left to their discretion. The problem has grown to such uncomfortable proportions that any criticism towards police officers are often seen as pure disrespect and a call of “unpatriotic”. Groups further assembled the likes of Blue Lives Matter to shield police officers from any criticism caused by their actions.

Race relations have always been a prominent and volatile subject here in the United States; yet there much to be said about mental illness that often gets swept away under the rug.

In 2015 and 2016 combined, nearly 500 people with mental illness were fatally shot by the police, according to calculations by the Washington Post. This means that for each of those years, one in four police shootings was of a person with mental illness (vox,2015).

As reported by Vox 1 in 4 police shootings was of a person with illness (Vox,2015); which brings the question why is this the case one of the most wealthiest and developed countries in the world? There have been efforts to create an intervention to help mitigate the loss of life in cases like these. Psychologists often release reports highlighting the sad realities of individuals suffering from mental illness being very likely to be killed by police officers. It’s important to state that this in no way is an effort to paint all law enforcement with a broad brush as there are police officers who don’t receive enough credit for diffusing situations using calm and stern approaches to not only save lives of individuals but also to protect themselves. Yet, that is not what is being argued, the problem is larger and it revolves around the inability to enact progressive reform in police departments. Police officers need to learn how to diffuse situations with individuals especially those suffering from mental illness; the tactics that need to be used are not of a full force/lethal force but of intelligence and compassion.

Although Keith was calm, the officer called for backup. Bryon Vassey, an officer from the neighboring Southport Police Department, showed up. Vassey is in his mid-​40s; he has broad shoulders, a thick neck, a ruddy face, and close-​cropped hair. He’d been on the Southport police force for 11 years. “I don’t have time for this shit,

There were two officers across his chest; his stepfather was at his side, trying to get the screwdriver. Wilsey was behind her husband. Seconds later, Vassey pulled out his gun and shot the boy in the chest. The EMTs rushed him to the local hospital, where he was declared dead.

As shown above this was a case of an officer not assessing the situation properly and it led to the death of a young adult whose parents called 911 to help him. The continuation of such police brutality will deter individuals from seeking help from law enforcement in such cases; this can lead to much more dangerous situations. There is a desperate need for police officers to be better trained to understand how to deal with mentally ill individuals through advocacy groups who have the ability to help officers understand which forms of intervention are effective in mitigating death or injury. It’s also important to understand that criticism of police officers isn’t disrespect but a civil duty in order to protect all members of society who interact with police officers.

Roth, A. (2018, May 30). A worried mom wanted the police to take her mentally ill son to the hospital. They shot him. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2018/5/30/17406900/police-shootings-mental-illness-book-vidal-vassey-mental-health


Skip to toolbar