Moral Panic Research Paper

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Moral Panics: A Literal Hyperbole and Examining the Hurricane Katrina Aftermath and the Columbine Shootings Criminology is continuously changing and developing. Advances of technology have made media our primary news source for crime. We believe the stories told by our local news media, not doubting a word because these sources are supposedly reliable. Nevertheless, they sometimes do spread false information. It may be intentional or unintentional. According to Cohen, media presence amplifies a problem which did not previously exist (Steeves and Milford, 2015) thus creating a moral panic. As media influence increases, it is necessary for criminologists to study moral panics, such as the Columbine School shootings or the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. …show more content…

36). They also characterized moral panics using the following five features: “Concern”, “Hostility”, “Consensus”, “Disproportionality”, and “Volatility”, which typically occur sequentially. Moral panic itself is defined by Cohen as when “a condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests” (Burns and Crawford, 1999, p. 148). The subject and duration of a moral panic varies. It may be new or it can be something that has existed for a while but only for a certain time is it seen to be problematic. It can suddenly appear then quickly disappear or it may produce noticeable differences in law or in society (Burns and Crawford, 1999, p. 148). It can be proven both, the Burns and Crawford article entitled “School Shootings, the Media and Public Fear: Ingredients for a Moral Panic,” and the Brezina and Phipps article entitled “False News Reports, Folk Devils and the Role of Public Officials: Notes on the Social Construction of Law and Order in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.” fully demonstrate the social reaction to the event they are describing meets the definition of a “moral panic” according to the definition by Cohen (Burns and Crawford, 1999, p. 148) and Goode and Ben-Yehuda’s five features (Steeves and Milford, …show more content…

This nationwide panic of school shootings and juveniles synonymous with “folk devils” can be shown using the five features presented by Goode and Ben-Yehuda (Steeves and Milford, 2015). There was initial concern, as several high profile incidents occurred within a period from late 1997 until the Columbine shootings on April 20, 1999 (Burns and Crawford, 1999). The media played a key role by describing the horrifying accounts after each shooting to the public, while they also advertised the funerals of victims throughout social media, radios, and televisions (Burns and Crawford, 1999). Much of the concern is depicted through the actions taken, by “hiring additional security guards”, “installing metal detectors in schools”, and creating “school lockdown procedures” (Burns and Crawford, 1999, p. 152) to name a few. Next was hostility, shown through the “punitive and restrictive responses”, implemented and directed towards “juvenile delinquents” (Burns and Crawford, 1999, p. 153). It became a felony to “expose children to books, movies, and video games that contain explicit sex or violence” (Burns and Crawford, 1999, p. 152). Fueled by the words of Juvenile Magistrate Deborah Robertson, Reverend Mark Clark, and

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