FROM THE CEO
Can the next mass shooting
BY DR. NORMAN B. ANDERSON • APA CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Like so many Americans, APA members were horrified by the Sandy Hook
Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. As psychologists, we were
saddened to be confronted once again with the negative effects of our
nation’s fragmented and under-resourced mental health system.
While there are limits to the answers we have,
psychological science has much to say about
predicting and preventing violence. The goal
will be to share the best available science with
policymakers, the news media, other health
professionals, community leaders and the public.
News reports are suggesting a link between Adam Lanza’s
playing violent video games and his murderous rampage. While
we may never know what motivated Lanza — it was probably
a complex set of factors — APA is in the process (work begun
before the Sandy Hook shooting) of reviewing its 2005 policy
on violent video games to consider research published since the
policy was adopted.
Myth-busting will be an important component of our
communications plan. We will also call for more cross-disciplinary and complex analysis of the antecedents of violent
behavior. We will use our well-established federal advocacy
program to share information with legislators and call for
additional funding for behavioral research.
My hope is that psychology can help the nation turn our
heartbreak over Newtown, Aurora, Colo., Tucson, Ariz., and
other mass shootings into science-based solutions. APA, with
the assistance of our members in their roles as researchers,
practitioners, disaster response volunteers, media spokespeople
and advisors to public officials and policy groups, is actively
engaged in finding those solutions. n