Panel talks gun safety

— Robinson wanted to know how the education and mental health community might address mental health issues without stigmatizing. He said the question is how to address those issues and concerns that may manifest themselves in dangerous behaviors in schools, churches and the community at large.

“We have to be very careful that we don’t create a stigmatizing situation,” he said.

Although the shooters in recent mass killing incidents have generally had mental problems and had been stigmatized by other people, panelist Dr. James Kelleher, chief medical officer at Four Winds Hospital in Saratoga Springs, said most people with mental illness aren’t violent.

“It’s not as easy as pointing to one tell-tale sign,” he said.

Robinson said the problem is identifying “bad guys” versus “weird guys.” He said the challenge is to not be oversensitive and communicate the idea that just because someone is different, they are bad. That can be a difficult message for children, he said.

“We need to foster an environment so students don’t feel like they are snitching,” he said, referring to responding to a dangerous situation. “There is no panacea, no one thing we can do that will solve that,” he said.

He said the schools need to foster a culture so that “someone who is different doesn’t do something to gain attention.”

The media’s contribution

Panelist Rosemary Armao, an investigative reporter and journalism professor at the University at Albany, discussed violence in the media and the effects of a decrease in investigative journalism.

“The media becomes a messenger for violence as a way of life,” she said.

She said in-depth reporting is usually expensive, time consuming and is on the decline, but when incidents like the shooting in Newtown happen, getting the correct information to the public is important. On the day of the shooting, many news outlets reported erroneous information in the heat of the moment.

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