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How to avoid becoming desensitized to gun violence at schools

Body language expert Blanca Cobb, gives us advice on how to cope after instances of gun violence.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Within 13 days, UNC-Chapel Hill officials have locked down the university because of an armed and dangerous person on the campus. In the first incident, a professor was shot and killed. In yesterday's incident, a suspect was arrested, and no one was hurt.

Although gun violence on college campuses is rare, two incidences of different armed people on the same campus are unnerving. These types of situations can bring out a variety of responses. People can experience a range of emotions and reactions to these types of situations. You have to be careful of coping mechanisms that can reach an extreme level, such as desensitization and hypervigilance.

Desensitization is like a non-reactive response. If you feel that nothing can be done to stop gun violence, then you might not be willing to take any safeguards to protect yourself. Instinctively, you'd react in the moment, but you might not do anything to keep yourself safe outside of a crisis. Instead, it's in your best interests to do what you can to stay safe and vigilant.

On the other extreme is hypervigilance, where you're extremely worried and cautious about potential gun violence. Some people won't leave their homes because of the possibility of a shooting. The hypervigilance can lessen how much they enjoy their lives. A better way to cope is to stay alert to your surroundings, follow safety protocols, and continue your daily routine.


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