Temple doctor working to change how mass shootings are perceived in urban areas

Justin Udo
November 20, 2019 - 6:40 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Philadelphia doctor is working to change how mass shootings are thought of and how they're perceived in urban areas like Philadelphia. 

Dr. Jessica Beard works in trauma and surgical critical care at Temple University Hospital.

"Which means I care for the victims of gun violence every day, and really I'm the front lines of that," she said. 

Working with those victims led Beard to question what exactly is a mass shooting, how are they reported on in a city setting and how does the media treat those shootings. 

"Traditional definitions tend to exclude criminal or gang activity. What we wanted to do was look at and see sort of how commonly high casualty events that could look like mass shootings to a neighborhood occur," she added. 

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She says her team found that from 2006 to 2015, Philadelphia experienced 46 neighborhood mass shootings — shootings where four or more people are shot in an area in a one hour span. 

In Philadelphia, 15% of these incidents received no identifiable media coverage.

"Neighborhood mass shootings happen commonly in Philadelphia, and they're likely underrepresented by the public and policy makers because they appear to be underreported by media," Beard said. 

Only two headlines, she said, used the term “mass shooting,” and both were for one incident.

She added that identifying more of these shootings as mass shootings can help bring more attention and help to neighborhoods that need it.