“Unfortunately, it may be a problem that we can’t remedy—it may be a bad cancer for which there is no cure in our world today...”
UNCP Professor and Chair of Sociology and Criminal Justice Dr. Mario A. Paparozzi shared his thoughts and perspective on violence in society following the shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa. late October.
Paparozzi draws from his previous experiences as both a parole officer and husband of a former prosecutor.
“So, we’re very involved in crime outside of academia,” he said.
Paparozzi said that although no one can really explain the cause of these occurrences, there are a number of factors, in his opinion, that contribute to these tragedies and disasters.
Among these contributing factors are child rearing/development, the detachment of society, hatred and evil of individuals.
“More than half of the children in our country are not being reared at home with a natural parent or grandparent,” he said, citing that the idea is from a traditional view.
Paparozzi also stated that discipline has become an issue with far reaching effects.
“Discipline is a big problem with children,” he said. “Well, they’re growing up to be the kinds of people we see.”
However, he also said that it’s important to remember how small the percentage is of those who grow up and become the unhinged mass shooters we see today.
He said of the individual, “We’ll never really know what accounts for their particular behavior, what happened to them in their lives…”
“Honestly, there are probably for every one of these people who commit these terrible crimes, there are probably a whole different package of explanations that go with each one and that’s the problem,” Paparozzi said.
A Detached Society
He described our society today as being more detached.
Many individuals no longer know their neighbors who live just down the street.
He described this detachment as a feeling of “no sense of connection, compassion and belongingness” to others or even those around us.
One contributor of this detachment which concerns Paparozzi is the “digitization” of the world.
Also, he said that in his opinion, social media, which helps connect everyone is actually disconnecting us from “social interactions, personalities, the ability to read people, assess people” and “to connect” with each other face-to-face.
Additionally, often, people misread messages from others and behave in ways they never would face-to-face through texting, emails and social media outlets.
“All of these things have led to an element of society that is toward detachment rather than attachment,” he said.
Hatred of a Group or Individual
An example of hatred Paparozzi gave was Hitler and the Nazi party.
“How could people hate people so much?” he asked.
Another example was slavery and the racial segregation of America. He also said the Egyptians’ hatred for the people of Israel.
He tied these things in with shootings at the synagogue in Pittsburgh and the one at the Baptist church in Charleston, S.C. and asked “What kind of monster does that?”
“Maybe if you knew the person you’re supposed to hate, you’d wonder ‘why do I hate this guy’ or ‘why do I hate this woman,’” said Paparozzi.
Although many people debate the existence of good and evil or supernatural forces, Paparozzi thinks evil is very real and evident in the world we live in today.
“I believe that evil exists in the world. I don’t know the extent of it, but I believe that some people are just downright evil,” Paparozzi said.
Years of interacting with criminals and transporting individuals who have committed terrible crimes have shaped the way he thinks of the existence of evil.
From a sociological perspective, it can’t be proven, he said.
However, when someone asks him what he means by the term “evil,” he tells them “you’ll know it when you see it.