In the 48 hours after the attack on the Thomazia Montoro State School, in the Vila Sônia neighborhood, in the city of São Paulo, the Public Security Secretariat of the State of São Paulo (SSP-SP) recorded seven incident reports with plans by teenagers who intended to carry out similar attacks. in a school environment. The secretary’s suspicion is that the wide dissemination by communication vehicles and social networks of the action at the Montoro school caused a “contagion” effect, and motivated other students to repeat the attack.
“We are working to identify and curb possible cases, because that is the role of the State. Meanwhile, I ask that everyone review their responsibility as a society. That the press does not exhaustively reproduce the images of the attacks and that the population does not share them on social networks”, said the secretary of Public Security, Guilherme Derrite. “The contagion effect is a reality and is demonstrating in practice what happens when a case is disclosed exhaustively in this way”, he added.
According to the SSP-SP, among the cases registered after the attack on the Vila Sônia school is that of a teenager in the 9th grade of elementary school at a school in the capital of São Paulo who was armed at the educational institution. The occurrence reached the police via Dial Report.
In Itapecerica da Serra (SP), a mother reported that her son was threatened by another student at a school. The teenager would have made promises of an attack similar to the one in Vila Sônia. In the same city, military police were informed that a student was near the school with a gun. He was found with friends, confirmed that the gun was with him, and then exhibited a simulacrum.
In Santo André (SP), a student threatened the teacher during class saying that teachers should be stabbed, as was the case with the teacher at the Vila Sônia school, and that he would do the same the next day.
In the same city, the coordinator of a school did not authorize the entry of a student on suspicion of being armed. Days before, the student had fought with another colleague and said he was going to kill him. It was found that the weapon was a simulacrum.
Also in Santo André, an 11-year-old child was found carrying a simulacrum of a firearm inside the school.
In São Bernardo do Campo (SP), military police were informed by the deputy principal of the school that there was a student carrying a small dagger in the classroom. He was approached and said he had taken the artifact to show his colleagues, without having threatened anyone, but reported that he had been suffering homophobic offenses and that he had acquired the dagger to feel safer.
According to the journalist, public and content editor at the Education Journalists Association (Jeduca), Marta Avancini, the great visibility given in the media and social networks to an attack, such as the one that occurred in Vila Sônia, can stimulate other similar cases. . “Some studies in the United States, mainly, which is where this type of phenomenon is common, more recurrent, show that for every attack on the school, three others are triggered”, she points out.
“To a large extent this happens because of the visibility that these cases end up having. There is a phenomenon called the contagion effect. From the moment you disclose, that you bring a lot of visibility to this situation, in a certain way, you end up stimulating similar cases. As soon as the news began to circulate, we began to see, in various vehicles, videos of the moment of the aggression. This type of display is extremely harmful,” he added.
According to Avancini, exposure of the adolescent aggressor should be avoided because, in addition to disrespecting the Child and Adolescent Statute (ECA), it can become a trophy for him. “One thing that is not recommended is for us to keep putting the name, putting the image of the aggressor. Because the visibility that this person achieves can be used as a way of praising the author, of valuing the act”.
For the researcher and professor of Journalism at the University of São Paulo (USP), Rodrigo Ratier, the journalistic coverage of the attack on the school in Vila Sônia tended towards sensationalism and the unbridled search for the audience.
“I think that, once again, the coverage she has sought excessively from the audience. I think she has a predilection for the click, for sensational material, slipping into sensationalism. The literature brings us the idea that the debate about this type of massacre, in fact, can lead to other massacres. I fear that the coverage, as it is being done, could feed the contagion effect”.
According to the researcher, the young aggressor’s own behavior may prove the thesis of the contagion effect, caused by the excessive publicity of the attack that took place in 2019 in Suzano (SP), when two teenagers killed five students and two employees of the Raul Brasil school.
“The shooter himself positioned himself on the internet using a nickname that, in reality, was the last name of one of the perpetrators of the massacre at the Raul Brasil School, in Suzano. In his own case, we have some evidence to believe that this contagion effect may have happened”.
Ratier also points out that the massive exposure of the scenes of the massacre can also deepen the pain of the victims. “This excessive number of details about the crime, this repetition, can favor the contagion effect, in addition to, evidently, reinstalling and deepening this trauma in those who were directly affected”.