Spin Cycle

12.18.12

Gender Split Over Newtown Shootings

More women see a broader societal problem

A striking gender gap has emerged in the way that people are reacting to the horror of the Newtown school shootings.

By a margin of 54 to 37 percent, women say the Connecticut massacre reflects broader problems in society. But men, by a 51 to 39 percent margin, say such shootings are the isolated acts of troubled individuals.

That’s according to a Pew Research Center survey that provides the first detailed snapshot of public reaction to Friday’s tragedy.

There is a partisan tilt as well, with 54 percent of Democrats saying such shootings reflect societal problems, and 49 percent of Republicans blaming troubled individuals. College graduates (54 percent) were also more likely than those with no more than a high school degree (42 percent) to blame the broader problems of society.

One thing that cuts across demographic lines is the intense level of interest in the tragedy. Some 57 percent of Americans say they are following the Newtown story very closely, the highest level since the Columbine attack of 1999 (68 percent). By contrast, 49 percent said they followed last summer’s movie theater attack in Aurora very closely.

The widespread media attention has created problems for parents. Some 53 percent of parents included in the survey—and 71 percent of those with younger children—say they are restricting how much coverage of the tragedy their kids watch. And in a separate Internet survey, only 48 percent of parents with elementary-school children say they have discussed the matter with their kids, compared to 72 percent of those with children in grades 6 through 12.