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Media’s Neglect of International Atrocities Feeds Ignorance

Illustration by Gemma Fa-Kaji

As high school students, we are in the last stages of our youth. That does not, however, mean that we get to stop educating ourselves on the problems that plague the global community. With the world consisting of almost seven and a half billion people, it is no secret that we have a plethora of issues that ruin our chances at a utopian society. As we venture out into our professional lives, it’s important that we remain informed on issues that are happening in the world.

Problems arise when we turn only to the media for our intel, since it only focuses on a small margin of the suffering, injustice, and environmental disasters around the world. Combined with the tendency to cover issues for only 24 hours before moving onto the next White House scandal, you can’t educate yourself on the world’s problems by looking at CBS, NBC, or Fox. The same goes for looking at the DailyMail story on Snapchat.

An unknown issue to many Americans is the religious persecution taking place in Myanmar. For the past five years in the Rakhine State of Myanmar, a mass genocide has been occurring against Rohingya communities, a Muslim minotiry population in Myanmar. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been taken by the Myanmar Army and the majority of people in the United States are unaware. Action needs to be taken on an international level to hold these people accountable, yet the scarce international coverage makes global recognition difficult. International pressure on the government of Myanmar could greatly benefit the victims of these crimes against humanity, but are unseen because of the lack of awareness.

United Nations Women (UN Women) reported that out of the top 25 countries with high violence against women, 14 were in Latin America. Domestic violence, rape, and femicide are common fears for women in everyday life, and statistics show that in “some countries of the region, the domestic violence rates are as high as 50 percent,” as stated by a UN Women report. It gets worse. A fear to report atrocities means that these rates may be even higher than reported, and even more women have suffered violent crimes against them due to gender.

Four years after the Flint water crisis, residents have suffered at least 90 official deaths due to the contaminated water. According to federal standards, the water is safe to drink, and free bottled water programs that were once provided to citizens have been revoked as of April of this year. While this large issue is pretty much legally resolved, it happened over a four year timeline. Social media platforms and nightly news broadcasts have a very strong role in directing the attention of the public and Flints issues have largely been forgotten.

These are just a few of the terrible terrible events being overlooked around the world. One of the reasons it appears as if people don’t care about the problems of the world is because they don’t believe they can make much of an impact. But that isn’t true. Simply raising awareness for issues, or fundraising for organizations that are on the ground can make an impact. Raising awareness through social media can inspire coverage on cable news, and writing to your local representatives can inspire change from the government.

Atrocities can keep occurring because no one is conveying the message that a change needs to be made, whether it is to the media or to those in power and responsible. Moving forward, we must attempt to maintain awareness of issues outside our immediate communities in addition to those we face ourselves. This effort could be the key to making the tangible change we are aiming for.