道德恐慌是对社会价值、规范或问题的过度反应。这并不意味着没有问题，社会只是夸大了什么，但问题的程度和意义被夸大了（科恩，2002）。道德恐慌的主体可以是一个新的情况或某个一直存在，但是突然得到了所有的关注（Marsh &麦尔维尔，2011）。根据科恩的情况，强调了媒体作为把一个问题转化为一个急救条件的代理，需要重视（Marsh &麦尔维尔，2011）。同时，道德恐慌的情况还表明当专家或决策者喜欢的企业家，政治家，等加以分析，作战或提供这些问题的解（Krinsky）。道德恐慌的特点包括问题的关注和焦虑，对社会的威胁源的敌意，达成共识，人与人之间的对抗敌人，不均衡性意义强烈的反应和波动的情况在不断强调一个点，然后消失很快（贲烨虎大，2009）。
Moral panic is a state of over-reaction to a social value, norm or problem. It does not mean that there is no problem and society is just exaggerating on nothing, but the problem’s extent and significance is exaggerated (Cohen, 2002). The subject of moral panic can be a novel situation or something which has always been there, but has suddenly got all the attention (Marsh & Melvill, 2011). According to Cohen, the situation is highlighted by media which acts as an agent in turning a problem into an emergency condition, requiring utmost attention (Marsh & Melvill, 2011). Along with this, the moral panic situation is furthermore indicated when experts or policy makers like entrepreneurs, politicians, etc try to analyse, combat or provide solution to these problems (Krinsky). The characteristics of moral panic includes concern and anxiety over the problem, hostility towards the source of social menace, consensus between people against the enemy, disproportionality meaning strong public reaction and volatility of the situation becoming highlighted at a point, then fading out soon (Ben-Yehuda, 2009).
The western Australian’s reaction to shark attacks, when compared, seems like a situation of moral panic. It can be asserted by comparing the characteristics of any moral panic situation and this one in particular. Sharks biting people is not a new situation, but one which has long been there. There is extra coverage by media of this issue and strong public reaction as well as intervention of the politicians and government in the matter (Neff, 2012). The entire situation is similar to that of a moral panic condition. The most important one being the outrage of people and hostility towards the enemy, sharks an animal, which has been condemned by even the government now (Neff, 2012). Many cases of shark bite incidents have occurred on the Australian beach, some of which proved to be fatal. The beach is being called with various names like Australia’s deadliest shark coast and the sharks are being called by hostile names like the predators, etc (The Converstaion, 2014).