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Editorial: ‘Walk Up Not Walk Out’ promotes victim blaming

It has been over a month since the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people and wounded 14. Students across the country, including Valdosta High School, participated in National School Walkout Day on March 14 to raise awareness of the victims of school shootings and demand new gun law changes.

Some teachers and parents are standing by the alternative to Walkout Day, called “Walk Up,” to encourage students to befriend others who are alone. Ryan Petty, father of Alaina Petty, a victim of the school shooting last month, proposed the “Walk Up” idea.

Petty tweeted, “Instead of walking out of school on March 14, encourage students to walk up to the kid who sits alone at lunch and invite him to sit with your group; walk up to the kid who sits quietly in the corner of the room and sit next to her; walk up to the kid who causes disturbances in class and ask how he is doing; walk up to your teachers and thank them; walk up to someone who has different views than you and get know them…”

While people may agree with this call to action, “Walk Up” is yet another way for school administrations across the country to ignore gun violence. It victim blames the students who were murdered. While The Spectator feels that we should always treat each other with kindness, students should not feel obligated to befriend others who may pose a threat.

“Walk Up” is not a solution to gun violence, a movement to raise awareness or a protest that students should act on. “Walk Up” should already be implemented by students, because they should already be nice to others. We should always be kind to one another, and parents should instill this in their children.

While being kind to one another is great, we should not confuse it with the responsibility of high school students to prevent their school from being the next target.  “Walk Up” is nothing but a distraction from and a derailment to the issue of gun violence. School administrations are toying with an issue that should be left alone. Why should students have to walk up to other students who make them feel uneasy or frightened? Then, they get blamed for not befriending them after they killed their classmates.

Some students who participated in National School Walkout Day were suspended or punished for walking out of class. In Moultrie, Georgia, an hour away from Valdosta, two students were punished at Colquitt County High School for walking out of their classroom. They were assigned in-school suspension. Other schools across the country punished students for walking out of class. Students should be able to use their voice and take a stand political stand on new gun changes. School administrations need to let students have the right to protest.

A Washington Post analysis found that over 150,000 students, attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools, have experienced a shooting on campus since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. As a community and as a country, we need to raise awareness against gun violence by protesting and taking political actions instead of distracting students by creating “Walk Up” activities and banning them from walking out.

We at The Spectator believe we should not derail the real message in front of students. Students need to keep participating in walk outs and promoting a change on gun reform.

This editorial was written by a member of the editorial staff and expresses the general opinion of The Spectator.

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3 comments

  1. The idea adults should instill an inherently dangerous expectation of children is ludicrous. Our children should be allowed to choose their own friends, trust their instincts, and not be given the responsibility of eliminating the threat from potentially violent students. And if our children start to associate with the “wrong crowd” ideally, parents would step in and guide their children away from the threat, not welcome it with open arms. Abrogating adult responsibility by endorsing a “culture of kindness” is the type of platitude that comes from people bereft of actual solutions. Mr. Petty assumes that if our children befriend every social outcast they will magically transform the educational environment into some sort of peaceful utopia. The reality of this “culture of kindness” top down mandate is that your children may welcome dangerous and violent individuals into their peer group that they never would have considered before. Apparently, Mr. Petty believes that all Nikolas Cruz needed was some friends and he would not have tortured animals, he would not have been a hot-headed violent miscreant, and ultimately, he would not have mercilessly shot up the Parkland school. Not only is Mr. Petty’s “culture of kindness” solution illogical it is potentially dangerous.

  2. The idea adults should instill an inherently dangerous expectation of children is ludicrous. Our children should be allowed to choose their own friends, trust their instincts, and not be given the responsibility of eliminating the threat from potentially violent students. Abrogating adult responsibility for the safety of children and compelling the children themselves to fix the problem is the domain of the spineless.

  3. Nonsense & provably false. WalkUp is not victim blaming and to label it as such is not only ignorant, it is reprehensible.

    Creating a culture of kindness is not only vital to creating a safe school, it is also beneficial to improving the learning environment. Couple that with students feeling safe to report potentially harmful behavior, to proper authorities and you can see how important WalkUp is. It has lasting and measurable benefits, something the WalkOut crowd will never be able to show.

    As I am cited in this editorial, and I’ve written on this already, I’ll post two links that explain why WalkUp is vital:
    https://twitter.com/rpetty/status/976239028763873280?s=21
    https://twitter.com/rpetty/status/976323487198515208?s=21

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