Lately, it seems as though the United States media are overcome with the issue of gun control. Scrolling through Facebook entails the inevitable post about mass shooting statistics; checking Twitter reveals political cartoons regarding the second amendment; turning on the morning news warrants footage from protests and rallies.
These protests, specifically the organized school walkouts that occurred nationwide on March 14, have positively displayed the voices of younger generations who bravely plea for action in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting.
In response to this outcry, some adults have chimed in on the topic. Although they believe that their seniority implies wisdom, those who created the “Walk Up, Not Out” campaign are facilitating more harm than good.
“Walk Up, Not Out” encourages students to walk up to their classmates and say something nice instead of staging school walkout protests. This campaign is promoted by adults who think the solution to school shootings is entirely in kids’ hands, asking nothing of any parents, faculty or politicians.
While general kindness is an ingredient in fostering a safe school environment, the idea that it is students’ responsibility to make sure their schools do not suffer a shooting is completely absurd. Along with being kind, there are a host of other factors that can prevent a school shooting, but some adults choose to ignore them.
A Facebook post by Mount Washington child psychologist and previous “Jeopardy” contestant Rebecca Wald went viral for her criticism of “Walk Up, Not Out,” according to The Baltimore Sun.
Wald wrote on Facebook that the movement is “a campaign of cowardice … that asks literally nothing of [adults]. No tough choices, no exercise of political will, no speaking out to power—just lecturing kids on how to do better. We’re good at that.”
There is a misunderstanding that school shootings occur because the shooters were victims of bullying, a notion that dates back to the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 according to Wald. Many people believe those who commit these heinous crimes are outcasts, so an easy fix to prevent them from doing the unspeakable would be for students to welcome them into their circles.
To the dismay of adults, however, there is no “easy fix” for shootings, especially none that rely solely on children. It had been assumed that the individuals who shot and killed their classmates in the Columbine shooting, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, were social rejects, but Wald points out that was not the case.
“The FBI concluded … that kids didn’t like the boys because they did creepy things like walking around giving the Nazi salute. Even so, a few days before the attack, Klebold took a date to the prom, crammed into a limo with a dozen friends,” Wald said, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Harris and Klebold were not bullied outcasts. Harris was even classified as a psychopath by the FBI, according to Wald. If more people had said “hi” to both Harris and Klebold in the hallways this alone would not have prevented this shooting from happening.
Unfortunately, students who plan these horrible massacres do so because of something deep inside them that should be formally addressed by trained adults, not peers. Being kind is something we should remember to do every day, but kindness on its own should not be expected to yank troubled kids out of their psychological adversity.
The sexist roots behind the “Walk Up, Not Out” movement should also be considered. This campaign holds the implications to not reject a classmate, even in the case of a boy asking a girl on a date, assuming heteronormativity. Once again, the twisted mantra encouraged by this campaign is present. It is up to students to prevent a troubled peer from a downward spiral.
The “Walk Up, Not Out” movement unfairly puts what should be demanded by lawmakers, who are actually in positions to enact change, on the shoulders of students.
This campaign promotes placing an insane responsibility on children who are not emotionally or mentally adept at looking for signs of a plotting school shooter. Ultimately, faculty (many of whom are mandated reporters) and parents should be those who hold this hefty responsibility.