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Recently, the hashtag #walkupnotout has been trending all over social media. For those of you living under a rock, this hashtag is referring to the protests in schools regarding gun control, specifically in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Students and parents alike are sharing this message suggesting that students should be paying more attention to their peers and be kinder to all. I think anyone would be reluctant to disagree with this message. However, this quickly turned into a heated debate when people started to make claims that the “walk up not out” movement put blame on the victims. Not only that, but now people are claiming that the movement has racist and sexist implications.

You might be wondering how all of these claims come from a movement that is rooted in encouraging people to be kinder in general. I know I am. Here’s the deal, many websites have popped up explaining how telling kids to walk up not out is not only a poor solution, but it’s also “dangerous” to students. An article written by Danielle Campoarmor comes to mind. In this article she states, “insinuating that children are responsible for mass gun violence because they simply don’t take the time to ‘befriend the lonely kid’ is not only victim-blaming, but dangerous.” To this point, I partially agree, although I don’t believe “walk up not out” was ever meant to put the blame on victims. No child should feel as though he or she is being blamed for such a senseless act of violence. However, we should be encouraging our youth to be caring, friendly, and accepting of all people. Campoarmor continues her rant saying, “We, as adults and educators, should not be encouraging our children to put themselves in potentially dangerous situations with a potentially volatile student for the betterment of everyone else. If a student is violent, they’re violent.” What a pessimistic view on life this is. Campoarmor is basically suggesting that we should avoid these so-called outcasts because they may or may not be violent. She seems to run with the idea that some people are inherently violent and children should just accept this fact, because with stricter gun control a mass shooting definitely could never happen again, right? (rolls eyes).

I have a few bones to pick with her interpretation of “walk up not out”. For one, she insinuates that violent children are just that. Nothing can be done to help them. I would argue this point by reminding you all that the majority of school shooters leave an extensive amount of warning signs before actually committing the act. That being said, if a student took some time to just talk to the person that everyone normally ignores, they might be able to see some warning signs. Or they might just see a lonely person in need of a friend. My point is this: a little bit of kindness goes a long way. Just because a student may or may not be “volatile” does not mean we should teach our children to alienate them. We should teach the youth to embrace people- those who do not look like us, or act like us. This is not to say that kindness alone will end gun violence, but it could. It could save a life or many lives. In my opinion, it will do more than students walking out of class protesting issues they know little about. I’m not so oblivious to say that gun laws don’t need to change, but I’m definitely not so oblivious to say that it’s just a gun problem. It’s a mental health problem. It’s a people problem.

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