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.