The PawPrint

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Walk up AND walk out

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In response to the Valentine’s Day shooting at Stoneman Douglas high school in Broward County, Florida, people have been faced with a choice. It seems as though students are encouraged to either “walk up” or to “walk out”. But why not both?

One side is walk up. The walk up movement is urging students to reach out warmly to their classmates who appear to be isolated, lonely and, potentially dangerous. While on the other hand, the walk out movement is encouraging students to protest gun violence or walk out of their class out of respect for the victims.

In his tweet a grieving father who lost his 14-year-old daughter, Alaina JoAnn Petty, to the Valentine’s Day shooting. Ryan Petty said, “Instead of walking out of school on March 14, encourage students to walk up. 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, smile and say Hi; 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 to know them.”

He finished off the post by saying, “You may be surprised at how much you have in common. Build on that foundation instead of casting stones….”

We, as students, cannot be held accountable for the actions of other students who can be potentially dangerous and violent. We cannot blame the Stoneman Douglas victims and survivors for the murders of their peers because more of his fellow students didn’t love him. This is a terrible misunderstanding of how mental health problems can be treated.

We go to school to learn, we do not go to school to comfort and heal our mentally ill peers.

It is however, the responsibility of the administration and guidance department to seek out students who have demonstrated aggressive, unpredictable or violent behaviors. They are the ones who can get them the help that they need, it shouldn’t be the student’s responsibilities.

Although no one can argue with the power of kindness, but the “walk up” movement should be going hand in hand with activism, instead of being against it. Why can’t students walk up and walk out? We shouldn’t be pitting these two powerful movements against each other. Students walking out of the very buildings where they’re used as targets is necessary and perfect.

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Walk up AND walk out