Today, students around the country are participating in a Walkout to memorialize those who were killed in the mass shooting in Florida - 17 minutes outside of school. Another movement is supporting the idea to Walkup to a person who is socially isolated - 14 people on this day I've even seen - to commemorate the date. Still other students are meeting with their school leadership to discuss tangible ways to manage the horrifying increase of school shootings in a myriad of ways.
I believe strongly in the right to assembly and make a stand. Look no further than the march on Selma and other such assemblages to drive home a point. A peaceful gathering with purpose is important.
I believe that working to avoid isolating students to help improve mental health is important. Social isolation is listed as the Number One cause of depression in people of any age, and it's part of the answer in gaining control over the resentment and anger experienced by so many of the violent school shooting offenders.
And I believe that intelligent discussion between young people and their school administration can have far-reaching impacts.
Howwever, there is NO ONE solution to the issue of gun violence in schools and those who become bent on destructive behavior. It's for certain going to take a village, and many measures that will work to ensure safety, morality and mental health, as best as we can.
I do want to make a point though, that as our young people engage in whatever activity they feel is necessary to make positive change that they are doing so in a thoughtful, informed manner.
The 17 Minute Walkout - I am not sure why this must occur during school time, but perhaps it's because organizers feel it's an effective way to engage a lot of kids who will be in one place at one time. Typically, these activities can be disruptive and are often done during, say, worktime by those picketing to purposely cause disruption to an institution that is, say, not meeting worker's needs. However, as far as I know, our local school is in no way inhibiting on student's rights, and so I feel concerned about students leaving the school during class time - are we trying to "teach our schools a lesson?" Is this appropriate?
Memorializing those who died is very, very important. Bringing awareness to the issue of gun violence is very, very important. Trying to find solutions is very, very important.
Therefore, it is critical to ensure that our young people are doing what is most impactful to provide lasting solutions.
That brings me to the Walk Up movement. Some are saying it's counter to Walk Out and is inline with 2nd Amendment support - and thus, supporting gun rights.
That could be true for some people - but I do see trying to be as friendly as possible to all students a huge step in the right direction. As mentioned, a significant part of the profile of school shooters is the misunderstood loner (although there are many reasons a young person may feel isolated - that is a separate blog post for sure).
That said, serious mental illness will not be solved by being friendly to someone. That will require a different approach to assisting students and professional involvement is key.
However, inclusiveness is a good way to make tangible improvements to the mental state of ALL students.
And if students can take their great, bright ideas to improve the safety of schools, as I'm reading that young people are doing in pockets of the country, I say all the better.
I would like to see all measures taken into consideration and utilized. As a parent, I'll stand behind it and work to make change and assist in what needs to be done.
Let's just make sure, though, that as students Walk Out today that they fully realize what they are doing in why. It's easy to get caught up in the moment. It's easy to walk out of school. It's much tougher to make long-term changes that we hope (and pray) will have meaningful impact to help us prevent the worst in the future.
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Resources for parents and students:
Criss, Doug. “If You're Planning to Take Part in the National School Walkout, Read This.” CNN, Cable News Network, 12 Mar. 2018.
Adams, Dwight."School shootings inspire new movements: National School Walkout and Walk Up Not Out." IndyStar, Part of the USA Today Network, 14 Mar. 2018.
Utzign, Taylor. " Winnebago High School Takes Alternative Approach to Wednesday Walkouts." WREX.com, NBC13, 13 Mar. 2018
Healy, Vikki Ortiz. "Meet Some of the Illinois Students Behind Wednesday's School Walkouts for Gun Reform." Chicago Tribune, 13 Mar. 2018.
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