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What Is the Walk Up Not Out Movement?

A Teacher Told Her Students to "Walk UP, Not Out" — and Here's Why It's a Big Issue

On March 14, thousands of students across the US walked out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. local time to peacefully protest against gun violence for 17 minutes — one minute for each victim of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. In Jodie Katsetos's sixth grade classes, however, students were encouraged to "walk UP, not out."

"National School Walk Out UP," read Katsetos's whiteboard, of which she posted a photo to Facebook (the post has since been removed). "What can YOU do? Walk up to the kid who sits alone and ask him to join your group. Walk up to the kid who never has a voluntary partner and offer to be hers. Walk up to your teachers and thank them. Walk up to someone and just be nice."

The photo has been shared nearly a million times since it was posted on the night of March 13, with its supporters boasting that this type of positivity is what schools really need to help end gun violence.

But that mentality is so, so flawed.

The nonviolent walkout gave students too young to vote the chance to make a political statement by literally and metaphorically raising their voices to rally for stricter gun laws in order to end the systemic gun violence that has taken the lives of thousands of kids just like them. By motivating them against the walkout and instead asking them to simply be kinder to their fellow students, Katsetos encouraged her students to forfeit an opportunity to show the federal government that, like the shooting survivors in Parkland, they're going to fight for change even though they're too young to hit the polls.

Although we should all actively encourage our children to abide by the "golden rule," this movement insinuates that school shootings are the victims' faults for not being nicer.

What's more, this teacher just put on all of her students that if they could just be a bit nicer and more inclusive, those actions alone could help to end gun violence. But being kind doesn't make the gun laws change themselves, it doesn't make the guns circulating around the nation disappear, and it doesn't cure another child's potential mental illness. Although being kind should be a given, and we should all actively encourage our children to abide by the "golden rule," Katsetos's movement insinuates that school shootings are the victims' faults for not being nicer to a student with potential mental health issues who may make them feel uncomfortable or could already be violent in similar ways Nikolas Cruz was reported to be.

All Katsetos is accomplishing with this movement is, like Trump, avoiding the true issue at hand by deflecting and turning people's attention to something else — and she's gotten nearly a million people to buy into it. The question on Katsetos's whiteboard, "What can YOU do?" shouldn't be aimed at her innocent students, asking them to fix huge problems that are nowhere near a result of anything they've done, but at the federal government.

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