In the wake of the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, debate on gun control and other methods of protection for students have risen from whispers around isolated events to a deafening roar amidst what seems to be a consistent stream of violent attacks in public schools.
As with most arguments, there are at least two sides. Two weeks ago, protesters began walking out of classes across the United States; students, teachers and faculty alike walked out to protest the horrendous acts of violence, which have led to mostly talk and no solutions to what is becoming a growing problem in our country.
As students began to feel that their voice was being heard and that protests may somehow turn the tables in Congress for creating solutions, a counter-protest called “Walk Up, Not Out” became viral, calling on students to change the outcomes of violent acts in schools by simply being nice to bullied or out-of-place children in the classroom.
The ultimate problem with this solution is that it blames the victims of the school shootings as if there is anything they could possibly have done to someone to deserve getting shot.
According to 2014 statistical research on schoolshooters.info by Peter Langman, a psychologist and expert on school shooters’ behavior, there is little connection between bullying and school shootings.
“Certainly, harassment may contribute to perpetrators’ rage and/or depression,” Langman said. “At most, however, it is but one factor among many that cause rampage attacks.”
Langman cited school shooters such as Gary Pennington and Asa Coon, neither of whom targeted kids who had picked on them, but both of whom targeted teachers who gave them low grades.
“This indicates the complexity in sorting out the possible impact of peer harassment on the perpetrators’ motivations,” Langman said.
Another fault with the “Walk Up” movement is the embarrassment and potential worsening of bullying in schools.
Students who feel left out will doubtfully feel more accepted when fellow students pretend to like them to prevent a potential violent outburst from them.
An anonymous Facebook user’s post has recently gone viral in response to “Walk Up. “
“After the Columbine shootings, things got so much worse for me,” the Facebook post read. “A number of the ‘weird kids’ (myself included) were rounded up and sent to the guidance counselors office to ‘talk about our feelings’ (assess whether we were a threat) and it was humiliating.”
Not only does it victim-blame the children being targeted in school shootings, but “Walk Up” also reinforces the idea that awkward kids are potential criminals and terrorists.
“One of my walk-ups involved a fellow student saying to me, ‘Hey, man, if you shoot up the school, you’re not gonna kill me, right?’” the Facebook user said. “‘Like, I never really picked on you that bad, right?’”
The Facebook user said that insinuating weird kids are going to become school shooters can be as hurtful, if not more so, than the bullying they already face.
Although there is a heartfelt intention behind preventing bullying in schools, there is little reason to connect it to what is so obviously a problem of safety for the United States that needs to be prevented by other methods.