“Walking Up” Is Nice – But It Won’t Stop School Shootings

In the wake of the student protests against school shootings, a new meme has come up: #WalkUpNotOut. According to ABC News:

Jodie Katsetos, a sixth-grade teacher at Arcadia Middle School in Oak Hall, Virginia, wrote a message on a large poster board in her classroom that read, “Walk Up Not Out.”

The world first found out about her action when she posted a photo of that message on Facebook. Her post went viral, which then led to ABC News paying her a visit.

The “Walk Up” idea arose in response to the national student protests, in which students walked out of class on March 14th and then observed 17 minutes of silence to honor the 17 people killed in the Parkland school shooting. Katsetos told ABC her suggestion was to augment rather than replace the student walkout:

“I am adamant about it staying positive,” she said about the dual messages of the walk out and walk up. “I’m not pushing either. I made those suggestions as alternatives to walking out and just an everyday reminder to include others and be considerate, which is something that I talk about with students each day.”

While Katsetos may not have been pushing either option, some others apparently view the “Walk Up” movement as a way to deflect from calls for stricter gun control. According to an article on Quartz, retired Texas teacher David Blair, who promoted the idea in a February Facebook post, said: “Gun control or more laws is not, and will not, be the answer.”

Quartz also noted that the Walk Up idea has been spread by groups who support the NRA:

The message is also being spread by adult groups with links to gun manufacturers. A post has been featured on the Facebook page of “One Million Moms Against Gun Control,” which has about 75,000 members, has an NRATV set as its main photo, and is affiliated with “Red Legion Tactical,” which sells military-grade weapons and gear, according to the group’s webpage.

Hmmmm…I wonder if that’s why the idea is “WalkUpNotOut.”

Regardless of where this “Walk Up” idea came from, I can go along with the idea of being nice to fellow students. We live in an interconnected and interdependent world, and making an effort to get along with others is generally a good idea.

However, I do have a problem with the idea that simply “walking up” will somehow prevent school shootings. For one thing, it sounds like victim blaming: if somebody shoots up a school, the inference is that the students must have somehow bullied or been unkind to the shooter. This kind of thinking can lead to the outrageous idea that the victims in a sense were responsible for what happened to them. I’m not saying that’s what “Walk Up Not Out” advocates are saying; but that’s a logical implication.

Beyond that, I don’t believe walking up to people will have much effect on school shootings. I base that belief on personal experience.

Many years ago I worked for the New York State Employment Service, which helped match employers with job seekers. It also served as a mandatory resource for able-bodied people collecting unemployment insurance or welfare, who were required to visit on a regular basis.

I remember one client in particular who was on welfare and visited regularly. She was generally well-dressed and appeared intelligent. She also exuded a certain strong emotional intensity. While she was usually cool and remote, on occasion she would erupt in anger, yelling and at least once slamming a chair against the side of a counselor’s desk.

Our dealings with her finally ended when – for reasons unclear – she threw a neighbor’s baby into a creek. Fortunately, others saw this action and the baby was saved. But her time in the welfare system ended with an extended stay in the corrections system.

Whatever inner demons this woman was dealing with, our being nice to her wasn’t going to make much of a difference. Some people just have such inner demons, and there’s little an untrained teacher, student or some other person can do to “fix” them.

Keeping AR15s out of their hands would be a great idea though.


About Dave Higgins

I've been interested in current events since at least the mid 1960's, and in ideas from modern science since the early 1990's. My website Quantum Age, which has been online since 1996, presents a basic framework for applying ideas from modern science to today's world. In this blog I discuss current events in the context of that framework.
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