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2018-03-15 18:48:21.225696+00 by Dan Lyke 5 comments

Copied over from Facebook for posterity.

I've seen a number of the "walk up, not out" hashtag things referenced, and I'd like to take a little trip down memory lane.

In grade school, through high school, I was kind of a runt. Picked on and bullied a lot. Those of us who were outcast-ish tended to stick together, so, yes, I knew the people in high school who had Ruger 223s, and who'd done the appropriate hand-filing to make them fully automatic. I didn't go shooting with them because I had a sense of gun safety and I heard too many tales of accidental discharges to think that was a good idea, but come the Columbine shootings I thought "oh, yeah, those are my peeps and I know exactly which of my high school friends would have most likely been them".

Later in high school I discovered the print shop, which gave me some friends who were ... not of my socioeconomic class, and who were also more of the in crowd.

I forget why there was some protracted time out in front of the high school one day, but I was standing out there, and someone decided to threaten me with a knife. Two friends from print shop decided to casually put themselves in between the guy with the knife and me.

Someone else had seen the uncomfortable dynamic in the crowd and alerted an adult, and the school psychologist came over, completely misreading the situation, grabbed my two friends and threw them up against the wall.

You see, the problem wasn't the kids. The problem was that the bullies were working within the framework that the adults had set up and were maintaining. The bullies were just emulating the behavior they saw from the adult world around them.

There was a bright spot: At some point in my high school years we got a hip young principal in. I was skeptical, but it turned out he was somewhat for real...

Some months later, I had ridden my bicycle to school, came out to find that someone had completely kicked in my wheels. Just destroyed them. So I was out there trying to figure out what I was going to do, and he came by, and we exchanged a few words. In those words it became clear that we both knew exactly who the ringleader of the group that had destroyed my wheels was, that we didn't have any proof of who actually did the damage, and as we parted he asked me to, if I came up with such proof, tell him first rather than seeking revenge myself.

It was too late in my high school experience to make much of a difference, but all of a sudden there was an adult at the school who understood that there was violence boiling just under the surface at this high school in a relatively upscale area of suburban Connecticut, and who was an ally.

The school was Newtown High School. Newtown later became famous for ... well ... violence in schools.

I don't care what your stance on gun control or semi-automatic rifles with pseudo- mililtary stylings or whatever is, but please don't preach "walk up, not out" to kids: It's the adults who need to change to stop the bullying.

Blaming the victims of the system that the adults have created isn't gonna solve the problem.

[ related topics: Children and growing up Interactive Drama Consumerism and advertising Work, productivity and environment Travel Guns Pedal Power Bicycling Woodworking ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: walk made: 2018-03-15 20:09:47.03066+00 by: brennen


#Comment Re: walk made: 2018-03-16 17:11:39.001813+00 by: Larry Burton

I read this here and Facebook and have been debating where to answer. Because of the fact that I've caused some extreme political confrontations from from commenting on the weather I decided to comment on this here.

Why not both? I mean, I love the fact that young people are getting involved in this conversation, even when I disagree with their opinions and solutions but just pointing out that we are creating some monsters by our actions toward them before they became monsters is not blaming the victim. What's wrong with encouraging our children to embrace those who are a little different from the rest? Isn't this #walkupnotout hashtag the type of solution the "hip, young principle" would have encouraged? We just need to encourage the #WalkUp part of the equation before there is a need to #WalkOut.

#Comment Re: walk made: 2018-03-16 21:27:30.221667+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think that if it were a genuine attempt at crossing those bounds, it wouldn't be phrased as the "...not out" counter. Start something independent that's just "walk up", I'm down for it. Happy to have the conversation about both things, but as you say, let's not make it mutually exclusive.

But... here's the post that started the "walk up" thing. And... it's hard to even start pointing out all of the places where that author misses how bullying actually happens.

#Comment Re: walk made: 2018-03-18 05:11:58.229277+00 by: concept14

Thank you.

#Comment Re: walk made: 2018-03-18 20:05:47.180432+00 by: Dan Lyke

This showed up as an author elided image of block of text on a Facebook post, I've transcribed it. I think it catches my disgust with the "walk up" thing pretty well:

Let me tell you a little story about how "walk-up" felt as a kid.

I was a kid who was mercillessly bullied. After the Columbine shootings, things got much worse for me. 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.

To make matters worse, student leaders were encouraged to "walk-up" to us. This lead to a lot of disingenuous conversations and check-ins that left most of us even more embarassed and genuinely angry. One of my walk-ups involved fellow students saying to me "hey man, if you shoot up the school, you're not gonna kill me, right? Like I never really picked on you that bad, right?" I shit you not, I had 3 otherconversations like that and it lead to even more bullying and harassment.

Eventually, it got so bad, I went to the guidance counselor and said "if you really believe I'm a danger to the school, do you think you're making me feel any less angry and singled out by treating me like school shooter in waiting?" It eventually took my mom coming to the school and speaking with the principal for it to stop.

It was bad for me then and I believe it's bad for kids now. It shouldn't take a hashtag or a tragedy to be a decent person to other people and insunuiating that the bullied kids are all school shooters waiting to happen is gross and hurtful.

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