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The Reflection

School walkouts: A motion for change or a futile distraction?

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Walking out is a catalyst for change

Walkouts. They’re controversial, they’re scrutinized to the utmost degree, but mostly, they’re effective. As contentious an issue as walkouts are, they’re not a new one; walking out is an instrument of change that transcends temporal boundaries and finds its way into countless history books (and for good reason). Walking out provides a voice to those who would otherwise not be listened to, and it creates a sense of unity—in the words of Aesop, “United we stand, divided we fall.”

Throughout history, groups of oppressed people have congregated to walk for what they believe is right. These people—who have been old and young, black, white and everything in between—walked out because times were desperate and other attempts to get attention failed. In the 1903 March of the Mill Children, more than 200 child laborers marched from Philadelphia to New York to protest the appalling working conditions in the textile mills of Philadelphia. Sixty years later, thousands of young people marched again in the Children’s Crusade to end segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. Yet again in 1968, more than 10,000 students walked out of school during the East LA Walkouts to protest the mistreatment of Mexican American students.

Why, then, should today’s despondent youth not be granted that same privilege? The right and privilege to express ideas freely is a cornerstone of American ideology. Civil disobedience and peaceful protests are what defines the annals of America and give the destitute hope for the future. Why, then, should the survivors of the Parkland school shooting not be able to call on children across the nation to stand up to support them in promoting gun safety? According to EveryTown, there have been more than 300 school shootings in America since 2013—an average of about one a week. Some might contend that the best way to deal with such tragedies is to pray for the victims, I believe that the best way to commemorate the victims is to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

Although the support of gun safety played a significant role in the walkouts, they were not organized for the sole message of any political organization. School walkouts are a platform for students to speak up about issues that pertain to them. Some argue that the recent deaths of innocent children, in addition to the yearly average of 40,105 gun violence victims according to the Gun Violence Archive, are not worth going through the hassle of policy-making about gun control. This apathy lends to the U.S. making up 5 percent of the world’s population but holding 31 percent of mass shooters according to CNN.

The primary purpose of the law is to protect those under it, and, as if it’s not evident from the mass shootings that America experiences unlike any other developed country, the law is not fulfilling this objective. That is why we walked out, to rouse policymakers and create a motion for change.

by Sophia Christensen


Are student walkouts really the solution?

April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School. On this tragic day 15 people were killed and at least 24 were hurt. According to Campus Safety since that day, over 122 people have died in school shootings across America. In 2018 alone there have been 20 shootings, which averages out to about 2 shootings where someone was killed a week.

Many students have tested their First Amendment by saying they don’t lose their right of speech in school, but there are limits to what you can and can’t say. As long as what one does isn’t disruptive or disrespectful, you have a free right. But isn’t that a matter of opinion? If two students opinions clash, the name calling really begins. I have first hand experience and trust me it’s not pretty, especially in high school. Most students are just trying to conform to the “norm” a different opinion can lead to a huge argument, possibly to a point of a verbal attack.

Many students participating in the walkouts aren’t even voicing their own opinion. Often it’s that of their parents or guardian. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the rational part of the brain isn’t fully developed until 25. Unless someone got held back a few years, most participating in the student walkouts are under 18, not even close to being fully developed. Kids minds are easily swayed. When someone presents something to someone and makes it seem like their idea, they go with it. That’s easy to support what their parents want them to support.

Students idea of a solution, single out the people who believe something different and hope they eventually switch to the other side. How messed up, making a student feel left out, one of the worst feelings for a teen, and making it so they finally step down from their ground. Students all of a sudden feel the need to protest the guns rather than the people doing the shooting. The people they probably made fun of before, heard a rumor about and spread it, let them sit alone at lunch, let them have tears in their eyes in the back of class. These students are fighting against the problem after the damage is done and saying “never again.” But when they go back to school it’s the same old habits. I’ll be honest, I’ve been guilty of this. My guess is you are the same way.

There are three types of students when it comes to the walkouts: students who don’t participate because they find it disruptive or don’t agree, the slim amount of students who go because they care about the cause, and the majority who go to get out of class and see their friends. The sad truth is, I know barely any students who want to be in the walkouts because they care about it, that isn’t just Gull Lakes statistic. Teens at Pennfield, Comstock and Galesburg-Augusta schools all are the same to our majority, wanting to get out of class at any means possible.

The solution really is what students are walking out for, but in no way is that the ideal solution. When it comes down to it Democrats and Republicans can both agree, bullying is a big source of the problem and that’s what we need to solve. According to Stopbullying.gov, 70.6 percent of students say they have seen bullying in their schools and 70.4 percent of teachers have witnessed bullying. It is shown that when a bystander intervenes, the bullying stops within 10 seconds 57 percent of the time. The solution is as simple as everyone being kind to each other and watching out for one another, not as complicated as you thought. Stand up for the little guy, you never know what your teasing could change into or what they have to go through whenever you say that joke or call him that name.


Caidyn Hutchinson

Sophia Christensen

I'm a senior at Gull Lake High School and this is my first year on The Reflection staff, so I guess you could call me a newspaper newbie. I joined the newspaper sort of on a whim because I wanted to put the skills I learned in Multimedia and Reporting to work, but I'm here to stay and enjoy the ride. I like to write feature articles because I love the facet of newspaper that is giving people an outlet to speak their minds.


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