March 14th was a heavy and proud day for parents, educators, and students across America, as the #enough movement took shape in schools across the country. The impact of 10am was different for so many of us. It brought up feelings of compassion, support, frustration, honor, hate, and indifference. Each one of us had our own experiences. Part of being empathetic is understanding where others are coming from.
I have a personal response to school shootings. I have family members close to me who were in a school shooting, and I have seen the impact on their lives play out, not just that day but in the years following.
I have also worked with an organization that is based on the life of a victim of a school shooting, so I feel personally invested in doing something to see change.
At 10am on March 14th I felt grief, I felt anxious, I felt nauseous and I felt proud. I felt grief for the loss of the ability for my kids to go to school without fear in the back of their minds. I felt anxious for what could happen, and I felt nauseous for the kids who have already been impacted by school violence. I felt proud of the kids who genuinely want to make a difference in our country, who wanted to honor those who have been lost and who want to reach out to those outcast and hurting.
Here are some of the sentiments I heard across my communities:
Some parents eye-rolled at the protest, feeling that kids just wanted to get out of class and do what was trendy.
Some teachers felt pride for the kids planning and initiating the walkout, those who read the 17 names of the victims in Parkland FL, then returned respectfully to class.
Other teachers felt frustrated that some kids left campus and used the time to do what they wanted.
Some parents loved the #walkup (walk up to someone you have never talked to before) and hated the walkout.
Many parents felt students were unaware of what the #enough movement meant.
Most parents left it up to their kids to decide if they wanted to walk out or not. Some educated them, some did not.
Some schools were concerned about the safety of the school and kids, and others were happy to support and organize.
Some schools experienced threats and led kids to not participate in the day.
Many parents posted on Facebook about how proud they were of their child walking out or up.
“Anyone that knows me well enough knows that I do not support strict gun control laws. However, I am proud of and support all the students in our community that held a respectful, sincere walkout yesterday. For the sincere students participating it wasn’t about taking anyone’s guns away or about not wanting to “Walk Up” and be nice to others. It was their way of telling us adults…. a. Hey, I’m scared and concerned about this problem in our world. b. I want to honor those 17 children that lost their lives. That’s it. “- MOM OF A TEEN
Some schools organized different events to control the situation and keep order.
Some parents felt the walkout was “pointless.”
For some of the kids who have been through trauma, the walkout was a trigger and negatively impacted them emotionally.
Parents were confused if it was strictly about gun control and therefore, didn’t want to participate.
Some parents felt that the school day was inappropriate to do a political demonstration.
Some kids, parents, and schools organized an outreach event like writing letters or doing projects.
Some parents didn’t allow their children to participate and gave them their opinion.
Some teachers persuaded the students to walk out.
Some parents saw the walkout strictly a gun control protest, and it didn’t align with their political view, so they didn’t want their kids involved.
Some schools wrote kids up for walking out or had stricter consequences.
Some felt that since these kids aren’t old enough to vote this was their only opportunity to be heard.
Some parents were proud of their kids for not participating because they felt it was following the crowd.
They first circled the field joining hands in unity then gathered around the news cameras to sing their school song. All in their support of safety in schools. It was a very positive and unifying display. The voter registration group was at the exits waiting to get all these students to register. A great time to promote that. Teachers and parents also talked about kindness and #walkupnotout but to physically show their unity for this cause will be something they remember and helps show more support for safety. #walkout
Some kids and parents felt very strongly about focusing on the gun control part of the demonstration and felt the walk-up was doing it a disservice.
One thing I hope unites us is acknowledging that the way things currently are is not okay. Columbine happened 19 years ago, and our kids still have to live in fear, which is not okay. When I kiss my babies goodbye each morning before school, there’s a nagging thought in the back of my mind that it could be the last time because of my experiences. Someone asked on Facebook,
“parents how do you feel about sending your kids to school these days?”
My answer: not good! School is supposed to be a place where they are in an environment that facilitates learning. How do you learn when you are feeling anxious for the headline to be about your school. This is not a political article this is a mom asking other moms to do something. So what are you doing? Me, I speak at schools, promoting kindness and compassion on behalf of a fantastic organization, and I am looking for more ways to make a difference. Let’s continue the conversation. What’s your plan? What’s your one tangible action item in your community to make progress towards safety in our kid’s schools? It starts with us. I want kids in schools in two decades to read about the school shootings and think “wow, what a horrific time and what amazing people that made the change so we can sit here without worry.