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To the adults that spent their seventeen minutes commenting on WJON’s Facebook page,

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To the adults that spent their seventeen minutes commenting on WJON’s Facebook page,

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An open letter to the adults who spent their seventeen minutes commenting on WJON’s Facebook page,

Some of my personal favorites:

“Pathetic…”

“Get these sheep some tide pods.”

“Walkout… now get a job.”

“When is the planned walkout to end bullying!”

“Wouldn’t have been allowed when I was there. Societal norms have changed….. for the worse. Go back to class, respect your teachers and classmates. Problem solved! Guns aren’t the problem, disrespectful punk kids and lack of parenting are!”

“I would make them all write a 5 page paper on what exactly they are walking out on. I would be willing to guess 99% of them walked out just so they could get out of class.”

“They are accomplishing absolutely nothing. If bullying would stop 90% of all school shootings would stop. So how about you think about that snowflakes.”

Let’s preface by saying that we students’ constitutional rights are not stripped at the door when we walk into the school building. We do not stuff our free speech and assembly in our lockers on the way to first block. We cannot be touched. We cannot be forcibly detained while we are peaceful. There are possessions we cannot bring to school, a gun for instance, but our rights remain our rights. Unalienable. To me, it seems self-evident– so please, leave our teachers alone. We have been punished to the extent of what is justifiable by any reasonable school’s standards.

Our teachers could not stop us; it simply would not have been legal. We could not be locked in school; it would not have been ethical. We were punished the same way we would have been punished for sleeping in and missing our first block which is entirely more extreme than deserved. We left, silently for seventeen silent minutes and returned silently to our seats. Frankly, I’ve seen students take longer, more disruptive “bathroom” breaks without repercussions, so you can all go ahead and hop off your melodramatic soapboxes.

No one really cares that we missed seventeen minutes of class. You care that we had opinions that were different than yours, and for seventeen minutes we were not afraid of who knew it. Be as mad as you want that we care, but do not make your anger something it is not.

So many “adults” keep spewing this idea of bullying.  When is the walkout to end bullying? YES. Bullying is a problem, I agree. Let’s end bullying together: parents and children, moms and dads, aunts and uncles, grandpas and grandmas. Do you honestly believe it is all on us? Do you really believe that we can go to school and spread nothing but kindness, while our hearts are full of dread because last night “Alice” spent her night listening to her dad call her a sensitive snowflake?

Bullying starts at home. Every. Single. Time. Maybe Joe is mean to Tiffany because Sheldon is mean to Joe, but what if Sheldon is mean to Joe because Sheldon’s parents never taught him any better. Because Sheldon’s parents never realized that “boys will be boys” is never a good excuse. Because Sheldon’s parents are mean to Sheldon and make him feel like he isn’t worth anything. Cruelty, bitterness, it is taught. No one is born hating anyone else. You teach us that. Our parents teach us that.

And yes, everything would be wonderful if we could just rally up every person in the world and together decide that no one will ever be mean to one another ever again. What a totally feasible idea! I can’t see the flaw– Oh wait, I can.

Here’s a reality check for all of the “grown-ups” trying to give us one: WE PREACH KINDNESS ON A DAILY BASIS AND SURPRISE, SURPRISE NOTHING CHANGES. We have months dedicated to bullying awareness and prevention. It’s admirable to strive towards complete kindness and understanding, but it ends there. It ends with admirable. You cannot dictate decency. You will never be able to make someone do the right thing and be the bigger person.

Bullying is such a huge spectrum that frankly, some bullies don’t even know they’re bullies. Often, the people we believe are our friends are the biggest bullies of all. But do we know that? Not always. We cannot stop bullying. We will never stop it entirely, and the road to improvement is long and unclear. We, students, cannot end bullying for the simple reason that a lot of it is at home, and the perpetrators are parents:  parents that harass their children for getting a B+ instead of an A, parents that negate the opinions of their children rather than hear them, parents that treat their children as subordinate robots instead of human beings with feelings and opinions and valid educations.

And none of that is to say that we should not keep trying. We should always keep trying. We should walk up to the kids that are lonely and ostracized and do our best to make them feel welcome and loved and a part of things, but that is not a realistic solution. If it was, we would have figured this mess out a long time ago.

But we need more change than prayers and “I’m sorrys” and friendship. There is nothing concrete and measurable about any of that. We need legal, definitive action. We need to care enough to do something, not just talk about doing something.

We walked out because we care, which is frankly more than many of you seem to be able to say. I earned my first unexcused absence of my entire school career when I walked out. Many of us sacrificed our integrity in the eyes of our parents and teachers and friends on the grounds of what we believe in. What about that strikes you as pathetic? When was the last time you cared enough about something that you took action knowing some people might think less of you for it?

There were certainly kids out there that didn’t care, kids that didn’t know what they were protesting and didn’t have the sense to ask. But I will say this, outside my high school that I respect and appreciate and learn in every day, there was undeniable comradery and perfect, honorable silence.

So go on, keep insisting we don’t know what we’re doing, that we don’t understand the gravity of our decisions and opinions. As for myself and the retinue of other demonstrators that spend our time educating ourselves, looking at both sides of the story, and listening, really listening, even when the things being said to us are cruel and unjustified, we will go on as well.

We are not different. We’re just a group of students, on the cusp of voting age wishing and waiting and practicing our constitutional rights.

Want to change the way the world thinks? Wonderful. Why don’t you start by not just watching quietly while grown men and women teach kids that bullying never really ends? That the catty, conniving, ignorant foolishness we all hope teenagers grow out of eventually, actually never ends. Reprimand behaviors that need to be reprimanded, like adults who mock teenagers by calling them snowflakes and telling them to eat Tide Pods. Why not reprimand the uninformed populace that criticizes, ridicules, and slanders an entire school board, and its faculty because they are not smart enough to hear the whole story before they go off on whatever tangent they decide to spew?

You want us to stop pushing each other around? Why don’t you lead by example? But please. Don’t sit idly by pretending our bad attitudes are the only things at fault here.

To the adults who spent their seventeen minutes commenting on WJON’s Facebook page, stop pretending that our voices do not matter, soon we will prove to you that they do.

 

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About the Writer
Lidiah Zipp, Journalist

Grade: 12

Go-to Article of Clothing: Turtleneck

Living Room Decoration Must Haves: Ceramic Cat

Quote to Live By: "I'm sorry, if you were right,...

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To the adults that spent their seventeen minutes commenting on WJON’s Facebook page,