Speed Reads

after parkland

Parkland shooting survivor says being 'a little nicer' doesn't prevent gun violence

In an op-ed for The New York Times published Tuesday, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior Isabelle Robinson defended her classmates from those who say last month's mass shooting might not have happened if they had been "a little nicer" to the alleged gunman, former student Nikolas Cruz.

Robinson said her first interaction with Cruz took place in the seventh grade, when he threw an apple at her during lunch. The next year, she was a peer counselor, assigned to help him with his homework. She felt uncomfortable being alone with Cruz, "forced to endure him cursing me out and ogling my chest until the hourlong session ended," she said, and only now does she understand "that I was left, unassisted, with a student who had a known history of rage and brutality."

This month, high schoolers around the country walked out of their classrooms in solidarity with Stoneman Douglas High, but there was a counter-protest called #WalkUpNotOut, which urged students instead to go up to someone who was an outsider and talk to them. This implied that school violence could be prevented if kids "befriend disturbed and potentially dangerous classmates," Robinson said. "The idea that we are to blame, even implicitly, for the murders of our friends and teachers is a slap in the face to all Stoneman Douglas victims and survivors."

Robinson does not want to see isolated teens rejected, but she says it's the responsibility of administrators and counselors to "seek those students and get them the help they need," and "no amount of kindness or compassion alone would have changed the person that Nikolas Cruz was or the horrendous actions he perpetrated. That is a weak excuse for the failures of our school system, our government, and our gun laws." Read the entire powerful op-ed at The New York Times.