“Before we just stand here for 17 minutes and don’t do nothing, because that’s what we’re going to do right now, I just wanted to say, like, we’re out there for a shooting — school shootings — you guys are all at a school, OK?” she said.
As Mansfield told her schoolmates, massacres like the one in Florida last month “are happening from these kids that you guys are cornering out, that you’re bullying, that you’re doing all this stuff to because you think it’s funny.”
She went on to insist that the issue of bullying is very serious and has led to deadly consequences.
“All of these kids just want to be themselves, they want to be who they want to be in their own school,” she said. “They’re here to learn. They’re not here to bully. Kids shouldn’t be shooting up schools; we’re teenagers.”
Instead of further belittling victims of bullying and those dealing with emotional issues, Mansfield challenged her peers to rise above that reaction to demonstrate empathy and friendship to kids who need it most.
“You should say that you love your neighbor,” she said. “You should be there for them, sit with them at lunch, tell them that you’re their friend, that you’re going to be there for them whenever they need you.”
Even if a personal struggle is not immediately obvious, Mansfield said everyone can benefit from such expressions of kindness.
“Just because they’re already dealing with bullying at school enough, and they have their own problems at home whether you know it or not,” she said. “Everybody does and I don’t know why it’s so hard to be nice and care and love each other. Like, it’s not hard.”
The student acknowledged that some walkout participants would laugh at her for sharing her thoughts, but she remained undeterred.
“I don’t care, because somebody said something while we were out here,” she said. “Somebody stood up.”
Though she apologized for appearing mad and speaking “aggressively,” Mansfield did not shy away from her decision to speak out when given the opportunity.
“Most of you are out here because you don’t want to be in class,” she said. “That’s it. Like, it’s stupid.”