On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, my fourteen year old kid and the kid’s best friend led a Walk Out from their school at 10:00am to say that they’ve had Enough.
They organized this entirely on their own. They printed posters and flyers. They shared and mobilized their friends to join them. They talked with a teacher they knew they could trust and sought her guidance.
But they didn’t really ask their parents. The night that my kid approached me, about a week prior, all I was asked to do was to print some of their posters and flyers. When I asked if I needed to come to school to go through the check out process, the kid said, “Nope. We’ve got people for that” without really explaining what that meant, but telling me clearly that they had it covered, and they wanted to do this themselves.
Let me say that again: they wanted to do this themselves
These kids are not pawns. They are not doing the bidding of George Soros, the anti-gun lobby (as if such a thing existed), or the media. They are not doing this at the behest of their crazy, radical, snowflake parents.
They are doing this for one reason and one reason alone: #Enough.
They’ve had enough of their classes being interrupted by Live Shooter Drills at school.
They’ve had enough with our jadedness that no matter how many kids die or are impacted by school shootings, and according the Washington Post that number sits at 187,000 since Columbine in 1999, we adults claim nothing can ever be done to address this.
They’ve had enough of our refusal to say with one voice, your extremist “gun rights above all” does not outweigh our right to life.
They’ve had enough of our silence, and they will not be silent any more.
I’ve never been more proud of my kid and of all these kids than I was that Wednesday morning.
That was until this morning when my kid got up on the first day of Spring Break to go to Birmingham to March For Our Lives.
Our children are screaming for their lives.
Only fools would ignore or dismiss their voices.
The future is far brighter than it has ever been because of these amazing, organized, brave, and loving kids.
Here are their words from the WalkOut on March 14, 2018 at 10:00am.
On February 14, 2018, a gunman went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and opened fire. He killed 17 people and injured 14 others. Many students took it into their own hands to make sure that a school shooting like that one never happens again, we are some of those students. Many of these students were not much older than ourselves, some of them were our age. We are here today to remember the lives who were lost on that day.
Alyssa Alhadeff, 14 years old
She was an excellent soccer player, and was well-loved by her community. She went to a Jewish sleepaway camp called Camp Coleman. The camp has expressed its sadness at her loss.
Scott Beigel, 35
He was a geography teacher. He was also a counselor at Camp Starlight. He died while bringing students to safety, and his loss prevented that of several others.
Martin Duque Anguiano, 14
According to his brother, he was funny and outgoing. His brother has set up a GoFundMe page to cover funeral expenses.
NIcholas Dworet, 17
He was a senior that was prepared to go to the University of Indianapolis in the fall. He would have joined the swim team there as well.
Aaron Feis, 37
He was an assistant football coach at the school, who died after guarding several students from being shot. One student said that he would make sure everyone is safe before himself.
Jaime Guttenburg, 14
Jaime was a dancer and her father has been very outspoken since her death, he even created an organization called “Orange Ribbons for Jaime”.
Chris Hixon, 49
He was the school’s athletic director, his wife described him as an awesome husband, father, and American.
Luke Hoyer, 15
He loved basket ball and idolized Lebron James. His family said that he was always happy and how his smile was contagious.
Cara Loughran, 14
She danced at the Drake School of Irish Dance in South Florida and was described as always having a smile on her face.
Gina Montalto, 14
She was a member of the school’s winter color guard and an artist, she was said by her aunt to be designing new clothing trends all the time.
Joaquin Oliver, 17
Joaquin was born in Venezuela and moved the U.S. at 3 years old. He became a naturalized citizen last January. His final social media post was to his girlfriend, in the post he thanked God for what he called a “blessing”.
Alaina Petty, 14
She was a member of her school’s JROTC, and had volunteered to help with Hurricane Irma recovery in September. Her family said that she loved to serve.
Meadow Pollack, 18
She was a senior and had been accepted into Lynn University in Boca Raton. Her best friend, Gil Lovito said in a Facebook post “You are and forever will be loved.”
Helena Ramsay, 17
She died protecting her friend, she held up a book to protect herself while her friend hid behind a bookshelf. Her family described her as kind-hearted and witty.
Alex Schacter, 14
He was a member of the school’s marching band in orchestra, he marched baritone and played trombone in orchestra. His family set up a GoFundMe page so that the band can be funded in his memory.
Carmen Schentrup, 16
She was a National Merit scholarship semifinalist. Her friend said she loved Marvel movies and Shakespeare.
Peter Wang, 15
Peter was a member of the school’s JROTC, he had also taken culinary classes at the school. He had been holding a door open for other students when he was shot, and many people petitioned for the White House to let him be buried with full military honors.
Courtlin Arrington, 17
Courtlin was not a victim of the Parkland shooting, but one of an accidental shooting at Huffman High School in Birmingham. The medical detectors at her school were not in use that day for no known reason, and her killer was able to get the gun in, and accidentally discharge a bullet. She had been accepted into nursing school.
These people died because of a senseless act of violence, the eighteenth school shooting in this year alone. Something needs to change. We need action. There have been many suggestions from many different sources, but here are some ideas. Some people believe we need stronger gun laws to make it more difficult for dangerous or underaged people to buy a gun. Some believe that we need to have better mental health care and do background checks before the purchase of a gun. Many believe that we need to be more inclusive of other people and prevent bullying. Others believe that we need to improve the security of our schools. No matter what method you believe is best, I’m sure we can all agree that change needs to happen.
However, a lot of students feel stuck, like no one will listen to them, or that their actions won’t achieve anything. Here are some things that you as a child can do. Contact your representatives. Whether it’s the governor, one of Alabama’s senators, or even the president, contacting the politician in charge of our area can be very helpful. You could make a phone call, write an email, or send a letter. You could also attend city council meetings, and try to speak to them there.
Another thing you can do is to be very vocal about change. First, educate yourself on the subject. Then, make social media posts, hang up flyers, speak to people – whether those people are your friends or family. You can also provide your presence to already existing events, such as marches, protests, or assemblies. Attending protests and marches only makes the numbers bigger, which can get the point across even better.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to speak up. If you see someone with a gun at school, even if they’re your best friend, make sure you tell someone. Guns are weapons, and certainly aren’t safe in the hands of inexperienced high-schoolers. Make sure that if there is a gun in a school, or if there’s a threat, that a staff member knows about it.
Sometimes I think our generation has collectively failed our children in our nation’s schools, justice and health care systems, and through our culture of accumulation of junk and wastefulness. But some have slipped through — not through our safety nets — because we have none — but through the walls those in power have built.
This is the generation that has always had to take off their shoes every single time they have boarded a plane because once upon a time one bad guy had some bad stuff hidden in his. They see stupidity and they call it out.
What I saw on stage in Washington were traumatized kids owning their story, and around the country, others who could say me too (there is the whole other set who have known kids who have blown their brains out; happened to a colleague of mine, before I had kids:worst viewing ever), and others who can’t quite believe that active shooter drills are a reality but who have enough imagination or empathy to feel ashamed and sickened. “Active shooter” is an interesting phrase, isn’t it? Everyone with a gun is a shooter; active or inactive. And guns don’t appear in Act I if they aren’t going to be used later in the play, do they?
“They’re quite aware of what they are going through.”
“Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming.”
“Carry the news, all the young dudes.”
I truly have mixed emotions regarding the children’s protests. As I am sure some of the kids are mature enough to understand and vent their feelings, there is also that “mob mentality” that exists whereby many of the kids just join in because it’s something cool to do. One of the biggest issues in our country is education, or lack thereof. Snowflake teachers and administrators look the other way when kids decide they are walking out. Really? What happened to protests on weekends? Oh wait, that would cut into their video game time. I am not downplaying the horror of what has happened in our schools lately, but I will not sit and applaud a political movement by children who are jumping head first into a very complex issue. We have a very severe cultural problem in this country. Too much hatred, too much distraction, too much, me, me, me. Our government is dysfunctional, our law enforcement agencies are poorly run, and families are characterized by parents who are often too busy doing whatever to raising their kids right. You’ve got a murder rate in Chicago that is out the roof, but no one seems to want to protest that. How about all the Opioid deaths? I don’t see many people protesting the pharmaceutical companies. Kids really want to make a difference? Give up Facebook. Say no to violent, graphic video games. Pledge not to touch your cell phone when you drive. Trust me, THAT will make a real difference.
Thanks for sharing your views.
If you don’t want to jump head first into a protest, don’t. No one is saying you have to.
However, if you think that these kids aren’t serious and don’t understand these complex issues, you’re not talking to them enough.
Your dismissal of their protests because it will “cut into their video game time” is both insulting and inaccurate. The March For Our Lives took place on a Saturday. For my child, it was the first day of spring break.
If you want to protest the litany of things you’ve listed at the end of your comment, please do so. You’ll have my full support to protest anything you wish, including what others protest.
More people should be angry about much of what is happening in our nation right now, so feel free to lead the charge.
But don’t insult what you don’t know or understand. That simply shows that you’re less informed than the kids you’re criticizing for being “uninformed.”
Finally, I’m glad you have mixed emotions about this. The most horrifying thing about most of the school shootings is how little emotion they’ve elicited from adults. So if these protests have brought about emotions from you and others, then by god they are a huge success.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate them and your willingness to speak out. Please keep doing so.
I respect your views and your admiration for what your child did. My son also became involved with his school in addressing this issue. With regard to “the March,” it has now been reported that only 10% of the marchers were teenagers. Not to say their voice didn’t matter, but to emphasize how politically driven this march was and not something conjured up by the kids. My frustration lies not with the efforts of the children, but by the obscene politicizing by adults with an agenda. The gun issue in America is more complex than I think these kids realize, or for that matter, more than most adults realize. As a parent it’s my biggest fear to think my kids aren’t safe in school. But let’s be real, banning guns is simply not the answer. We all know that the bad people in this world will get the guns they need. Or, they will find other means to inflict harm. Like I said earlier, I think cell phones and Facebook have caused far more harm to our kids and society than guns do. Who are these young people committing these atrocities? What has their family upbringing been like? Are we over-medicating kids starting at an earlier age, thereby altering the brain’s chemistry to a point that they are walking time bombs later on in life? Where has our moral compass gone? These are the sorts of issues that need to be addressed. A gun is nothing more than a tool. Too many guns in this country? Yes. Not saying that’s right, but that’s America. I have no problem imposing laws for stricter background checks, and perhaps upping the age to purchase a gun. Again, not sure that would matter much to the criminal mind. The real challenge is to explore and understand why people commit these atrocities, and not what they use to do it.
No one is calling for a complete ban on guns. No one.
I’m glad you agree that upping the age limit and improving background checks is at least worth talking about. That’s a start and a huge improvement over the complete refusal to do anything in the past other than make it easier to for people to get their guns.
Concerning the percentage of kids who attended the walks Saturday, I find your percentage to be questionable. But even if it’s accurate, why does that lead you to the conclusion that it’s “obscenely politicized”? Seems you’re jumping to conclusions here.
Finally, why is it that the only “tool” that cannot be questioned is the gun? The kids are looking at motives. But do we look at “motives” behind the opioid problem? Or do we just limit access?
Do we question motives behind meth? Or do we just make it impossible to get pseudoephedrine?
Do we question the motives of people who drive drunk, or do we just outlaw it?
Yes, understanding why people commit atrocities is important. But understanding our own motivations for why we do something is nearly impossible somedays.
Why can’t we also consider limiting access to guns while we figure out the motive?
Every single Constitutionally protected right is limited. Every one. Can we at least TALK about doing this with guns?
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