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Advocating for Activism

Mary Kate Howell, Guest Reporter

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Editorial

The atmosphere in America is a bit different following the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida than previous shootings of its kind. It wasn’t long after 17 students lost their lives in the terrifying events that teenagers in America had the urge to do something about these occurrences we’ve come to know all too well.

Over the past few weeks, a large group of Parkland survivors have inspired the nation’s youth to partake in the activism against gun violence. So far, there have been numerous school walkouts and marches planned nationwide, the biggest dates being March 14 and April 20. An estimated 200,000 students are expected to participate in the walkout on March 14, according to Fox News.

Not only should these student protests be allowed by schools, but they should be encouraged. These walkouts and marches contribute to us making a difference and having our voices heard; we’re not going to see change if we don’t take a stand.

America desperately needs its youth to step up. It’s become apparent that current high school students are the country’s best bet for impicating gun safety laws and other precautionary measures that are currently not in place.

Teenagers across the country are infuriated; America has more of these mass shootings than any other first world country in the world, yet the fight to end them has been nowhere near as productive as it should be.The upcoming school walkouts and marches are quite possibly the most significant efforts by the American public taken against mass shootings.

The youth population of America is currently 41,731,233 million, according to Act For Youth. We make up an extremely large portion of the nation, so it’s not hard for our voices to be heard. 94 percent of teens use social media, according to the Office of Adolescent Health. This platform has proved to be very advantageous when it comes to spreading the word about upcoming marches and protests.

A large chunk of high school students were around the ages of 10-12 when the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place, according to CNN.This would be an age when we’re fully aware of what’s going on- we’re targets. Previous generations have not experienced the school shooting epidemic such as we have. They don’t know what it’s like to sit in fear during math class.

Over the course of a few weeks, survivors of the Parkland shooting have made a bigger leap towards change than any of America’s lawmakers and representatives. These students have already spoken face-to-face with not only Florida senators and representatives, but the spokeswoman of the NRA at a CNN town hall. Dick’s Sporting Good’s no longer sells assualt/miliatry style weapons, while both Dick’s and Wal-Mart stores have raised the age of purchasing a firearm to 21, according to The New York Times.

Many current high school students will be able to vote in the 2020 election, which is only another reason for politicians to make efforts towards mass shooting prevention before they’re voted out of office. Millennials outvoted Baby Boomers in the 2016 election; we accounted for 69.6 million votes out of 137.5 million total, according to Pew Research Center.

Schools promoting walkouts, marches, and protests would allow for the execution of our First Amendment right. School administration should always advocate for this, seeing as it only contributes to the freedoms granted in this country. It’s undeniable that that these peaceful protests demonstrate the very principles that America was founded on and have been historically imperative towards making a change.

Quite possibly one of the greatest benefits arising from this activism is the unity. We’re seeing young people coming together and tirelessly working towards a goal. The dedication that these students are displaying is truly enlightening and something that the nation has not seen in a while. It helps to develop a sense of purpose amongst teens, something that should be admired by school administration, not criticized.

Challengers of the upcoming walkouts and marches have maintained that it would be a disruption to the learning environment. They also claim that the truency the students would be committing is an attack towards school itself.

The purpose of a protest is to be recognized and draw as much attention as possible; they aren’t meant to be convenient. The purpose of the walkouts is to protest the fact that students don’t feel safe while receiving an education, not the idea of school itself.

Schools around the nation should be admiring the efforts of its students and promoting the idea of activism. Adolescent brains are capable of greater abstract thinking than any other point in a lifetime, so these ideas should not be repressed. America’s students are devastated yet fed up, and we’re not going to stop until something is done.

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Advocating for Activism