In the aftermath of the Valentine’s Day Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School shooting, the wisest, most engaged words and actions have come from adolescent survivors.
In the throes of grief, pain, fear, love, sadness, and shock, they have gathered and coalesced into the #Never Again movement.
I am a mother and grandmother of five grandchildren ranging from 14 to 26 years. The deceased Marjory Stoneham Douglas students and those students who live on could be my grandkids. Their fervor, their outrage that an assault weapon in the hands of a fellow student maimed and killed their coach, two teachers and fourteen classmates, sears my heart.
As a therapist for over 40 years, I sat with survivors of trauma. Those who suffered the worst were frozen with fear and helplessness. Speaking out, advocacy and action are essential steps in healing—for each of these young people, for their parents and friends, for the community at large.
I am grateful to watch, listen to, read, share and support their words.
Cameron Kasky, a junior, said, One of the things we’ve been hearing is that it’s not yet time to talk about gun control, and we respect that. We’ve lost 17 lives, and our community took 17 bullets to the heart. So here’s the time we’re going to talk about gun control: March 24…The March for Our Lives is going to be in every major city, and we are organizing it so students everywhere can beg for their lives. https://marchforourlives.com.
At a rally for gun control at the Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Emma Gonzalez said, We are going to be the students you read about in textbooks…We are going to be the last mass shooting… We are going to change the law…We need to pay attention that this was not just a mental health issue. He (David Kraus) would not have harmed that many students with a knife.
That us kids don’t understand what we’re talking about that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call B.S.
Yahoo News cites Delaney Tarr, a senior and co-organizer of next month’s March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. She admitted that it’s “scary” to think that students have emerged as the country’s leading voices on the issue of gun control… To see us listed as these heroes, as these bastions of change, it’s scary, because we are teenagers… We are children.
Speaking from the heart is what we do best, Delaney said. It is based in passion. And it is based in pain. Our biggest flaws, our tendency to be a bit too aggressive, our tendency to lash out — things that you expect from a normal teenager — these are our strengths.
I could not agree more. Delaney’s words match my experience of the potential well of passion now harnessed in the need to make a difference, to right the wrong of an AR-15 rifle ambush, which enveloped their school less than a week ago.
For those who cast doubt that teenagers can lead the way in changing our nation’s gun laws, I offer this recent post from a friend’s niece.
Anyone who thinks high school students can’t organize on their own has clearly never heard of Barbara Johns. At age 16, she lured the principal away from the school with a fake phone call, sent students to each classroom to announce an assembly, and, once the auditorium was filled, ordered the teachers to leave. She then led a student strike and walked on the mayor’s office with 450 students demanding a better school.
Barbara contacted the ACLU, and when they came to check it out, they told the teens that in order to pursue a lawsuit, they would have to convince their parents to join them. Yep — the kids had to convince the parents. You may have heard of that lawsuit. It was called Brown v. Board of Education.” For details, see https://zinnedproject.org/…/barbara-johns-leads-1951…/
Most interesting to read the teenagers’ words in this essay: the speakers are calling for action, but their language also show reflectiveness, and practicality. I like how the writer’s choice of these particular quotes emphasizes these two qualities—not the most usual ones in teens, but called out by the horror of their experience.
Rosemary, I’m grateful for your well-observed comment. These teens ability to remain reflective while asserting their outrage respectfully and pragmatically is inspiring. Hopefully, with support from community , they will continue and gain momentum.
I like your passion and quotes. There are other examples in history in which children lead adults to do good. I hope this turns out to be another. No matter what happens the
the whole effort will be an invaluable lesson for them that can result in a more engaged citizenry in the future.
Hy,Thanks for your comment. I’m very curious about what other historical examples you know of where children have lead adults. It would be good to chronicle them and learn from the precedent they set.