Too often after major tragedies, time is spent mourning before creating a discussion on preventative measures. Oftentimes, within a week the media will be focused on the next newsworthy event.
The surviving students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, however, are refusing to let the world forget about them.
So far, students and activists have organized a crucial event in order to spark conversation about gun control and school safety. This event, The March For Our Lives will be taking place on March 24. Students taking charge and demanding more from the government may just be the push to create a policy change, which is so desperately needed.
“At the end of the day, the students at my school felt one shared experience—our politicians abandoned us by failing to keep guns out of schools,” according to a CNN op-ed piece, written by Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the Parkland shooting.
Activism by students, even those who are unable to vote, is not new. “In the late 1960s and early 1970s, high school students across America staged ‘blowouts’ (their term for walkouts) to protest unequal conditions in their high schools,” as reported by CNN.
Demonstrations, such as these, inspire voters to advocate for change, eventually placing politicians in office that support the same causes. History has proven that juvenile student activism is not in vain.
Perhaps the smartest move these student organizers can make is to market The March For Our Lives as a rally about school safety issues and steer away from making it just another debate about gun control or an attack on the National Rife Association.
“The object here is to mobilize people who don’t already agree with them and to get gun owners, as well as people who haven’t focused on the issue and those who’ve supported the NRA in the past, to rethink their views,” according to The Washington Post.
Many people are already having issues taking these students seriously due to their age. The last thing needed is alienating such a massive group of people, especially when, if marketed correctly, the students have the potential to change a lot of minds and create serious legislative change.
“School safety is not a political issue. There cannot be two sides to doing everything in our power to ensure the lives and futures of children who are at risk of dying when they should be learning, playing, and growing,” according to the The March For Our Lives mission statement.
Such a declaration indicates that the students have given serious thought to how they market the rally.
Nevertheless, some individuals still see these activists as children and refuse to even consider what they have to say. In attempt to shut down school walkouts popping up all around the country, inspired by The March For Our Lives, some schools are threatening them with serious punishments.
“The Needville Independent School District in Texas issued a warning Tuesday that anyone who participated in a walkout or other political protest would be suspended for three days,” as reported by CNN.
While suspension is no fun for anyone, maybe accepting such an outrageous punishment is exactly the kind of action that will force people to recognize that these students are serious and worth listening to.
Achieving policy change, especially with something centered around gun control, is no simple task. There’s no telling what will come out of The March For Our Lives, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.
With the momentum from this event backed by the pleas and demands of so many student activists, eventually, it will be impossible to keep dismissing them. Hopefully, this movement will lead to serious legislative actions.