Will the rise of student activism after the Parkland, Florida school shooting help reduce mass shootings?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-Ah, the idealism of youth! I sometimes long for the days when I truly believed that walking out of class, painting signs and marching while singing protest songs could actually bring about change.  Sadly, I have lived a half-century now and realize that our government has been completely bought and paid for by special interests, chief among them the gun lobby.  Even the merest suggestion that private citizens might not need to defend themselves or go hunting with weapons designed to kill humans by the score is met with Constitution-shaking outrage and the threat of dried-up donations.

The only way things are going to change is if these idealistic kids stay that way long enough to start voting, and if they recruit enough like-minded friends to really make noise at the ballot box.  New leaders must be elected and their feet held to the fire to keep them off the gun lobby teat long enough to enact real change.

And yes, I think armed guards in schools is a fantastic idea. But that won’t stop lunatics from targeting any other place where large groups of people congregate. We have to rein in the gun culture.

 

Myrtle Beach, SC Correspondent-I believe that ANY time our students become active in these types of issues it helps. BUT, let me say that most of the time the younger generation (school age) speaks up but doesn’t actually change anything. We need to do something in this country about bullying. In my opinion these school shootings and issues are mostly tied to that one issue (not always, but most of the time). We need national initiatives to stop and prevent bullying in schools.

This starts at home! If a kid is caught bullying I think the parents should be held responsible to an extent. It’s plain and simple in my eyes…your kid is YOUR responsibility, and as a parent you have the responsibility to raise good members of society! If you have a dog that bites someone what happens? You get a fine (at the very least).  Sometimes the dog is taken away, or you have to provide training etc. Why isn’t the same done with kids? Your kid is a bully, you get a fine and they are required to do community service or therapy or all of the above! Let’s start there.

Next, we need to give the teachers more ability to shape children in the classroom. Lighten up the testing and put more focus on learning to be a decent human being while also teaching the essentials. Teachers aren’t allowed to “teach” anymore; it’s all about testing.  They can’t say anything to a kid, and they SURE can’t discipline kids anymore. That needs to change. Also, maybe we add a mandatory class for students on bullying and the dangers.

Put everything together and maybe we can make a difference, but it’s not going to happen overnight and with one school. We need to work as an entire society to change this and raise decent human beings instead of bullies.

 

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-When students across the country rose up earlier this year in protest over the ever-worsening problem of school shootings, America took notice. Activist leaders—led by some Parkland students who survived the Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS massacre—took to the national stage and started what seemed like a serious movement. Their goal is to put an end to the insanity of helpless people being gunned down by disturbed individuals.

Admittedly, it has only been a brief time since that tragedy occurred, so it’s hard to say if this student activism will gain traction and develop into a serious and powerful movement. My intuition tells me nothing will change despite the best efforts of these young activists.

The main reason is that for protests to work—to actually affect change—political will is required. Unfortunately, today’s breed of politicians no longer leads. The electorate is apathetic to the extreme as well as divided as never before. Until protests for a solution reach a critical mass of participants (millions of people marching at the same time, and on numerous occasions), government leaders will continue paying lip service to the activists.

I hope student leaders find a way to mobilize social media and technology akin to what happened during the Arab Spring earlier this decade. But the average American is not directly impacted by the tragedy of school shootings. Therefore, it will be hard to mobilize voters to elect politicians who will be willing to compromise on gun control laws and address the core problem of why these shooters are increasing in numbers and how to demotivate them from committing mass violence. This student-led movement to reduce school shootings may eventually succeed, but I fear it will prove to be a blip on the radar in continuing story of one of America’s worst social problems.

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