If they walk out, we need to step up

We complain that kids won’t get off their phones or stop playing video games. We accuse them of having no idea what is going on in the world. We think they are apathetic, uneducated and self-involved.     

So when they do something that applies the civics lessons they’ve learned in school, it is a prime opportunity to give them positive reinforcement, to applaud them for exercising their rights and engaging in the democratic process.

Take the March for Our Lives, for example. On March 24, after Parenting NH goes to press, a peaceful protest put together by students who survived the mass shooting at their Parkland, Fla., high school is scheduled to take place across the country. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to participate in more than 800 events worldwide.

While the organizers’ efforts have been widely supported, the teens have also been accused in the national media of being “paid actors,” told they are too young to have any rights or know anything about the issue, and have been discredited and dismissed.

Regardless of your personal feelings on gun control, all of us should be supporting kids who want to exercise their First Amendment rights and be active participants in a democratic society.

We want our kids to be good citizens, so it is hypocritical to discourage them from acting on their convictions. Or better yet, trying to divert them from doing so with a completely different concept like #walkupnotout, where students, instead of walking out of class, are told to walk up to classmates and be nice to them, inferring that it is on them to prevent the next shooting by putting them in charge of their friend’s mental health.

March for Our Lives, and the protests and walkouts that follow, are real-life teachable moments schools and parents should use to reinforce their knowledge of civics.

We cannot send the contradictory message – be a good citizen but when you get older or it’s something I agree with or it’s more convenient. We have so much to lose in the future if we don’t allow their voices to be heard now.   

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