Students are speaking out about social justice.

As a humane educator, I read books, magazines, journals and news articles about children and social justice issues.  The status quo seems to be what adults think young people need to learn. Parents make the rules we think they need to follow. The media tells them what we think they need to wear, what they need to eat, what to drink.   We tell them which friends they should spend time and how they should spend their free time.

So often adults say things like, “Youth is wasted on the young”, or “You’ll appreciate this when you are older”.  How often have you heard an adult tell a child “This is for your own good”, or “This hurts me more than it hurts you”?

All of these statements send a message to our children that their feelings don’t matter…

…and that wisdom only comes with age.  It clearly sends the message that young people do not have any thoughts or opinions about their lives. Well, young people do have important things to say. NOW is the time to listen to them speak.  

The social justice-minded students at Margory Stoneman Douglas High School have been talking with the media about gun control issues.  They are planning bus trips to Washington to speak with lawmakers.  All in an effort to get adults to listen and take action on behalf of students all around the country.  Students are stepping up and demanding that adults take action. They are tired of being victims and losing friends and teachers because the adults they trust to protect them have failed in a major way.

Students around the country are organizing…

…and taking action to stand up for what they believe in and for what they deserve-a safe environment.  Although the main topic will be gun control, this is no longer merely a question of gun control.

These young people have brought attention to social justice and other topics that we so badly need to start a conversation about gun control issues.  Topics such as national security, humane education in our schools and how “politics” can and does get in the way of progress in this country.  It is an amazing thing to watch these students coming together for a cause bigger than themselves. We should be inspired by their courage and resolve to find a better way.

Some of the reactions from adults on social media. Have you read that school officials in Texas will suspend any student who stands up for what they believe in by participating in walk outs, rallies or any other activities not related to the school curriculum.  The reason, school officials say, is that school is a place to “learn” academics and not to “disobey” the rules and that “choices” have consequences.

Say, what???   

Check the glossary in the back of your social studies book under “civil disobedience” please…What about the consequences that children today are living with that are the result of bad choices that others have made for them??

Others are calling these young people “actors” and accusing them of being “paid” for their emotional reactions and for their desire to stand up and take action.  The same adults have been yelling about their civil liberties and their right to bear arms.  What happens when those civil liberties and right to bear arms are messing with the civil liberties of the children in our country?  Are dead children the price of freedom?

Can we, or will we, put down the mirror with our own reflections staring back at us and take a good long look into the faces of our children and think about their civil liberties?  Let’s talk less about the guns and more about the children.  After all, they are the future of this country and of this planet.  

As James Corden said in his monologue on the Late Show recently, something has changed. The children are speaking up. Let’s get behind them and give them all of the encouragement they need to make a difference in the lives of children everywhere. So, listen more than you talk, acknowledge ALL feelings and find out what you and your children can do be part of the solution. Don’t be a part of the problem.  Stop sheltering the children. Provide them with more than thoughts and prayers now. Finally, don’t just tell them it’s going to be OK. Most of all, stand with them and make your own changes too. Otherwise, it will never be OK.  

#marchforourlives      #listentothechildren      #humaneeducator      #changingheartschanginglives