Gun Violence and the #NeverAgain Movement: A Youth Perspective

Almost a month ago, on February 14th 2018, a day dedicated to love and friendship, another mass shooting occurred in Parkland, FL. This shooting instigated a movement by the students in that school that has grown nationwide.

We, at SPAN, wanted to know how those events are impacting our local teens. We asked a couple of questions to the young people from our after school program: Peers Building Justice (PBJ), regarding gun violence, and here is what they had to say about it:

Do you feel inspired/hopeful by the movement the Parkland survivors have started regarding gun control? Why or why not?
I am absolutely inspired by the movement of the Parkland survivors regarding gun control. It’s really incredible to see young people not just speaking up, but also genuinely being heard by adults both in the community and in those in political office across the country. Teens are constantly pointing out the issues in our society and working to fix them, but often have to work twice as hard to even simply be acknowledged, so I think this shows progress in many different areas of our community. However, even still, I thinks it’s important that we remember that teens and young people of color have been speaking out against gun violence in their communities for a very long time, and have not gotten the kind of attention the Parkland survivors are receiving now. There is something to be said about the fact that this is growing out of a very affluent, white community in our country and that cannot be forgotten. With this in mind, though, the teens who have worked to start this movement inspire me more every day to speak up and use my voice, especially as a young white person in a similarly affluent and white community, to advocate for gun control along with other issues I care about and be an ally to those who don’t have as loud of a voice as I do.
~ Maddy, 16

What are your thoughts/feelings when going to school every day? Do you feel safe? Why or why not?
I am very thankful that most of the days that I go to school, I can feel safe. But, some students don’t feel safe at their school, even though schools should be a safe zone for students. Also, there are a lot of issues with schools being threatened. For example, one day that I didn’t feel safe at school was when there was a shooting threat. Even my parents were doubtful if they should’ve sent me and my older brother to school that day, but when I arrived at school I realized that most students didn’t show up. It was such a big deal that it even seemed like the teachers were scared. For example, my 1st period teacher decided to address what the situation was and why so many students were missing. Also, he even thought it was necessary to explain to us what our emergency escape options were because everyone was very paranoid. Nobody should have to be scared to come to school, we should all feel safe in our learning environments.
~ Enrique, 15

Do you believe the National School Walkouts and the March for Our Lives rallies will impact/will lead to change? Why or why not?
I do believe that the National School Walkouts and the March for Our Lives rallies can lead to change. All fifty states will be having marches on the 24th of March, and I really hope that the amount of students that will be marching will be enough to convince our government that they need to protect us and not their guns. The March for Our Lives is led by the Parkland survivors, I believe that the political action that they have created in my generation will continue to lead to change even past gun control. This nationwide movement is going to make a lasting impact, and I am ready to make history.
~Tatai, 17

Excerpts from Peers Building Justice. To read full article click here.

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