Around the country, students demand action to prevent more school shootings.

Eleanor Hedges Duroy, age 15

A sign from the March for Our Lives protest in New York City. Credit: Flickr / Tristan Loper

 

A March for Our Lives, a youth-centered movement, has taken root across the nation. Students everywhere are voicing their right to attend classes peacefully without the threat of gun violence, and they are organizing to advocate for change.

It began in response to a school shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. On February 14, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student entered the doors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and carried out a mass shooting that killed 15 students and two teachers and wounded 14 people. The entire ordeal took only 6 six and a half minutes.

Led by survivors of the Parkland high school shootings, students around the country are standing up to say in one unified voice “Enough is enough” and “We want change!” On March 14th, 2018 to mark the one-month anniversary of the Stoneman Douglas shooting, students from approximately 2,800 schools around the United States participated in school walkouts to protest gun violence. From 10:00 am until 10:17 am students left their classrooms and united outside schools in order to hold moments of silence, listen to speeches, register to vote, sing, and pray. They also held memorials for the deaths at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and all others who have been killed by gun violence in schools.

Esme Chin-Parker, 14, of Granville, Ohio told IndyKids that “Gun control is something that is really important and it’s not being addressed as is it should be. One of the only ways to address it is through protest. Hopefully, this walkout will inspire more people to talk about these issues and also inspire Congress to do something.” While some schools encouraged all students and teachers to participate in the walkout, other schools like North Oldham High School in Kentucky punished students for walking out by handing out detentions or threatening expulsion. Students at South Plainfield High School in New Jersey were told that they could gather in an assembly, but 75 students were punished with one-day suspensions for walking out of the building to do a 17-minute procession in which they carried 17 orange balloons to represent the 17 victims. of the shooting.

On March 24 students and families from cities like Washington, DC, and Los Angeles, and from states such as Wisconsin to Texas and everywhere in between gathered in city centers nationwide to continue the protest. Students urged legislators to take action, discussed ideas for reform, talked about the senseless horror of surviving a school shooting. They sent a clear message to Congress and all adults that they demanded legislative change to ensure their safety within their schools, neighborhoods, and communities. Eleven-year-old Naomi Wadler said at the DC rally, “My friends and I might be still be 11 and we might still be in elementary school, but we know, we know life isn’t equal for everyone and we know what is right and wrong,”She also reminded Congress that, “We stand in the shadow of the Capitol, and we know that we have seven short years until we too have the right to vote.”

 

Walkout: An organized protest in which students or employees leave class or work all at the same time.

Legislator: A public official who creates laws.