Do not count out the voices of youth

It is tough being a young person right now, and I do not envy anyone trying to grow up in this day and age.

Not only are they dealing with social media dangers and pressures and higher rates of suicide and bullying, they are also dealing with people disregarding their voice on these issues.

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On March 15 in the United States, students marched out of their schools to protest gun violence in the wake of the 17 students and teachers killed in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.

The people of North America have seen school shootings many times before, with an estimated 7,000 children killed by gun violence since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, according to the advocacy group Avaaz.

Avaaz placed 7,000 pairs of shoes on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on March 13 to represent the 1,300 children a year who die in the US because of gun violence.

The students who took to the streets of US cities and towns, some of them even after being threatened with disciplinary action, have said enough is enough.

My reason for writing about this is twofold.

One, I want young people to know that I admire them and the amazing things they are doing. They are speaking up and trying to make their country and the world better.

Some of these students from Parkland and their families have even received death threats for doing so.

Comments under news stories about the Parkland students discounted and dismissed what the students went through just because of their age.

Gun violence is something that is impacting many students in the United States and they have just as much reason to protest as any person in the country over the age of 18.

To anyone who thinks otherwise, I ask this: what is the acceptable age for a young person to be heard? At what age do their opinions start to matter?

My second reason for writing about this in Humboldt, SK, far removed from Washington, DC or Parkland, FL, is that our young people in the area are watching. They are seeing comments about the invalidity of student protests, and they may even start to believe them.

Our students may be removed by distance from the protests of their US peers, but young people still have amazing power and we should not be discounting that.

I had the pleasure of attending the fourth annual Pink Day celebration at LeRoy School on March 15 where hundreds of students gathered to talk about bullying.

Teachers at the school proudly say it was the students who did were the primary organizers of Pink Day.

At any point in time, an adult or a teacher could have told these students that the were not equipped with the skills or vision to put on this amazing event, and it may not have happened.

As adults, I do not understand how we could say this to any young person with a vision.

Do people not remember being young people themselves? Do we not remember what is was like to be overpowered by the opinions of adults? Why do we ever think this is acceptable?

To every young person: you matter. Your dreams, goals, fears and voice matter. And do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

© Copyright Humboldt Journal

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