The media has been engaging in a political tactic of putting traumtized high school kids on television to vent out their emotional angst for the entire world to see and go relieve the horrific events that are still fresh in their minds.
Thefederalist.com reported: There is little new about the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead. We have seen it all before: the cocktail of a disturbed young man, access to guns, and a society that devalues life mixed to create another national tragedy. The round-the-clock news coverage and profound proclamations from politicians are all eerily familiar, a haunting echo that finds us over and over.
But this time there’s a new wrinkle that many proponents of gun control hope will tip the scales in their favor. This time, the kids who survived are speaking out. On television and at rallies, the children are taking the lead to denounce America’s laws about guns and push for political change. But what if putting traumatized teenagers, mere days removed from a shocking and life-changing event, in front of cameras and crowds is not healthy? Have we thought that through?
The day after the mass shooting, we first started seeing students appear on the news. Scant hours before, they had been huddled in classrooms, fearing for their lives. On television most were possessed of calmness even when they broke down to tears. A generation brought up to broadcast their lives on social media knew instinctively how to handle being on TV and present themselves to an electronic world.
At first, interviewers asked what they had seen and gone through, how they were feeling. Then something changed. These kids began to be asked what they thought could be done about it? In some cases it was the students themselves who seemed to want to discuss policy.
These young people’s bravery and eloquence was impressive and an opportunity. By the weekend after the shooting, news outlets were interviewing sincere teenagers about gun policy and reporting on the Never Again movement they were launching, and the march they planned for next month.
The Appeal of Youth
These kids appeal to us, because they have that spirit unique to youth that believes anything can be conquered. It’s a spirit adults must cast off, even if we look back on it longingly. These students really do believe that everything is about to change, they will be the ones to change it, and this change will make sense of their brutal tragedy and mean that their friends’ deaths were not in vain.
But what if that doesn’t happen? What happens in six months when CNN isn’t calling for interviews, they aren’t gaining thousands of Twitter followers a day, Congress once again fails to take up any of the meaningful measures they are calling for? What happens in a year or two, when the next school shooting occurs and #NeverAgain becomes simply again? Their movement and moment will be over, but their nightmares and trauma will still be fresh.
When horrible events like school shootings take place, adults, particularly parents and educators, have a responsibility to help and protect children. This time, that has been turned on its head. This time it is the kids who have a responsibility to save us. Like abusive parents, we are asking them to be the adults, to be the force of stability.
As many adults who were once abused children will tell you, that can seem like a welcome responsibility. It can feel empowering to be 16 and know that you are the one taking care of the adults. But it is not healthy. It is not something any responsible adult should be asking of our children.
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