These Kids Are Something: What student-demonstrations against gun violence say about society

(Kimberly Nguyen/The Daily Campus)

Sandy Hook was the first school shooting I can remember. I came home from my eighth grade classes on a Friday, and as soon as I walked in the door my mom gave me a hug. Given that we’re not a huge huggy family, I was sort of like, ‘Mom, what the heck, get off me, you saw me eight hours ago.’ What I didn’t understand was that she’d just been watching news footage of parents who wouldn’t get to see their children come home, not today and not ever again.

Later that year, we made paper snowflakes in one of my classes to send to Sandy Hook. They wanted to paper the walls of the school with them so that the returning students wouldn’t recognize it so easily as the scene of violence but as some kind of Winter Wonderland.

Since then, there have been so many school shootings (and other shootings) that for a while I got into the habit of just ignoring the news alerts that came across my phone. It was too depressing, and nothing ever seemed to change. After the big ones, politicians would say things and families would say things, and then we would go back to doing our lockdown drills in the winter time when it was too cold for fire drills.

Now though, it seems like something is finally changing, because instead of politicians speaking and parents speaking, students are speaking. And that’s amazing. It makes me wish that back in high school I’d had the initiative to look around at my fallen countrymen and walk out of my school instead of ignoring all those news alerts. It says a lot about the character of today’s high schoolers; it doesn’t say that they’re obsessed with their iPhones and only know how to speak emoji, but that they’re passionate, empathetic and willing to stand up for what they believe in. All those things that guidance counselors say about standing up for your friend that’s getting bullied or all the things teachers say about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks didn’t just stick with today’s teens but actually influenced the way they approach their world.

That’s awesome, more than awesome. At the same time, it’s kind of sad that we need them to be so active.

Mammals aren’t like sea turtles or dandelions. We don’t have hundreds or thousands of kids and just ditch them in the wild somewhere, expecting some of them to get mowed down or eaten by seagulls so that only the toughest few survive to live on and perpetrate the next generation. It’s all about energy. Instead of spending all our energy on just popping out forty anklebiters and seeing how they turn out, we’re supposed to spend our energy taking care of a few children and teaching them how to live in the world. When kids have to stand up and say, ‘Hey, stop letting people shoot us; something isn’t right with the system.’ Adults aren’t taking care of children any longer, children are trying to take care of themselves.

Even more specifically, our governments are created to protect the people within them. Sure, there’s an amendment about guns, but so what? If guns put children in danger and if children are dying, the government should be doing something about it.

So in some ways, we can say, ‘Wow, these kids are really something,’ or we can look at it another way, and say, ‘Boy, have these politicians failed.


Alex Houdeshell is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.houdeshell@uconn.edu.