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Supporting Students Right to Speak Up

Dr. Shaunette Parker, My SC Education

Today, many of our students participated in a  national school walkout to show remembrance for he 17 students killed in Parkland, Fl. The walkout was also intended to protest gun violence and get lawmakers to develop stricter laws on acquiring guns. As I listened to coverage about this national walkout and as I thought about my own school age children; I began to think about our responsibility as parents to support our students’ right to speak up about important issues that affect them.

Aside from being the Executive Director of My SC Education, I always consider myself a parent first. I feel that my primary responsibility is to my children and to the children I educate on a regular basis. To that end, we must consider our role as parents when it comes to tough issues like school violence. As we encourage our children to use their power to get new legislation passed to aid in the prevention of school shootings, we must come alongside these young people to educate them about the purpose of peaceful protest. We must encourage them not to follow the pack-but to find their own meaning and voice. Protest without purpose or a collective voice with plausible solutions, is weak.

I believe it would be great if parents and school leaders would support groups of students in their local communities to come together to identify anti-school violence solutions that make sense in their communities. While we work to help them understand the bigger picture and the changes that are (or are not) happening on a national level, we can help our students be a part of the change process in their own community. Although it may seem a bit cliche, I truly believe children are our future and they deserve an opportunity to have their voices heard. We owe them supportive guidance.