We had fire drills, our kids have active shooter drills

It’s time to listen and to take action

Kaitlynn Miller set a goal — she would sell 2,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

Luke Zempel and Zach Jensen set a goal — they would each become an Eagle Scout.

Through sheer effort and determination each of these local young people met their goals this year. Their stories have been told in the pages of our newspaper. They are just a fraction of the youth in this county who set their sights on something and achieve it — whether it be attaining good grades, playing on a sports team, producing beautiful art, or simply being the best person that they can be.

Youth nationwide have been in the spotlight in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. No doubt most of our readers saw at least some of the coverage of the 800 March for Our Lives events held around the world March 24. CSPAN covered the entire Washington D.C. event live and then re-aired it throughout the day.

No matter one’s politics, (though it’s hard to understand how anyone could pick a fight with school safety) the youth movement has been impressive. We hope this action succeeds in motivating a new generation to register to vote and to make their voices heard.

We, the adults in the room, can’t fathom what it’s like to be in their shoes. Sure, some of us are old enough to remember scrambling under our desks as part of air raid drills, but none of us endured active shooter drills that could happen anywhere at anytime with no warning. For the most part, our drills were limited to filing out onto the playground when the fire alarm sounded.

Today’s youth have set an unprecedented goal — eliminating the threat of gun violence. They have some formidable foes and hurdles.

We adults have our role to play in helping them achieve their goals. Just as the parents of Kaitlynn Miller, Luke Zempel and Zach Jensen helped them. Miller couldn’t have enjoyed the success that she did if her parents hadn’t helped her transport cases and cases of cookies and account for the thousands of dollars those cookie sales represented. Likewise the Eagle Scouts didn’t realize the highest distinction in Scouting without their parents helping to facilitate that achievement.

No doubt the parents of the Parkland students journeyed with them to Washington D.C. and supported them in any way that they could. Those parents have witnessed first the devastation and now the determination in their children’s eyes. We must do the same.

We can begin by listening to them and respecting their decision to take action. It’s been shocking to hear of adults who are attacking the students, twisting their words and actions. The students should be celebrated for saying “enough is enough” not bullied, when their elder generations have obviously failed them.

But beyond just listening respectfully, we can join them in pushing for common sense measures to protect schools and end gun violence. The circumstances surrounding these students’ rise to civic action are tragic, but their response is inspiring.

Click here to submit a letter to the editor about this post.