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Lift up young people; don’t break their spirit: Editorial

Posted 3/20/18

We are perplexed at why students across the country would be met with disdain for taking part in last Wednesday’s national walkout to honor the 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School …

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Lift up young people; don’t break their spirit: Editorial

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We are perplexed at why students across the country would be met with disdain for taking part in last Wednesday’s national walkout to honor the 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.

We don’t agree with adults who criticize the students, saying they only want to get out of class, that they are too young to have their voices matter, that they are pawns of the left, that these are the same kids who ate Tide pods one month and are now constitutional experts the next.

That is sad. It’s ridiculous to lump all young people together like that, especially when there are numerous fine young people at our area schools that want what is best for this country, and to see the bloodshed end.

We can’t speak for all the high school students out there. The world in which they live is very different from what most of us went through, pre-social media, pre-attack mode society.

But we know that many of them want to have a say, to feel like they are making a positive difference, when their peers are being gunned down in what presumably should be places of learning.

Across the country, the National School Walkout, as it was dubbed, was mostly targeted at gun control.  At Middletown Area High School, students took a bit different tack. They did not address the gun issue directly, but instead wanted to focus on mental health issues. Almost 80 students took part, and they want their resolution taken to Pennsylvania legislators.

In the afternoon, Middletown Area Middle School students stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the halls. On the sixth-grade floor, students lined up to sign a poster that read “Never Again.”

Why must we be cynical about actions like this?

“We agreed as a student body that gun control wasn’t the issue. The issue was the mental health of the student body. That’s what we wanted the resolution to focus on,” junior Terrance Jefferson, one of the organizers, said in an interview after the walkout.

To us, that focus is warranted, while not being nearly as controversial as taking a stand against guns. If that was the consensus of the students who took part, then so be it.

The walkout isn’t about one day of action. We want to see what happens in the coming weeks, months, years and even decades.

Will anything be done at the state or national level regarding gun control? What about mental health care?

Will the resolution read by students get to our legislators, including state Rep. Tom Mehaffie? Will it be taken seriously?

But let us project even further.

Will the young people who took part in the walkout grow into our leaders of tomorrow? Will they be buoyed by potential changes in our state or national policies in which they feel they played a part? Or will they be soured by the negativity fired their way and check out of the political process?

We certainly hope it’s the former, but the answer won’t come for many, many years.

Older generations have an unfortunate habit of disregarding younger ones as “me gnerations” who don’t know anything about life.

We have not found that to be the case with local students who took part in last Wednesday’s walkout.

Let’s help them grow as people. We shouldn’t be putting them down. So many of them simply want a safer, more understanding society for everyone.

What’s wrong with that?