While no parent relishes the thought of children missing school, the duplicity our kids face is clear, particularly to them. In a nation where the gun law exists as a right to bear arms for matters of self-defense, we’re asking children to attend public spaces at risk for mass murder. Spaces where they will have no defense whatsoever.

As a psychotherapist who’s worked in the schools, I’ve treated youth suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Social media has brought the scene of the Parkland massacre into the minds of any young person watching. And many are saying the same thing as my 16-year-old daughter: “I want to feel safe when I go to school.”

Taking action is a form of healing, and gives kids a tool in responding to the question: Will my school be next? As tragic as the recent days have been, we’ve begun to feel a purity of hope we’ve gone without for decades. For what’s more inspiring than an articulate, impassioned teenager taking on the government and the National Rifle Association with all the determination of a true revolutionary? Something in us rises as we watch them, something we may have forgotten was even there.

We tell our young people in direct and indirect ways that they are the future, responsible for making the world a better place. And, while no child should carry the burden of changing a flawed nation, no child should fear for their life in doing what the law of the land requires. Since we’ve told them “you are the future,” perhaps it’s time to let them stand, supporting them and marching with them as often and as far as we can.

So, what will this mom do on March 14 when our high school students walk out of school as an act of protest? Help them.

Amy Carpenter, LCSW


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