After Parkland, students take action


The Atlantic wrote last month that the progression of a mass shooting in the U.S. follows an "all-too-familiar play."

Act I: Some combination of grief and shock and terror ripples across the nation, accompanied by a deluge of news coverage.

Act II: Gun-control advocates leverage the moment to call for stricter laws; those who oppose such restrictions offer their thoughts and prayers to victims but argue that gun control won’t help.

Act III: the inevitable deadlock. America moves on; America forgets. Nothing changes, except for those for whom everything has changed. Public opinion on gun control remains as divided as ever.

One month and several protest marches later, the teenagers of Parkland have decidedly stolen the show. Rewritten it, even.

Students from across the country are fed up with the way legislators have handled the shooting in Parkland, Florida, whcih is now the deadliest high-school shooting in modern U.S. history.

The inaction of Congress has spurred a student-led revolution across the country to protest the normalcy of gun violence.

What the students of Parkland have done so far

The teenagers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School started out with the National School Walkout on March 14, during which students across the nation walked out of class for 17 minutes to protest Congress's inability to pass legislation on gun control reform. Accompanied by this movement was the hashtag #Enough, used on Twitter and on protest signs.

A little over a week later was the "March for Our Lives" protest held in Washington D.C., with satellite protests in most major cities throughout the U.S. and extending to other countries.

But even students were unable march, they still have found many other ways to engage with their community.

What can you do in your school?

Before you decide on what course of action to take, you should understand the reasons for taking action. Reflect on your ideas using the following questions, written by political theorist Danielle Allen:

  1. Why does it matter to me?
  2. How much [about myself] should I share?
  3. How do I make it about more than myself?
  4. Where do we start?
  5. How can we make it easy and engaging?
  6. How do [we] get wisdom from crowds?
  7. How do [we] handle the downside of crowds?
  8. Does raising voices count as [civic and] political action?
  9. How do we get from voice to change?
  10. How can we find allies?

Once you've brainstormed on your own or with your class or other groups, take a look at some of the suggestions written below.

Students at Andover High School organized a sit-in during school hours to discuss what happened in Parkland and facilitated a school-wide discussion on solutions to gun violence.

Parkland students have interviewed with reporters from several news networks and squared off with NRA officials during town hall meetings on live television.

You don't have to do something as large-scale as them, but a suggestion is to write a letter signed by everyone in your school and send it to the Parkland students to tell them you stand by their demands.

Another possibility is to work with other students in your school and contact your local government officials to let them know where you stand on the issue of gun control for schools.

You can ask teachers for help and advice on how to deliver your message to your representatives. The teens at Parkland prepared scripts to call elected officials by phone.

Reminder that this list is not exhaustive: If you have a better idea, then go for it! If your school has done something related to Parkland, let us know in the comments section below or submit a description of what your school did.