How Young Is Too Young for Protest? A National Gun-Violence Walkout Tests Schools

A coordinated protest on Wednesday at schools across the U.S. has administrators making special plans for students who may not be old enough to handle the subject.


Comments: 155

  1. The people who are most vulnerable to mass shootings have a right to speak out and be heard. And that is our children. Let them speak.

  2. Um, it is the adult administrators in my district that are asking to be heard. A bunch of elementary age kids aren't organizing- the faculty are. I didn't receive emails about walk-out plans from my 5 and 8 year old- pretty sure it was a 50-something principal.

  3. My son’s fourth grade class decided to walk out just this past week. They made posters along the lines of “keep guns out of schools”. They were mostly cheered but did get one obnoxious “boo” from an old Caucasian man in a pickup truck. So I guess that stereotype holds up.

  4. As long as adults are too weak willed to do anything meaningful about the NRA negligence to compromise in the face of slaughtered children we must at least talk about the reality of our children's lives. Perhaps too many snowflakes can't face the 'heat' that is the reality of their negligence. Or when it comes to children and guns like children and drugs or children and pregnancy we could just say no.

  5. Great response. they are plainly not "uncommon" enough

  6. I admire student's bravery, shaming us oldies, and especially those able to change things for the better, politicians in power. Can't we see there is deep dereliction of duty, insofar gun control is concerned, by the republican party, that insists in doing nothing that may alter their 'good standing' with the N.R.A., while innocent lives are mowed down by the most irresponsible freely availability of guns in our midst? No other country, if civilized, comes close to the violence we have come to accept as 'normal'. Just know there is nothing normal about our stupidity in expecting better results by insisting in the status quo. Public protests, however disruptive, are called for, to call attention to our cowardice in stopping the mayhem.

  7. Actually it would be brave if a child asked to be taught history, math and reading comprehension in many of our districts- not go with the majority flow of walking out etc.
    Elementary and middle school age children are often focused on fitting in. The time to be brave is high school/college adulthood.

  8. You are right of course, education is the priority to enhance youth talent, but what are the students to do when we adults sit idle, watching carnage after carnage due to guns that ought not be available in civil society?

  9. These kids have been running lock down drills for a few years now. Did you report on whether they are too young for that?? if they are old enough to practice hiding from a killer with a gun, they have to be old enough to protest the same.

  10. Exactly!

  11. Exactly! I'm an educator who has been cowering in corners with students for the past decade, practicing hiding from a lunatic, while police and our school administrators jingle the doorknobs and shine flashlights into our darkened locked rooms. Kindergarten on up must practice these drills. Be angry at that!

  12. Perfect response...Thanks.

  13. They are the next generation and the ones that have a chance to reverse all of the screwups that the grown ups have caused.

    More power to them ~ Resist ~ Agitate ~ ( then ultimately ) VOTE !

  14. This is backwards. The kids are behaving more responsibly than the adults. We would all be much better off if we lowered the voting age.

  15. Children are like little scientists. They observe the world around them. They draw conclusions. They know what’s right and wrong. They can think through moral questions. I know this because I taught 3rd and 4th graders for 8 years.

    Kids can make a difference! Their view of the world is more pure than ours. They see our faults. They want them corrected. Just as parents and teachers try to correct theirs.

    This Children’s Protest/Crusade is a wonderful development. It gives them an opportunity to do something - in the face of dangers around them that they cannot yet vote out of existence. It gives them an opportunity to be part of something larger than themselves. To participate in a national conversation. To tell the rest of us to return to the purity and decency of childhood. To stop the killing and the selling of killing machines.

    Jesus said: “Let the little children come to me.” (Listen up, fundamentalists!)

  16. Thank you for your post. I agree with you, totally. It's just such a shame that the so-called president once again wants to take the wind out of a wonderful movement - the Children's Protest/Crusade - by grabbing once again the news headline with his firing of Tillerson.....guns and the children will take a back seat in the news. Pitiful!

  17. I was 11 years old and in 5th grade in 1969 when my parents allowed me to play hooky to attend the Morotorium to End the War in Vietnam protest. My friends and I went to the massive rally in Washington Square Park to hand out leaflets.

    My parents were cool, bleeding-heart liberals who were sick of the war. 49 years later, I thank them.

    I don’t know whether I contributed to the end of the war, but it was thrill to witness and participate in one of the great things about our country: freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

  18. 11? Ok, that's pretty par for the course now- I guess all parents are "cool" now (and look how great our country is doing!) We are talking about 5 year olds in some districts- like the one my kids are in. Yes, Kindergarteners are participating. The issue is: they are not asking to protest, the schools are telling... get it?

  19. I think the question should be, when is it too young to die by the gun. Our children have decided to do what we as adults have failed to: protect and preserve their lives. What used to be an uncommon danger us now all too common. The important has been allowed to become urgent

  20. One way for schools to approach this, at least at the junior high and high school levels, might be to hold moderated, researched debates among students with opposing points of view. Facts should be given precedence over opinions and talking points, and thus the teachable moment afforded but this atrocity might actually be used for learning.
    Since the walkout is Wednesday there is no time now for schools to organize such debates, but the idea might be considered as a response in preparation for the next school shooting.

  21. That would be too much like honest discourse with respect for opposing ideas. Never happen in our common core socialist school system. Too bad because you are correct.

  22. Sheila -- I think you will find very few grade-school students who will articulate any pro-gun view you'd want to see on stage -- even if you hold pro-gun views.

    Just exactly how does it work to have a 10-year-old talking about "the right" to have any gun, let alone a semi-automatic weapon capable of killing many, quickly?

    Those children who might do so ... one would be very worried about.

  23. "the next school shooting"

    That is a tough pill to swallow.

  24. I am 73 and I have never owned a gun. I have never felt the need. I have lived, and visited in many large cities and counties. I do not believe the majority of people In America want to take everyone’s gun privileges away. American parents want to protect their children with
    background checks and control of guns taken out of the wrong hands. The second amendment was created because our county did not have an army to defend our country, which came the decision of the right to bare arms. Now that there are multiple types of defense representing America, the Second amendment is questionable. I believe the assault guns are not safe to be put in just anyone’s hands. I believe everyone should go through psychological exams, background checks, and classes for their hand gun purchasers. I wish I could walk out with everyone of these children. I believe our President did not defend and stand with our future, the children in schools across America.

  25. Your same age and sex - in TOTAL AGREEMENT!

  26. You are partially correct in your first statement. The vast majority of Americans want less gun regulation for honest citizens but it is not a "privilege" It is a RIGHT. BIG difference.

    You are incorrect in your assertion about the origin of The Second Amendment. Please do a little research and report back.

  27. In the late 60s, when Vietnam protests were occurring on college frequency with some regularity, we jokingly asked, "Today, are we sleeping through class, or Sleeping Through Class With a Purpose?" Similarly, while I laud those who are sincerely participating in this walkout, you do have to wonder how many will simply join to get out of school.

  28. For 17 minutes?

  29. I have two elementary-school children, in K and 2nd. They have participated in marches with us before.

    This one is a problem for me. The march does nothing to change their immediate status as safe or not safe at school, but has the potential to make them believe school shootings are more likely than not. I would probably keep them home that day. This is less about shielding them from reality than it is about the potential to set off a series of nights with nightmares and fear of attending school.

  30. How long do you plan to shelter your kids from the real world?

  31. Until they are old enough to have some perspective on real threat, which even a lot of adults seems to have trouble with. Lockdowns are about potential threats. This protest will be full of signs about dead children. It's too real for my 6 and 7-year-olds.

  32. I'm not even sure I believe the lockdown drills make much sense, much like "duck and cover" never made much sense, but that's another argument. This protest is going to focus on specific, real children who died, and much like we limited children viewing and reviewing 9/11 footage, I see a difference between a theoretical danger, however scary, and focusing on real children who died in a school shooting. I do not think they have the perspective to see that they are protesting for potential changes to gun laws, vs. learning that kids get killed at school.

  33. I'm so pleased to see that young people are learning to voice their concerns in a peaceful way. In my home district of Grosse Pointe, MI, students at all middle schools and high schools are the catalyst for a district-wide program of solidarity with kids across the nation to reduce violence and remember students who have lost their lives. Programs are on the football fields, where students will collectively stand for peace and in support of students who have been victims of gun violence. This will be followed by a unified program of Seventeen Days of Kindness, which will encourage generosity and compassion for all students.

    I'm really proud that our students and the district have embraced this peaceful action, ensuring that even in the darkest moments, human goodness can illuminate the world.

  34. AllAtOnce, are you a republican? Most Grosse Pointers are.

  35. "How young is too young for protest?"

    When they're in utero, if mom doesn't go to the protest anyways. This idea that really little kids can't take political action because "they don't understand" is wrong. Nobody is forcing them do it, and if some kid wants to walk out of their kindergarten I have no problem with it.

    Sure, some are going to be out there for stupid reasons. But that happens at most protests, and isn't a problem so long as none of those out there for stupid reasons then do something stupid or counterproductive.

    The First Amendment says that the right to peaceably assemble shall not be infringed. There's no exception for "Unless they're under age 10".

  36. you must not have any children

  37. Someone asked principal Danjile Henderson if fifth-grade is an appropriate age to be protesting. How stupid.

    Were the first and second graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary school too young to be gunned down and slaughtered at school?

    YES. No one - not one single person - should be "gunned down" in public places and WE THE PEOPLE of every age, class and gender who believe that must march on Saturday, March 24th to show OUR United States of America and the world what WE believe. It's not what the nra has shoved down our throats and managed to put into law. Laws can be changed overnight as soon as we elect like-minded lawmakers at every level.

    Sign up for the march below - or just show up:

    https://marchforourlives.com/

  38. We protested over a war waged against Democracy in the ‘60’s. We are protesting the same thing now; only the enemy is from within.

  39. Organized by kids demonstrates they are old enough to fully comprehend what they are doing. If you as a kid don't want to participate, then don't.

  40. "Kids shouldn't be used as props."

    Only as victims then?

    If they are old enough to be slaughtered they are old enough to march.

  41. I heard an opposition comment on NPR this morning something to the effect of (paraphrasing), “These walk outs are a disruption to kids’ learning environment.” You know what else is a disruption to kids’ learning environment? Getting shot at with a gun.

  42. Well, shall we have walk outs from school protesting cars; responsible for orders of magnitude more child deaths? Walk outs protesting drug use and abuse; responsible for more teen deaths- which has increased sixfold since 2002? Bullying, obesity, eating disorders, racism, sexism, emotional/physical/sexual child abuse, underserved intellectually/physically disabled, mentally ill, neuro-atypical students?

    The issue is safety, the issue is inclusion, the issue is health and nutritional support and yes...love.
    Schools, teachers and parents wake up, get smart- develop learning plans and curriculum addressing these morals, values, behaviors. Adults, you fix the laws/policy. Children need to at least first be exposed to civics, history etc. before you trot them out in the street to hold up signs their parents helped them conceive. There are no shortcuts to education. You want change? Start with improving public education.

  43. this walk out was conceived and promoted by the same organization that ran the women's march in Washington DC and around the country.

    my youngest 2 kids are freshman and senior in HS. for kids younger than HS age this issue contains complexities that may be beyond their comprehension. at least in my area, there is no political diversity among educators. they are all of the same political opinion and are constantly pushing their political opinions and agenda into the kids heads. it borders on brainwashing. the 17 y/o senior now sees this and is capable of making his own decisions. the 14 y/o freshman, who is a straight A, all honors classes student, is just starting to realize that teachers don't know everything and that she doesn't have to believe and parrot all their opinions because to her, some of those opinions are just not right.

    this walkout, in my HS, is being sponsored and scheduled by the school. while a place is being provided for students who do not wish to participate, the school has discreetly and indirectly made it known that the expectation is every student should be participating because it is their duty to end gun violence. I believe it is the school's duty to educate my children and teach them to think critically. to be able to assess a situation, form their own opinion and then stand up for it. that is not what is happening here, especially at the elementary and middle school levels. especially when it's a school sponsored event.

  44. I agree with the sentiments of many already posted comments: that these children should be allowed to protest according to their conscience.

    However, I cannot help but feel that we have profoundly failed our children. What world do they live in, that a 4th grader is all too aware that mass murders routinely take place at schools around the nation, at random, and that no action is being taken. That these students feel they must raise their voices in protest because the adults who claim to love them are either unable or unwilling to keep them safe at school.

  45. In my district the teachers will be aiding and abetting the student walkout at the high school. The whole community is looking forward to it.

  46. Given the current environment in this country, there's no minimum age. You go, guys...we love the energy and we love you!

  47. CHEERS for massive nationwide student walkouts that call long-overdue attention to gun violence in the USA. These students realize that legislation in Fla. & other states for school safety are just inadequate & deceptive versions of gun madness long advocated by profiteering weapons industry corporations. If there is a deadly shooting the gun industry's perpetual solution isn’t fewer guns, it’s always more guns in the schools and on the streets that supposedly will stop shooters like the one in Las Vegas. Although the GOP is correct that there is a mental health care crisis in Florida & America, it’s a crisis they helped to create and aggravate by insisting on policies that do absolutely nothing to address mental health problems or establish effective weapons control.

    The dangerous GOP illusion here is that they have designed effective safety laws for school children. In reality, this shallow ‘school safety’ deception is useless because it will have virtually no impact on peoples ability to buy guns & assault type weapons. The real news is that the GOP has once again refused to take steps that might realistically help keep weapons out of the hands of killers. All weapons industry entities are very relieved that Gov. Scott & the GOP Florida legislature have taken such minimal steps. Fortunately, today's savvy students are aware that the latest GOP gun safety prescription is exactly like the quack doctor who’s Rx is aspirin to cure cancer.

  48. I suspect the GOP will be outraged and look for ways to punish these kids. Republicans are all for the rights and welfare of embryos, not so much for the child once he/she is born.

  49. The first amendment doesn’t have an age requirement.

  50. My daughter is a senior in high school. This week we received a message from her school that while the administration wants to support students’ rights, any student who participates in Wednesday’s walk out will be marked absent and unexcused. They’re trying to say it’s “for the students’ safety” that they are discouraging the walkout and because it isn’t a “school sanctioned” activity. I don’t think any of their excuses for why students shouldn’t walk out are valid. If my daughter does choose to walk out, I will support her 110%. I would rather see these kids, regardless of age, standing up for their rights, than continuing to be innocent bystanders in what has been happening in their schools and in this country.

  51. It’s called civil disobedience for a reason.

    I am a former middle school and high school principal. In that light I believe normal school penalties should apply. If students risk nothing their gesture means little.

    I am also a citizen of these United States. In that light I hope students walk out and don’t return until our elected representatives come to their senses, whether it takes a week or three years. Nothing else has worked to cure these adults of the sickness that is plain to any school child to see.

    I’m with the kids. It’s called civil DISOBEDIENCE for a reason.

  52. I taught fifth grade for ten years. Some of them are stunningly observant and can grasp issues like the need to eliminate military weapons from citizens. Others, not so much. But, I applaud the teacher for her passion.

  53. In this news saturated environment, it's never too young. America's present youth are more informed than any previous generation, exponentially aided of course by social media. It's their future, not ours. They deserve and should demand "seats at the table" and space in all the demonstrations.

  54. What commendable courage and boldness on behalf of these young students. If they are the future we are in good hands and not mere victims of apathy.

  55. As a high school teacher, I wholeheartedly support the activism of the children and teens participating in the walk out. While school shootings are statistically rare, they should never happen at all. Two decades of thoughts and prayers are empty words. The NRA is disproportionately powerful and does not represent the majority of Americans who want stricter gun control laws. The kids are acting because the adults in power have failed them. We should be proud of them and follow their lead.

  56. Another cost of an insane firearms policy that is borne by the US. No other nation's students and teachers spend valuable time away from their education mission, managing gun protests, preventing protests, assigning staff to deal with gun messaging, security, armed staff, active shooter drills and so on. Although relatively few have to bear the immense pain of death and physical or mental injury from school shooters, the academic experience of nearly every American student and teacher is diminished by the burden of a nation swimming in an unregulated sea of firearms.

  57. How young is too young to mislead kids? Don't get me wrong. I'm *for* a near-total ban of semi-automatic firearms (which I think is consistent with the 2nd Amendment). But the Times (and others') coverage of the school shooting issue is devoid of context ans so intellectually dishonest.
    School shooting are *incredibly* rare. Students and staff are already very safe from them, even in recent years. The annual number killed *and* injured by guns in schools in the 5-1/4 years from Sandy Hook thru Parkland, including Sandy Hook, is about:
    28 - students (K-12)
    5 - staff
    (I used Time magazine's recent detailed count to derive these rates, since gun control advocates' numbers, i.e., Everytown for Gun Safety's, have been been shown to be inaccurate; see http://time.com/5168272/how-many-school-shootings/ .) In comparison, for a recent year in this period (2014), the number of 5-to-14-year-olds *killed* -- one can't fold in high-schoolers because the next age-group is 15-24) was as follows: 1,480 - transportation accidents; 597 - non-transport accidents; 428 - suicide; 279 - homicide (173 by firearms); 41 - drug induced; 54 - flu; 45 - pneumonia. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr65/nvsr65_04.pdf
    A school kid is more than 100 times more likely to be killed in other ways, and more than 50 times more likely to be killed in a vehicular accident. Suicide, guns *not* in schools, drugs and drowning, flu, and even sports, *each* kills way more students than school shootings.

  58. Dennis -- are you unable to add?

    Adam Lanza killed 20 students (all young children), six adults and himself at Sandy Hook.

    Jacob Cruz killed thirteen students at Marjorie Stoneman in Parkland.

    Gee, that adds to 33, not counting the other major school massacres.

    http://time.com/5168272/how-many-school-shootings/

    analyzes the Everytown list with stricter criteria and says "we found that 63 {events} met this definition. The remaining 23 mainly involved gunfire exchanged at night in a school parking lot between people who were not affiliated with the school. Here is the complete list of those 63 school shootings, starting with Sandy Hook, ordered by the number of people killed.

    ...

    All told, since 2013 we counted 6 adults and 35 children killed in these types of school shootings, as well as 12 adults and 92 children injured."

    And then something more fundamental: we require children to be schooled, by law.

    Every one of those other ways that children die in or associated with school generates public liability, outrage, and a strong determination to alleviate the causes. School sports are voluntary, and comes with known risk. See:

    http://www.youthsportssafetyalliance.org/sites/default/files/docs/Statis...

    Almost all deaths in school sports are sudden cardiac arrest, almost all of which are lethal, and that (voluntarily assumed) death rate appears comparable to school massacres.

  59. Saul and Hartocollis write that "some parents... worried that the protests are stoking the fears of young children about a threat that remains uncommon."

    Uncommon? Seriously? Twenty kids dead in Newtown, seventeen kids dead in Florida. These school shootings are horribly common. Apparently these Times reporters are way behind the news.

    These kids are old enough to be murdered, they're old enough to drill about how to act when a mass murderer is on the loose. So, yes, they're old enough to be scared and outraged.

    How very sad that right-wing Republicans still can't be bothered to protect them.

  60. Our daughter's school has decided to honor walkouts with a note from a parent.

  61. If they really expect to accomplish anything -- banning assault weapons for starters --they need to do more than just walk out for a couple of hours. Students across the nation should go on strike and refuse to return to classrooms until they are made safer (and that doesn't mean turning Mrs. Grundy into a guntoter). Two or three weeks of having their children moping around the house and fiddling with video games would get parents off the dime and they, in turn, would light a fire under the politicians.

  62. How many children have I seen dragged along to right to life protests, used solely to guilt trip women attempting to enter buildings for TOP procedures? Does anyone think they had a choice to be there, go along? Suddenly, when a child (we used to call these children young adults), forms an opinion, has a plan, we suddenly have to clamp down on them as though they don't know their own mind. If you want children to grow up and be responsible, contributing adults then stop babying them like they can't think until they are 18-or 21. These young adults are probably going to be the ONLY people who will bring sense to this American madness with guns. Let them go, let them make a stand and let them teach us adults how to get things done. We adults have no good sense, let them take over for awhile.

  63. Too young?

    I was given my first firearm at age 6, a singe shot .410 shotgun. I think if you are old enough to be trusted with a firearm, you should be old enough to protest. Never had a negative incident with a firearm in the last 55 years.
    Jeez, what a bunch of snowflakes, worried if children can make up their own minds or not.

    And, I will be joining my high school students tomorrow in protest of our ridiculously lax gun laws. I think a 10 round magazine limit is a good start as well as universal background checks and a robust waiting period.

  64. Protests against the NRA should begin now at every age: from infancy to old age and we must act now! We must protest on every street corner, in every school, at every government building. We must act. Our very lives depend on getting these unauthorized guns off the streets and out of our homes!

  65. I hope none of these students face any form of punishment.

    The gun violence has become a national issue which is long overdue and they are only trying to make the grownups act like grownups and pass legislation that may protect them.

    The gun infatuation in this country has gotten out of hand and it needs to become an issue for the 2018 election.

    So again no punishment and good luck with this protest.

  66. Dead American kids aren’t enough of a motivation to make adults Americans act. Perhaps an indefinite walkout nationwide would provide impetus. 17 minute gesture won’t move the dial. American kids need to fight for the right to live in a non-militarized society, like their international peers who get to go to school each day free of the worry of being shot dead and don’t have to carry their books in a Kevlar backpack.

  67. My 13 year old niece's school has worked with student leaders to develop a plan that allows students to walk out, but remain on school property. Those who leave the school grounds and don't return after 17 minutes will be marked absent. The principal sent out an email to parents explaining the deliberations that went into the decision and the necessity of balancing first amendment considerations with safety issues for the students (pointing out that the school is responsible for the students' safety even during the walkout). I discussed it with my niece, who was very aware of the issues from discussions with her friends. We also discussed the need for those who walk out to be considerate of those who don't, as their remaining in class is also an example of them exercising their rights and there is a need to allow all points of view. I think this latter topic should also be emphasized so the "walkers" and the "stayers" don't create a situation where our schools are as polarized as the rest of the country.

  68. "How young is too young for protest." Maybe my kids were advanced, but they were protesting well before turning two years old. And I heard them clearly.

  69. Anything can can be sensitively explained to a child, and already has. The youngest Sandy Hook victim was 6. Admittedly, not everyone in the position to provide that explanation feels capable or is. However, children and parents have the right to decide if they would like to participate in a demonstration that, ‘honors the students who died at MSD High School and supports safety in schools.’

  70. One is never to young or too old to protest. And when it comes to protesting the non-existent gun laws in our country it is the duty of All citizens young and old to protest—and loudly in order to save lives.

  71. Give every student a pass on this important day. Afford them nothing less. They are fighting for their lives.

  72. I'm part of a group planning ways to improve security for our church nursery school--25 or so preschoolers in a wing of our church building, mornings.
    We're not considering arming our teachers.
    Accepted strategies like Run, Hide, Fight, are simply useless with preschoolers, according to our local police resource, and there won't be any armed guard on duty wandering around our church every morning.
    But we'll spend real dollars on security for our kids, that would have been unthinkable, laughable, until 1994, when the ban on assault weapons was lifted by then president Bush 2.
    This is insanity, and if it takes little kids marching with posters to get our corrupt political leadership to begin to correct their failure in the most basic function of government, then I'll march with them.
    Our kids will be safe in school only when everybody is safe everywhere in this country, in theaters, churches, outdoor concerts, night clubs, military bases, street corners.

  73. Your preschoolers are many, many times more likely to be killed by transportation accidents and by pneumonia and flu than by a school shooter. You would be statistically far more likely to save lives if you saw to it that they were all up on their immunizations, particularly flu, and safe in their car and pedestrian travels.

  74. Kids are aware and smart. This protest was their idea, and I think it's great that they are being citizens, exercising their first amendment rights, and taking a stand on an important question in America.. Good for them! If only "grownups" were more politically committed and engaged as well, and focused on the basic issue that these kids are standing up for; life over guns.

  75. Since all children in the U.S. are now potential targets, no one is any longer “too young”. Any gun owners who think that their own children cannot also be targets are terribly mistaken. Sad, isn’t it?

  76. The chances that a child's school will be attacked in this way are vanishingly small. School kids are at least 50 times more likely to be killed in a transportation accident, and many times more likely to be killed by a gun *outside* of school, and way more likely to be killed while participating in sports or from having contracted pneumonia or flu, particularly if not vaccinated. See my detailed, referenced post explaining this.

  77. if they are old enough to have to do active shooter drills or be shot in a school, they are old enough to protest

  78. My son's middle school is allowing students who wish to demonstrate to walk a supervised lap around the school building for the 17 minutes, while other staff will remain inside with any students who choose not to participate. My son was relieved that he didn't have to choose between speaking out and sanctions from the school.

  79. How young is too young to be killed?

  80. How young is to young to be scared to die?

  81. The answer is to work at telling them the truth that they *should not be scared to die* in this way. They should be helped to understand that the chances their school will be attacked are vanishingly small, that they are at least 50 times more likely to be killed in a transportation accident, and many times more likely to be killed by a gun *outside* of school, and way more likely to be killed while participating in sports or from having contracted pneumonia or flu, particularly if not vaccinated. See my detailed post explaining this.

  82. Idiots, raised by idiots, without a clue about what they're talking about. Too much emotion, no logic.

  83. Done with assault rifles: They have killed enough! Abolish the NRA! This is not a country owned by mini gun slingers. This is a country of many who want to walk freely and know we and our children are safe from their army.

  84. It is time for massive US protests against the corrupt NRA: against the unimaginable number of deaths of our children, the dreaded fear of attending any public gathering and the wanton erosion of freedom to move around the country or even your neighborhood as imposed by this outrageously mini militant SS group of crazed Gun slingers holding America for hostage.

  85. The question should not be "how young is too young to protest" but "how young is too young to be shot to death in your school because politicians prefer protecting their deep pockets NRA masters instead of children"! What does it say about our country and its people that our government has been so castrated by the NRA that our children are required to stand up to defend themselves against gun violence?

  86. These brave children. Old enough to train for when a gunman, and it is always a man, with a weapon of war comes to their school to kill as many of them as possible as quickly as possible. Definitely old enough to demand change, to end the NRA, to make this country a place where their lives matter more than guns. Guns are a plague. End the murder of children at their schools.

  87. Far more children -- hundreds of times more children -- are killed in their school years by causes other than murder, and they have a right to know this fact, also. They should be helped to understand that the chances their school will be attacked by gunfire are vanishingly small, that they are at least 50 times more likely to be killed in a transportation accident, and many times more likely to be killed by a gun *outside* of school, and way more likely to be killed while participating in sports or from having contracted pneumonia or flu, particularly if not vaccinated. See my detailed post explaining this.

  88. 85 of every 100 kids shot dead in the first world are American kids. It’s time the younger generation led us away from this sick and deadly fascination with guns and the burden it places on society to militarize and fortify. Guns have no place in civilian life. The rest of the world sees this, it’s time to end the needless suffering.

  89. My generation did duck and cover. I remember 2nd-grade very clearly -- we went through a drill where all the students assembled on the playground, went to a teacher who was responsible for students who lived in a particular area, and then most of us walked to a point near our homes, where we were met by parents -- all as a drill as to what we would do when the nuclear war started.

    I lived about a half-mile from school; I was already walking that daily without a parent. But some of the kids at my school lived several miles away. They weren't walked home -- they were just marched around the block a few times and back to the school.

    As a 2nd-grader this troubled me badly; I could see they had no real plan for those kids, and I was also aware enough to see that my parents had nothing that would protect against these bombs ... why walk home?

    Nuclear war didn't happen. But these school massacres do happen. And nothing our politicians are willing to do is more effective than the idiot duck & cover and walk-home drills of the 50s.

    It's a tragedy that American school kids die for a hobby, and even worse that those hobbyists get away with calling it "the price of freedom."

    Guns and gun-fetish have become the Moloch ... to which we sacrifice children.

  90. if you can be shot at school, you have the right to protest. and as Newtown demonstrated, that means as young as 4 year old babies. how sick is that?

  91. All students who understand that their school could be attacked a gunman are old enough to protest.

  92. They should also be helped to understand that the chances their school will be attacked are vanishingly small, that they are at least 50 times more likely to be killed in a transportation accident, and many times more likely to be killed by a gun *outside* of school, and way more likely to be killed while participating in sports or from having contracted pneumonia or flu, particularly if not vaccinated. See my detailed post explaining this.

  93. And again, just because the chance is small means they should be okay with it?

    Why not try and make that chance 0?

  94. How young is to young? How young have they been killed in schools? How young have they been killed in war zones? How young did madlady albright say was worth it? She claimed that 500,000 people dead was worth it. What will it take to make the congress critters take a stand?

    These kids are going to vote one day and they will remember what you say and do. So do the right thing, or get voted out.

  95. Bravo to all the students and shame on Julie Gunlock.

  96. Thanks to our gutless, pandering to the NRA POTUS and his coterie of vile Republican ghouls in the House and Senate, these dear children will continue to be the targets of gun nuts and the NRA.

  97. Too young to protest but not too young to be shot in their classrooms. Disgusting. Where are the so-called adults? All employed by the murderers at the NRA

  98. be consistent, you and school systems would have to at least as supportive of walkouts protesting, among other things, youth deaths in vehicular accidents, on bicycles, on foot, by drugs, by suicide, by guns *outside* of schools, in sports, by pneumonia, and by flu, *each* of which kills way more students than school shootings. A school kid is way more than 50 times more likely to be killed in a transportation accident than in a school shooting, for example. See my detailed post in the comments.

  99. Schools routinely set aside time for assemblies or in the classrooms, to cover information regarding wearing seat belts and bike helmets, a walk to school week, to resist drugs (Just Say NO!), as well as suicide prevention, so why not 17 minutes for gun control?

  100. Lets hope the little ones feel empowered before they grow up and learn the truth. Seeing kids protesting is cute, because of the invitee and innocence. I wonder how many of them will grow up and enjoy guns and feel embarrassed that they advocated for gun control.

  101. If your old enough to be injured or killed in a school shooting, then you are old enough to protest and express your grievances with a system that allows for shootings to occur.

  102. Americans want gun control like that of normal
    Countries. We want it now NOW before more of us die! We want the NRA gone -abolished. We want the guns collected NOW!

  103. Chicago is already a gun free zone!!! Its often the murder capital of the US. There is not one legal firearm in the city limits. How is that working in your city? Its a perfect example of how a gun ban does nothing to stop violent crime. The installation of cameras and prosecution of crime from the cameras did more for the South and West sides than anything in recent history. Take a trip to the West side and see how many guns you will see.

  104. Chicago is part of the USA and the USA is not a gun free zone. The USA is saturated with guns. Unless and until Chicago enforces restriction of weapons flow at city limits, your point has no merit. Chicagoans just have to drive to the state border to buy guns.

  105. NYS has the strongest guns law in the country and is ranked 3rd lowest in gun death rates (2015, Violence Policy Center). Glad to live here

  106. If they're old enough to be shot, then they are old enough to protest.

    Currently guns have more rights than six year old kids.

  107. If they are old enough to be shot in school, they are old enough to speak out about it.
    Also, children are protected by the Constitution just as adults are. I would be livid if my child's school didn't let her participate in a peaceful protest.

  108. So your argument is we should be okay with gun violence because other things kill more people?

  109. Actually there are about 33,000 deaths a year from firearms, and 33,000 deaths a year from motor vehicle accidents (depending on how you calculate them), so the risks are about the same.

    I think these kids could teach you a lot about how to debate. The first rule is, get your facts right. The second rule is, don't torture your statistics to make them fit your argument.

  110. Yes, and interestingly enough for all the other ways you mention we try to craft rational laws that try to prevent them. But for guns, try legislating a solution and you'd think people were trying to outlaw Christmas....

  111. 6 or 7 depending on the kid

  112. Slowly but surely they are going to learn to stop asking for permission. Then we will se consequential change.

  113. How young is too young to exercise First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and to peaceably assemble?

    Let’s encourage this political awareness and involvement by young people. A teachable, and maybe life-changing, moment.

    It’s discouraging to see the reluctance by some — esoecially schools — to this. It’s true: You’re either part of the solution, or part of the problem.

  114. Kids generally don't get to independent thinking until they are well into middle school. Fifth graders or younger are mostly just sounding out what the adults around them are saying, rather than opinions of their own on complex issues that would need lots of research and study (and not just listening to news on radio or tv or, God forbids, social media).

    It's not a bad thing for kids to have a sense of civil duties as a responsible citizens, and to become increasingly aware of what's happening around them in the nation and around the world. But young adults staging walkouts? It's mostly just opticals. They are not old enough to vote, hence no government officials would be much bothered by them. The Parkland massacre was different because the high school kids are coming of age, and they can become voters (or might already be eligible to vote) in 1-2 years' time. THAT's why politicians are listening, because they don't want a bunch of kids suddenly voting them out.

  115. Many of these kids will be voting in the next election. Bye bye Republicans!

  116. @SarahCullerton - Fifth graders won't be voting any time soon, nor will all those toddlers @ Sandyhook, but those @ Parkland will. That's why the Parkland shooting, and students' protest response feels so much more urgent to all the politicians, and even NRA.

  117. I am a parent of high school students in NYC. Chancellor Farina is barely tolerating the walk-out for remembrance and gun safety. Even with parental permission, people who participate in "...walking out for 17 minutes and returning to school will be considered cutting class, not an absence. Students will not face consequences beyond a notation in their student attendance record and a conversation with an administrator."

    Any principal who stops this 17 minute peaceful protest is complicit in the next shooting by accepting the rules of the NRA and by teaching children they are sitting ducks and they should just shut up and accept it.

    This has potential to be a great civics lesson, one of peaceful protest, of speaking up, to our next generation of voters. Shame on principals who are too myopic to see this. This includes you, Mr. Ciak. Open your eyes. Guns do not belong in schools and these kids are directly impacted by this. They are not protesting "basically anything," they are marching for 17 minutes to be heard fighting for their safety to be free from gun terror. This is a much greater lesson than anything taught in 17 minutes in the classroom.

    If students do not wish to participate, they can quietly sit in the classroom and read a book or do homework for the 1/2 hour. They, too, have a voice.

    We are heading down a horrible path, principals, and you are aiding and abetting. Wake up.

  118. This article is not about the mainstay of high school students walking out/protesting; but about the national call and plan for k-12 walk outs. In many district the elementary schools are planning walk out events.
    See title, "How young..."
    So, no that was not clear.

  119. @Maria — Then use it as a teaching moment! This is constitutional right. If we want a well-informed citizenry going forward, it is never too early to introduce kids to the foundations this country was built on, what they mean, and how they are used.

    If you don’t want your kid to participate, then opt out.

  120. powerful!

  121. Kids are NOT walking out- they are being directed out.
    At the elementary school level; this is parent/admin organized, directed, facilitated. Get real. Teach ins re. empathy, inclusion and safety are needed not walk outs.

  122. I’m guessing you don’t have kids. The children I know are self organizing, self motivated and very aware of the ramifications of their activism. If you were a parent, you would likely feel the same pride I feel, and hope for the future when I see young people finding their own voice in a country which clearly cares more about guns then children.

  123. Sarah,
    I'm a mother of 3 in public school, public interest lawyer defending and advocating for juveniles, former public school teacher and activist.
    No, kindergarteners are not self-organizing. They absolutely need adult guidance and supervision. Elementary school kids do not understand "the ramifications" much less teenaged kids.

  124. @Maria — No, they are not. Give kids a little more credit than that, please. Because of thevage of elementary school kids, adults are there to keep order — not indoctrinate.

    Kids are sick and tired of seeing their peers senselessly killed in a place where safety should be a given. They are fed up with the lip service they hear and the toadying they see from their “leaders.” They are taking a stand. I can’t be more impressed and proud.

    To quote David Bowie: “And these children that you spit on/As they try to change their worlds/Are immune from your consultations/They are quite aware of what they are going through.”

  125. My second grader fully understands the absolute stupidity of AR-15s in civilian hands and the bloody foolishness of the NRA.
    He now understands why he his class gathers silently, with lollipops to keep them quiet, in bathrooms and other spots, in his lovely little peaceful school, in Vermont, where many of us do not lock our doors and leave keys in the ignition.
    He does not yet know that an hour from us a kid is facing a whole lot of jail time for almost shooting up a high school.
    He's a kid in a country that is upside-down and inside-out. He knows why every adult needs to vote and why Trump is the worst President this country has ever experienced.

  126. So, it sounds like your child "fully understands" and agrees with your point of view- since you present "his opinions" as self-evident.
    And what of his state-wide peers - do they hold the opinions of their NRA supporting parents - highly represented in gun-friendly VT?

    That your 7 year old will parrot you is not movement- just more reinforcement of the same dichotomies in your state. Get ye to Montpelier.

  127. Gun friendly Vermont wants more gun regulations including our Republican governor due to school shootings. We like to hunt but we want our kids safe. No one needs an AR-15 to take down a deer, no one. We - myself and my community and my neighbors, and many of us have guns - are not fools. It is not guns or zero guns, it is the need for gun regulation, for keeping guns out of schools and here in Vermont, for stopping many suicides by guns as well as people driving here from MA and NY and buying guns with drugs and bringing them back to their heavily gun regulated states. Smart gun regulations - the antithesis of the NRA - is what is needed. And yes, my kids learn all about these facts.

  128. If they are old enough to be subjected to lockdown drills then they’re old enough to have something to say about it.

  129. “if we decide that we open this door, we open this door to allow students to basically walk out and protest anything.”

    I disagree, Mr Ciak.

    Young people are being asked to live in fear every day they go to school.

    Choosing to empower themselves with regard to this literal life and death matter is in their interest. There is no way any of us, who have not been involved in an actual mass shooting or combat, can ever internalize the madness and fear to which these young people were exposed.

    Rather than bolting the doors you and your fellow educators might try walking with them.

  130. No matter what the school officials say to keep you from walking out, you WALK OUT! This one little protest will boost your confidence for the rest of your lives. Don't let the establishment tell you what to do this time. Your lives and future are at stake. Go outside and show your faces to the world. My generation got civil rights passed and ended the Vietnam War. Make us old protesters proud of you. This is your time.

  131. How young is too young to protest gun violence? Hmmm...how young is too young to get shot in school before our legislators find the courage to stand up against the NRA and do something about restricting access to semi-automatic weapons?

  132. I hope these schools let kids protest abortion. Otherwise, this is just a government siding with one political party.

  133. If the 11 year old who wants to protest against gun violence makes the parent of the 8 year old concerned, the 11 year old has succeeded. It makes the mother uncomfortable and makes me uncomfortable but isn't that the point of protest? We insist children not run with scissors why should we be surprised when they insist we are responsible with firearms?

  134. Kids have no cause for protest. Us adults have done a marvelous job.

  135. Rewriting gun control legislation should have been at the top of US voters collective priorities (if not the first priority) for the 2016 US Presidential Candidate. We needed then and do now, an individual leading this country capable and courageous enough to make this happen. Obama and Biden were committed but did not have the support of the majority of their peers thanks to the NRAs power. Let's vote in elected officials from the President down through Congress who can craft solutions and implement them. We need the candidate AND the votes. I am hopeful about the votes thanks in large part to these kids. All we need is a brave 2020 Presidential candidate willing to follow through and a strong turnover in 2018. Please, all of us --parents and educators-- teach our kids the importance of well informed voting.

  136. Imagine how frightened your kids will be if a shooter enters the school, Ms. Gunlock. Our kids are used, alright. Unfortunately, they are used by the NRA.

  137. First graders were killed in Newtown by gun violence. I would say they have every right to protest.

  138. Our government run schools should only allow protests aimed at Republicans. It’s the government’s right to favor one party over another. We should also push for government funding of tv ads promoting liberal candidates. That’s is what these kids should learn. The schools need to require students to protest against Republicans on a weekly basis and ban as hate speech any comments critical of Democrats.

  139. If they are old enough to defend their right to live a peaceful existence, surely they are allowed to speak. The ones who cannot speak for themselves, like babies and disenfranchised, their champions will.

    If people have to ask this, something is very wrong with this country, especially the social regressive have been using a perverted form of the argument to fight against contraceptions. More perversely, these social reactionaries are probably the ally of NRA. Doubly wrong with this country.

  140. Anyone who is young enough to be the victim of a school shooting is young enough to protest. Kudos to all the brave children who are the future of our country.

  141. If the NRA and its gun-loving constituents want to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights, then let these students exercise their 1st Amendment rights.

  142. Children by their nature are generally without guile. Their clear and clean thinking is signaled by an honest expression such as a smile or wide-eyed inquiry. What begins to place a veil between their interest and a feeling they must protect themselves is the refusal of authority figures to introduce and articulate reasonable and equitable plans for proceeding.

    Examples are explaining classroom protocols such as syllabus, rubrics (what!?) and homework, feedback and exams. On the subject of peaceful assembly and free speech, there is no minimum age for these epressions. Custom and practices being what they are, it is not unusual for schools, for example, to require parental permission for certain activities.

    Outside of this custodial aspect of the school systems, activities outside of the auspices of curricular and extracurricular activities are really outside of their quasi-jurisdictions.

    However, the dialog is beyond such pedantic considerations. Young people are taking up subects of all kinds inide and outsde traditional meeting places, and some of these places, such as schoolyards, sports venues, movie theatres and even more casual meert-ups, are somewhat challenging implied permissions limiting speech and assembly, and others are completely outside the fences of authority and these instinctive demandings of freedoms are not only beautiful but resistant to suppression by any means.

  143. I am proud of the San Diego Unified School District which is sanctioning the walk-out. My high schooler and middle schooler are both participating -- in fact, it has become a part of the school day in both schools. Students may choose not to participate, but I am sure that most will wear black and orange and walk onto the playground with their classmates to make a statement for their right to live without needless fear and for the future. Certainly we parents understand that our children always face risk, but that risk should not include being gunned down at their school by depressed teenagers (or anyone else) with assault rifles. Thank you, children, for your beautiful voices of hope and protest.

  144. How young is too young to participate? Kindergarteners through fourth grade still have to practice "Code Red" drills and be herded into closets or bathrooms and be told to be perfectly still and quiet. You don't think that's scary? Certainly being able to attend or participate in a peaceful demonstration to fight against having to need Code Red in schools in the first place is not going to damage any little minds. Other than those of the parents who worry about the government taking all their guns...
    Come on, even small children are more aware of what's going on than some parents might think, and they deserve a chance to express themselves even if their parents disagree with the premise. Learning the pros and cons, and the facts, of an argument they're already in the midst of can only help.

  145. There should be no age limit for protest learning early will get them use to the fact protest is essential to the greater good.

  146. Not old enough to protest? Really! Let us remember that the kids at Sandy Hook weren't considered by the shooter to be too young to kill. The possibility of mass (and singular) shootings is now a part of the thread of the fabric of American life. We can't shield the kids, so we need to arm them with knowledge and educate them to the possibility of our government bending to the will of the MAJORITY of Americans who do have recommendations to keep us safe and still cede to those misinformed gun owners who think the "right to bear arms" cited by our forefathers means military weapons, unlimited ammunition and arsenals.

    How many children are we going to sacrifice at the altar of the NRA?

    School districts and parents should ALL be working to organize protests. The legislators are drunk on the power purified air of the hallows halls of Congress and their state legislative bodies. Wait until it is one of THEIR kids who is a victim.

    I keep hearing about gun advocates talking about the liberals' "war on guns". But that is juxtaposed. Guns are at war on American citizens of all ages. Time we start taking the teeth out of laws that protect us from killing machines.

  147. This is absurd. Grade-school students protesting? Are you kidding me? They're pawns and this whole feel good moment is opening a can off worms looking forward. Keep them in school learning. That's what schools are for.

  148. How young is too young to be shot in your school classroom?

  149. Lemme get this straight, zygotes and fetuses have Constitutional Rights, but children being shot at, killed, maimed and traumatized for life do not? Abusive husbands have a constitutional right to unlimited fire power through the second amendment, but children don't have a right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?

  150. This is tremendous not just as a popular moment but also as a learning opportunity, and every teacher and school administrator who is making it possible for their students to participate should be applauded. (And by the way it sounds like they are doing so with careful thought and planning.) Unfortunately, it's likely that politicians in the thrall of Wayne LaPierre will sneer at the protests of people who can't vote. Unless, that is, the protesters move their parents. Or do they reflect their parents?

  151. One of the benefits of the walkout is the empowerment of your youngsters to take a stand, be counted and to be conscious of issues which affect their lives. If the demonstration is peaceful and there is consideration for those who do not chose to walk, I say the decision of how young should be left to the parents.

  152. Utterly twisted logic. Too young to protest but not too young to see their friends brutally slaughtered? Expose children to danger but don't let them object to the situation? What can you all be thinking?? Get your priorities straight!

  153. Let me get this straight...the establishment believes our youth are too young to protest. The same youth that grew up in and are coming of age in the era of school shootings. The youth that must attend schools locked down like prisons least they’re murdered while siting in their classrooms. Give me a break!

    Today’s youth are overqualified for the job of protesting. They have too much experience with school shootings, with their classmates dying in front of them, with so called adults offering prayers and sincere condolences but not much else, and a government that refuses to enact common sense gun legislation.

    Let’s assist them and support them, not shut them down!

  154. These administrators and teachers are enabling and coordinating this effort. The example shows the rest of us how far left those who indoctrinate our children really are. MAGA.