“Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation.” (Nelson Mandela)
It was an ugly dose of reality to come home and see posts on my Facebook feed from friends/family members referring to the youth behind #MarchForOurLives as “immature” or saying they need to grow up.
The “kids should just be kids” argument does not hold when these young people are forced to experience adult-like trauma that no one should endure.
Traumatic childhood experiences (like witnessing or being victims of gun violence) affect their brains – changing how they respond to stress and damaging their immune systems so profoundly that they continue to suffer the effects even decades later in adulthood.
They march, not because they want to be treated as adults, but because they want to be valued as humans who are deserving of life, protection, and peace – regardless of age.
Though their empowerment and speaking of truth to power might not seem courageous to some of you who hide behind a privacy-protected Facebook post, I will tell you – from the time I’ve spent listening to and working with youth – they are some of the most brilliant, empathetic, and thoughtful individuals you will ever be privileged to encounter.
Whether or not you agree with their opinions or think they deserve to be heard, at least admit that they deserve better. #NeverAgain