We must champion the power of youth voices!


February 22, 2018

Everyone at CCC is heartbroken and outraged by the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. As child advocates, CCC believes all our nation’s children should benefit from basic rights to be healthy, housed, educated and safe. The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lays bare how our nation fails time and again to protect our children from domestic terrorism.

We know for many it is easy to feel helpless in moments like these; and yet, we also know that outrage can and must be turned into effective action. Local, state, and federal leaders must be called upon to fulfill their most basic of responsibilities – to keep children away from preventable harm. And we, as concerned community members, have a responsibility to wield our own power to demand action on gun control and to stop the ever-growing number of young lives tragically impacted by gun violence.

Registered voters can and must leverage power in the voting booth, to ensure that elected leaders who win or maintain seats at city halls, local councils, state houses, Congress, and the Presidency do so because they are prepared to enact laws that save lives and put children first. If you are interested in joining the national movement against gun violence, there are a number of activities planned right now and we encourage you to learn more about them and to participate.

At the same time, it is critical that we do everything possible to support and elevate the voices of young people who are brave enough to stand up and speak out. This includes ensuring that lawmakers give youth a seat at the table during policy discussions and create space for a new narrative about gun violence that includes the experiences of our youth.

The Parkland students who are heroically sharing their stories with the world have sounded a clarion call for action to prevent other children from suffering the horror that they have experienced. These youth – as well as youth here in NYC and around the nation – can and must play an instrumental role in holding elected leaders accountable. The strong conviction of Parkland students has in fact helped so many around the country find hope after such a dark and devastating tragedy.

Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said over the weekend, “[They say] that us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS. If you agree, register to vote. Contact your local congress people. Give them a piece of your mind.”

We agree, and we will. But our responsibility to Ms. Gonzalez and her peers is so much greater than that.

We must stand with youth and empower young people in ways that ensure they can lend their voices to the issues they feel most connected to. We can do this by ensuring that we work with youth to become registered and informed voters as soon as they can be. And long before they are able to vote, we must also amplify their voices, encourage them to speak out, and we must act as adult allies who nurture, protect, and partner with them in their burgeoning advocacy.

At CCC, we will continue to champion the power of youth voices through our YouthAction members who inspire and motivate us every day. We will continue to encourage youth to organize, advocate and mobilize — facilitating their efforts to call, write, meet with elected leaders, as well as engage the media, and ensuring that youth have the support and resources needed to testify at public hearings, participate in marches, rallies and other public events.

Together, we must raise our voices to help shape and achieve the future that all children and youth deserve.

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