Parkland Shooting Survivors Powerfully Utilize their Voices

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The students of Douglas High School’s powerful response to tragedy is not only calling for political change, but also changing the narrative of how young people utilize social media.


  Those falling into the Millennial and Generation Z age range are typically portrayed by the mainstream media as entitled and narcissistic individuals  who snack on Tide Pods in their spare time, while not otherwise busy taking ten zillion photos of themselves. Our much older critics were “young and dumb” before the technology even existed to permanently document their transgressions, and although teenage tobacco use and pregnancy rates are at an all-time low ,  today’s youth are often portrayed as the downfall of modern society.  As you can see in the quote below, this negative opinion in regards to youth has been a common theme for forever.


“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love to chatter in places of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, and tyrannize their teachers.”

Socrates (469-399 B.C.)


  That being said, criticism of the younger generation has been consistently portrayed within literature and media throughout history. However, the youth are the future. Many Generation Z teenagers and Millennial young adults are intelligent, hardworking, and passionate to create positive change. Furthermore, young adults are often times far more aware of societal, emotional and cultural issues than our older counterparts. We are not to be underestimated. A fantastic example of youths using their voice to make a difference are the hundreds of young students who survived the tragic mass shooting at Douglas High School in Florida.


 In wake of tragedy, these students have created a powerful movement by utilizing social media, personal testimonies, and their voices to advocate to put a stop these obscene acts of brutality. During the massacre, many students used their smartphones to document gruesome details of the shooting. Due to these videos, critical evidence was obtained and in addition the public was able to experience the reality of this horrifying act of violence in a very powerful way. 


 Students bravely reacted to this horrifying event both during, and after. For example, as seen in this video two quick thinking JROTC members heroically led their teachers and fellow students to classrooms in the midst of gunfire, and shielded them using pads made from the bullet proof material, Kevlar.  In this powerful speech, surviving student and activist Emma Gonzalez criticizes the Trump administration and the National Rifle Association and pleads for stricter gun control laws in response to the recent acts of terror and the loss of her 17 classmates. In addition, her fellow classmate Cameron Kasky was featured on CNN, also advocating for stricter gun control laws, and asking that lawmakers, “take action now.”


  In a time of such political and societal turmoil, there needs to be more open dialogue and Douglas High School students are rising to the occasion. Surely, these student’s political opinions vary across the board but most importantly they are advocating and creating much needed conversation. Many students have continued to speak their truth on social media platforms such as Twitter. These reflections have provided the public with touching insight from those who witnessed the brutality firsthand.  Such as accounts from those who hid in dark closets for hours in the midst of gunfire, fearing for their lives. By speaking out, these “Generation Z” Douglas High School students have made this atrocity less of a horrifying statistic, and more of a horrifying reality. Their words have provided us with candid and tragic glimpses of an altogether terrorizing situation, and have made a powerful call to action.  



To the students of Stoneman Douglas High School, thank you for your courage, and most of all for your voices.


“The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.”

-Nelson Mandela

About The Author

“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.” -Emily Dickinson

Instagram: @ari.swean
Twitter: @AriSwean

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