The massacre in Parkland, Florida, that resulted in the death of 17 students and school employees began a nationwide conversation on school safety. Students are participating in walkouts and marches demanding change.
Read comments written by some of the students who participated in the Deseret News event "Beyond the March" in Salt Lake City on Tuesday. We organized the forum to help students see past the sometimes deafening discourse and look for progress beyond protest. These thoughts represent a part of the crucial conversations students are beginning to have.
Don't discredit our voice
The issue of school safety has become too large for us to sit back and watch. It is a time when action isn’t just wanted, but needed. My peers also need to know that their opinions are valid, and no adult has the right to discredit what we believe regarding our own safety.
When we are the ones being affected by the decisions of those older than us, we are allowed to speak. They cannot say that our voice is less valuable or knowledgeable because it is only coming from a place of emotion, when that emotion is fear.
Bountiful High School
Safety starts with me
School safety begins with each and every one of us. It’s not just about reporting suspicious activity, but it includes getting to know one another well, building strong families and communities, looking out for each other and always choosing kindness. As a school and community, it is crucial for us to be united, not divided. Real change that impacts all of us won’t necessarily come from legislation, but rather from our homes and the common ground we will find from working together to build a safe environment. I know that I need to start with myself, to set the expectation for our generation to make a change.
Orem High School
Important to vote
The one thing that was most noticeable to me upon leaving the forum on Monday was that each of us had differing views on what we felt were the most important steps to combating the issue at hand.
What we all agreed on, however, was that things can not be allowed to continue as they are anymore; the status quo is no longer acceptable. This movement regarding gun violence and school safety is being led by the youth in an unprecedented manner because our schools are our homes and we want to feel safe in them.
Although we may be divided when it comes to which actions should be prioritized, we are united in this cause because it is our cause. Right now it is more important than ever that young people are voting. The inaction of those currently in power proves that we must exercise our rights and place only those in office who are going to stand up for the lives of the youth, with the youth.
Highland High School
Know the final result
I would like my peers and the adults to know that to solve this ongoing problem, we must cut it off at the source. It is more important to know why people do what they do, rather than prevent or control the situation. To destroy school violence, you must first put yourself into the shoes of the shooter in order to solve the problem.
The event expounded on how to create a plan of action, rather than focusing on just the idea of change. It's very important to know the final result you're searching for. Speaking up and voicing your opinion is helpful, but it is critical to know the target you're trying to hit.
American Fork High School
We will be all right
The biggest take-away I had from the event is that we are going to be all right. This nation, the American government and especially the American people are going to be OK.
I was able to meet with 40 kids from across the state who took time from their own lives to try and make a difference in the world. Although we inevitably had different opinions, I saw a group of teenagers set aside those differences for the common goal of progress. I want the world to know that my generation is going to change it for the better.
I think the biggest upcoming challenge my generation faces is informing themselves. Change cannot be brought about without proper knowledge of our world, but the more proper information we can use, the more powerful my generation will become. I think that schools should be the safest environment for my peers, and this starts with us. My peers and I need to be the active change we want to see in our schools. I encourage my peers to find those people at school who just need a person to talk to or a hand to help them up when they are down. The world can be changed one friend at a time.
Bountiful High School
Work as one
I would like students to know that their voices and their opinions are being heard. I think it's ironic that decisions which explicitly affect youth and young generations are being made by adults and older generations. I would also like my peers to know that there are outlets for them to be heard. I would like the adults to know that we as a younger generation want to work together to overcome this challenge. A divide between affected and nonaffected has already formed. I hope we can work as one effective body to come to the safest and most effective result possible. Lastly, I would like adults to know that we need help, and we will not stand idle in front of a challenge that affects us directly.
Highland High School
Strive to make a difference
Many teens today strive to make an impact on the world, but they don’t see how to. Now is a huge opportunity to show them that they can make an impact in anything they do. We can’t ask someone to change a policy if we never directly tell them, so each and every teen should know that they matter and that they can make a difference just by speaking up.
Something the adults need to work on is being aware and getting involved. Now more than ever we have teenagers at the root of this movement, but we can’t do it alone. The majority of teenagers can’t vote or try to reform gun laws, but adults can. If they simply look for how to help, that can go a long way. By really striving to make a difference, both teens and adults can prevent school shootings and save lives rather than making them become just another statistic.
Bountiful High School
We care for everyone
I want my peers to know that there are people pulling for them. No matter who they are, what they look like, what their religious beliefs are or their sexual orientations, humanity still cares for them. Even if they aren’t involved or don’t care about the movement going on in the world right now, they have a place and people looking out for them. We appreciate all the good things the adults have done for our world. We recognize that many of the great things in it are because of them, and we just want to better the legacy they have left for us in any way that we can.
Bountiful High School
Influencers for good
This was an amazing opportunity I was able to participate in. I was able to learn many new ways to help others succeed. One of the main things that stuck out to me was something that Joseph Grenny said: “Make the bad stuff harder to do and the good stuff easier.” It made me realize that a lot of people these days focus on the negative when we really should be finding the positive in everything. Joseph Grenny also said, “Help them love what they hate.” I feel that if we are able to do this, then many people's lives will be saved. We need to help be the influencer for the good in people's lives, not the other way around.
Skyridge High School
We just want to be safe
We want everybody to be a part of this movement — even if they aren't normally interested in politics, and even if they don't agree with every one of our school safety strategies. We want this movement to be a conversation, and we want to hear their voices. We all just want to be safe at school.
We need the support of adults, and we need them to listen when their children say they don't feel safe at school. Many of us cannot vote yet, and we need our parents to fight for us at the polls. School safety, and safety from gun violence in general, should be at the top of our parents' minds when they cast their votes.
West High School
Recognize those who serve21 comments on this story
Student leaders are going to do their best to improve things at their schools. Gun legislation may or may not change, but the environments at our school can change by making good things easier to do and bad things harder to do. We need to start recognizing those who serve our schools and seek for ways to better the lives around us. We can’t give attention to any negative acts of our peers. If we all strive to have this mentality, we can make our schools a safer place.
Mountain View High School