Yet another mass shooting tragedy tore at the soul of our nation. But this time the aftermath is different. Many students who survived the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida are vowing to make sure it never happens again. Can they succeed where so many others have failed?
“Every single person up here today, all these people, should be at home grieving,” Stoneman Douglas senior Emma Gonzalez said in a speech. “But instead we are up here, standing together because if all our government and president can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to seek.”
The brave speech by Gonzalez struck the conscience of the country and ignited the Never Again: March for Our Lives movement created by her and fellow students.
The teens took to the streets, the statehouse and anywhere people would listen—all this in between funerals for the 17 students and staff murdered at their school in Parkland, Florida. This is a healthy response, according to Dr. Randy Sconiers.
“At that age group, they’re very resilient, those kids that were talking out were very strong, they were tough, they were using that trauma and turning it into something that could actually help change,” Sconiers said. “And I call that transformational pain—when you experience pain then use it to change things in your environment.”
Teen actress Donshea Hopkins played the daughter of Ghost on the hit series “Power.” Her character Raina was gunned down outside school. She sees the debate over the Florida teens’ strong anti-gun stance as a positive.
“I think they’re doing an amazing job and they’re doing what they have to do. It’s like controversy causes action,” Hopkins said. “You can’t just set down and say ‘I don’t want this to happen anymore,’ you have to stand up and you have to try and make a change, you have to talk to your local politicians, you do have to go to Washington and talk to these really important people.”
For younger children, unavoidable images of the tragedy can be overwhelming and impossible to ignore. So the experts say that parents should encourage conversation.
“Be really careful about the information they share based on their age of the kids as well,” Sconiers said. “You don’t want to scare your kids but you want to educate them.”
“I let them know there’s people out there who try to do harm sometimes, here’s what to look out for, here’s what to do in these type of situations, here’s how to react, here’s how to respond,” said Patrick McCall, the CEO of McCall Risk Group and a father of four. “So that way they’re prepared, they’re not deer in the headlights, ‘Oh my god, what’s going on?'”
While the current generation of teens is sometimes seen as too passionate and unwilling to listen to adults, it could be their key to success as they take on the NRA, the White House, and anyone in their way, Sconiers said.
“Because they have those attitudes, they’re willing to go against the grain, and ‘If we have to, we’ll go against the adults who are not making changes,'” he said. “So that same thing that was considered the bad parts of this generation, we’re saying now this is actually the strength.”
FEATURED CAST: LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers
RANDY SCONIERS, DSW, LCSW, Clinical Therapist, New Steps Counseling https://twitter.com/NewStepsCounsel
DONSHEA HOPKINS, Actress and Artist https://twitter.com/DonsheaH
PATRICK MCCALL, CEO, McCall Risk Group, Security Consultant https://twitter.com/mccallriskgroup
DARRIN PORCHER, PHD, Former NYPD Lieutenant, Criminal Justice Professor, Security Consultant https://twitter.com/DrDarrinPorcher