What Good are Student Demonstrations? …by ARHuelsenbeck

On National Walk-Out Day this past Tuesday, students at thousands of American high schools left their classrooms at 10:00 a.m. to protest against gun violence such as the attack at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last month that resulted in seventeen deaths. One comment I heard about the walk-out was, “What good do demonstrations accomplish?”

Empty classroom feliphe-schiarolli-445578-unsplash

Students are virtually powerless. Most of the protesters are too young to vote. But their eloquence and their unwillingness to accept the status quo could help sustain attention on the issue of gun violence and the need for our society to come up with a feasible solution.

I don’t know if stricter laws are the answer. People who are determined to do evil don’t respect the law; they find ways to circumvent it.

I think what we really need in our society is more concern for others. Love should be taught by parents starting from their children’s infancy. Quality mental health care should be more readily available. Clearly, the Florida shooter was a deeply disturbed young man. But enough of my theories.

Getting back to our original question, if students can continue to challenge the national stagnancy on gun violence, I believe they may be able to influence significant change.


I read a scripture verse this morning that encouraged me in this regard. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12 NIV).”

These words were written by the apostle Paul to Timothy, whom he appointed leader of the Christian church in Ephesus. Scholars approximate Timothy’s age at around thirty, unusually young for such a high level of authority in a culture that respected the experience and wisdom of the aged. Paul’s advice to Timothy was to be above reproach in his behavior.

My counsel to young people who desire to effect change:

  • Keep speaking out. Don’t give up.
  • Act with integrity. Your good behavior validates your message.

Do you think young people can bring about a paradigm shift in our culture of violence? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.
This entry was posted in America, Gun violence, Hope, National Walk-Out Day, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to What Good are Student Demonstrations? …by ARHuelsenbeck

  1. I’m not sure. I think if it had truly been student-led, perhaps it could create change, but I believe it was politically-led. Look at what happened at a district in California where the protesters damaged property and assaulted the police. And the district that didn’t allow a student to carry his pro-2nd amendment sign who was threatened with being arrested. And students who were persecuted for choosing not to walk out. This is such a politically charged issue, and I sure don’t claim to have the answers. I think if students were educated (those students featured in news clips did not know what gun laws were actually in effect in their states), then maybe they could be a force for change. I think the bigger change needed, though, is one you mention. Love. Every single school shooter has been a victim of perpetual bullying. So, while the students say gun violence is the issue, I tend to think there is a lot more to it. Thank you for sharing the verse about Timothy. It does give one hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andrea R Huelsenbeck says:

      I didn’t see the coverage of the incidents you mentioned. The clips I did see were of students very articulately speaking about their friends who were shot, of their fear that violence will continue, and of their weariness that nothing has been done.
      I agree that the issue is complex. One small shift in gun regulations won’t do much to help. We need a change of heart. Thanks for your comments, Diane.


  2. Yes, I believe in young people’s powers. I have seen and experienced the biggest students movement in Indonesia, my home country, that brought down Soeharto’s dictatorship regime. It was the students against the military, and we, the students, won. Indonesia is now one of the largest democracy on earth. Actually, our last presidential election has more voters compared to the U.S. I don’t think the current students’ movement against the gun violence in the U.S. was politically led. I watched the way their speech and their passionate discussion, it reminds me a lot how we reacted about the Soeharto’s regime in the past. I hope they keep maintaining the solidarity among the students so it won’t stop here. Guns issue in the U.S. is a complex issue. It’s not just cultural matter but also involved lots of money – I guess it could begin from the young generation to change it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. slfinnell says:

    I hear a lot about putting prayer back in school. Personally I do believe that but I also feel we have been given so much in this information age that we don’t know what to do with. It’s only been in the last 25 years that we can hear news so instantly, not to mention the social media explosion. We didn’t have that as children. So how are we to know exactly how to show our children to use it in the best ways? How not to get sucked in to violent thinking and reacting? Just my thoughts. I hope the next generation can cause huge change.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andrea R Huelsenbeck says:

      I think parents and people who have connections to children and teenagers need to model responsible behavior. Kids need to see us navigate difficult situations, to see us respectfully communicate dissatisfaction and hurt.
      I think prayer or at least moments of silent meditation could be allowed in school (though I would hate to see legislation that would mandate the form prayer could take), but parents have the major responsibility for their offsprings’ spiritual development. If young people never hear prayer except in some stilted, politically correct, inclusive manner, it’s not really instructive.
      I agree that social media and news reporting shape attitudes and highlight violence. Media could promote a culture of kindness if they tried.
      Thanks so much for your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

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