Today's post was written by Kris Garst, European PTA Director of Membership and Communications
April 20, 2018 is the 19th anniversary of the tragic shooting at Columbine High School, and PTA advocates across the United States and Europe will be coming together today and wearing orange in honor of those lost and to send a message that we've had #Enough of the seemingly endless cycle of gun violence in our schools. After the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, I was reminded of a conversation that took place in the months following Columbine.
I was the leader of a summer reading group made up of 4th and 5th grade students, and while some of the initial media frenzy after the shootings had died down, it was still a hot topic on TV and radio news. During our book discussion time and completely out of the blue, one of the girls starting asking me some really tough questions:
I really wasn't sure what to tell her, because I had many of the same questions (to be honest, I was still young enough that a part of me was hoping that a "real" adult would come and explain it to me, too).
We ended up having an impromptu discussion of how the kids were feeling after the attack and how they thought we should fix the problem. They were frightened and still in shock that something this terrible could happen, and they desperately wanted to make it all make sense. Toward the end, one boy said with great confidence, "It's going to be okay. They won't let this happen again. They CAN'T let this happen again." The kids all finally agreed that the adults, the people in charge, would be able to keep them safe, because that was their job.
That was 19 years and far too many school shootings ago, and we're STILL asking the same tough questions. It's way past time that we step up and make some changes to keep these kids safe. We need to stop arguing over politics and special interests and work together for a change. We need to enact stricter gun laws. We need to increase funding for and access to mental health care in our schools and communities. We need to help our kids process the trauma of this cycle of violence and help them to feel (and BE) safe in their schools.
It's time for us to do our job.
You can learn more about National PTA's positions and efforts to eliminate gun violence at school via a recent press release at https://www.pta.org/docs/default-source/files/meetings/legcon/2018/resources/national-pta-press-release-on-gun-violence-prevention-efforts.pdf that contains links to National PTA resolutions, position statements, and current policy recommendations.
You can also read about the three gun safety and violence prevention bills that PTA successfully advocated for this March in Washington, DC at https://www.pta.org/docs/default-source/files/meetings/legcon/2018/resources/national-pta-hill-ask-one-pager-2018-final-version.pdf. All three bills were included in the omnibus appropriations bill that was signed into law on March 23rd!
If you'd like to purchase one of the special orange PTA tees pictured above, they're available via the online PTA store at http://www.shoppta.com/orangetee.
#Enough #EndGunViolence #NoMore