The day after 20 innocent children were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., CEO and father-of-two, David Bennahum logged onto Facebook and began a movement dubbed The Million Kids March, calling for the youth of America to gather in Washington, D.C. in support of stricter gun laws and safer schools. So why are some parents in an uproar over this peaceful demonstration?
The idea is simple: “A million kids on the Mall. A million kids advocating for safe schools across America. Coming together in one great day. Who could say no to that?”
As it turns out, many parents and child psychologists are saying no.
Touted by the website as “an extraordinary teaching moment” for children to learn about the power of peaceful assembly and collective action, the Million Kids March has gathered just as many critics as it has supporters since Bennahum first introduced his idea on Facebook.
Their issue? Though they undoubtedly support the cause, with no minimum age for participation in the march, some worry that the topic itself is too delicate; especially given the timing, following such a traumatic event like the mass shooting in Newtown.
“I think parents should understand, firstly, what their motive is,” says Richard Shadick, an associate professor of psychology at Pace University. “Is this an opportunity to educate their child on a very important issue, or is this more along the lines of parents interested in pushing forward their own agenda?
“It could cut both ways,” adds Shadick. “It could be [a] very educational and moving experience, or it could be threatening and confusing for children.”
Shadick and other mental health professionals caution that some children — regardless of age — shouldn’t participate in the February 17 event (tentative date). That includes kids or teens with anxiety problems or any other pre-existing mental health issues that impact their daily functioning.
Essentially, parents should consider their children’s developmental level when deciding if it’s appropriate for them to participate in the march and how to approach it.
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Words by Shayla C. Perry
Source/Photos: The Huffington Post