LA parent voice: Student walkouts on gun control ‘show that we are tired of being afraid’
Esmeralda Fabián Romero | March 13, 2018
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Every week, we sit down with Los Angeles parents to talk about their students, their schools, and what questions or suggestions they have for their school district. (See our previous interviews.)
Students across the nation are ready to make their voices heard on Wednesday as they plan to walk out of their classrooms to honor the 17 lives lost last month in Parkland, Florida, and to demand stricter gun laws.
Parents are looking for ways to support their children but are wondering if participation at these demonstrations could cause trouble for their kids, or even if they can join the demonstrations.
Silvia García has two daughters at LA Unified’s Thomas Alva Edison Middle School in South LA. She said her daughters are too young to participate in a walkout demonstration, but she is encouraging them to express their own opinions about what makes them feel safe in school.
LA Unified has prepared a series of resources and activities for students to create a dialogue on the issue of school safety and to honor the 17 lives lost in Florida by participating in on-campus activities for 17 minutes. Vivian Ekchian, LA Unified’s interim superintendent, affirmed that “students have the right to freedom of speech, and they may participate in peaceful dialogue and activities on campus, within parameters set by their administrators. We ask that parents talk to their children and encourage them not to leave campus. Our goal is to provide students with opportunities to express themselves in a safe manner that respects the school environment and all perspectives.”
How are you encouraging your daughters to express themselves and to deal with the issue of gun violence in schools?
I think it’s very valuable that students have these demonstrations to show that we are tired of being afraid. We are always afraid that a tragedy like that one can happen in our children’s schools. Why do we have to wait to take action after something really bad happens and it’s already too late? We need to stop this now, and if there’s a possibility that student protests can change something, that’s great.
How has your school has been supporting your daughters and yourself in dealing with this issue?
We have a good team there that has been advising us on how to talk to our children. We have had several meetings on how to remain safe in school and what can we do in case of an emergency. The principal has been supporting us with a lot with information and making parents feel like they are prepared to protect our children. They are taking extra safety measures, and the principal has also provided us with telephone numbers we can call in case there’s a lockdown or if we feel anxious.
What do you think about the president’s proposal that some teachers could carry guns in class to protect the students?
I don’t agree with that idea because even when it’s to protect our kids, I think some teachers may also be vulnerable to suffering mental illnesses like depression. I personally know of a teacher that committed suicide, so how can we be sure that all teachers don’t have these kind of problems. I don’t think it’s a good idea.
Is there any other safety issue at your daughters’ school that you are concerned about?
Some parents have asked the principal about the possibility of having a security officer on campus because that would make us feel more at ease, but the principal has told us that the district only provides a security officer to schools that are located in a high violence area or where there is more gang activity or other safety problems.