Though I now live in Parkland and attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas, this past Valentine’s Day was not the first time that I was exposed to gun violence. I grew up in the city of Lauderhill where gun homicide rates often fluctuate. There I heard my first gunshots when a police officer was shot right outside of my neighborhood. When thinking back to those events, and relating them back to what happened at my school, I came to a few conclusions:
We grow to be very angry during our years of youth. Whether that’s a result of racism, bullying, parental neglect, stress relating to academics, peer neglect, jealousy, conflicted sexual identity, depression, being poor in a consumerist society or the inherent ignorance of the world around us; Each generation has faced its own set of challenges that revolve around similar matters.
But what’s so different about mine? How big is the generational gap between my generation and my parents’? Why are my peers slaughtering each other? Why have I become accustomed to seeing girls with slit marks on their wrists since the 6th grade? How did school shootings and suicide become trends of my generation? Why are some kids more motivated to sell drugs or naked pictures of themselves than they are to pursue their high school diploma? Is it the music we listen to? Is it what we’re exposed to in film or social media? Though a lot of the time those things listed serve as great motivators to harm oneself or others, there is one main common denominator other than “the gun”: what our parents/teachers DON’T teach us—Conflict resolution. If a generational gap exists, OUR PARENTS ARE THE GENERATIONAL GAP!
From the moment that we’re born to adulthood, we spend decades metamorphosing into our parents’ image. The blame doesn’t completely shift toward prior generations though. People of my generation don’t openly communicate with their parents/guardians. However, in many cases, kids cannot.
For example: Many children are brought up in excruciatingly strict homes (whether that’s due to religion or tradition) where they can’t even whisper a curse word without
judgement, much less come forward about being sexually attracted to the same gender. On the
contrary, many kids have parents who are either dead, incarcerated, addicted to a substance, or
too absorbed by their own problems to care about their child’s.
They release by harming themselves or others. Whether that’s by using drugs, cutting, exposing themselves to harmful images and messages online, fighting, damaging other people’s property, or ending their lives/the lives of others; the result is always the same—young lives are cut short due to a problem that hasn’t been discussed as much as gun control or ‘voting’, yet is equally as important.
Teaching the youth how to resolve conflicts without the use of fists or bullets is a given
necessity; whether that’s an internal conflict, or an external conflict with another person.
Many people of my generation simply don’t have a sense of hope or an IDEA of what they want to craft their own lives into over the next several decades; which, in their minds, creates a void of meaning to their life. So how could one value another life without first valuing their own?
We’re all raised to abide by this system, and as soon as someone shows signs of having a
mindset that doesn’t completely align with that system (such as not wanting to attend college),
they’re forced to believe that they aren’t going to succeed in life. Parents and teachers need to
show their children that OPTIONS (that aren’t necessarily commonplace) exist, and that
happiness can always be achieved, no matter the circumstance or conflict.