Teenagers across the globe are taking action into their own hands by organising large-scale protests in Europe and the States against two very important issues: climate change and gun violence. But protesting is not a new phenomenon, today’s young activists are vocal on matters in ways that do not require them to vote since many are, in fact, too young to vote.
Thousands of teens marched through the streets of London, Brussels, and Berlin in early 2019 as part of a large scale effort to demand government action on global warming. Skipping school lessons in favour of attending demonstrations, young supporters have gained international attention for their dedication to changing laws around climate change. A standout of the movement is 16 year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden, who has been very critical of political inaction: “I think enough people have realised just how absurd the situation is. We are in the middle of the biggest crisis in human history and basically nothing is being done to prevent it”. Her protests outside Sweden’s parliament quickly led others to follow in her footsteps, helping ignite a worldwide phenomenon with hopes of pressuring European lawmakers into agreeing on more effective climate regulations.
Across the Atlantic, American students have also protested their government’s inaction. With 2018 being a tumultuous year for violence in schools, teenagers from Florida organised March for Our Lives, a nationwide walkout demanding action from Congress to strengthen gun laws. Their persistence and advocacy paid off, as dozens of states have passed additional regulations since 2018.
As with climate change, the debate on school safety is far from over and protests continue. However, millennials and Gen Z supporters around the world have helped prioritise children’s protection in a way that is uplifting for generations to come. As teen activist Emma Gonzalez said: “We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks…we are going to change the law”.
Written by Nyasha Nyamhondoro, Research Executive at Family Kids & Youth