Students all across our country, including in Wisconsin, will observe the one-month anniversary of the senseless and heartbreaking deaths of 17 students and staff at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in various ways. Some students are raising funds to support Stoneman students, others are reading the names of the 17 victims, while others are demonstrating to share their viewpoints on gun violence. I am deeply moved by the bravery and passion of the students organizing these efforts, and by the strength of their voices in advocating for change.
What is best for kids is always at the heart of our decisions at Children’s Wisconsin. The movement we’ve witnessed in the last month marks a new chapter for us as advocates: the kids are leading and we are following. To all the students taking action, know that we stand with you.
As part of a community of caregivers who have pledged to provide the best possible care for kids, I would like to tell kids today the following.
• You deserve to feel emotionally and physically safe at school. That includes effective anti-bullying programming and training for teachers and staff in the principles of trauma-informed care.
• If you are in distress, you deserve access to a caring and trained adult who can help. That means adequate funding for and access to behavioral health services.
• You deserve community and elected leaders who are willing to make reasonable decisions, not only political ones, about gun safety. That means, at a minimum, restoring research funding into gun violence and supporting serious, bipartisan efforts to limit access to guns for those who shouldn’t have them, including stronger background checks.
When legislation is proposed on school safety, gun safety or any other legislation of interest, take the time to not only evaluate the proposal, but to share your support or concerns with your elected officials. We will continue to engage at the local, state and federal levels where there are opportunities to make our schools and communities safer.
As always, please continue to support your kids and your communities.