Children walk through the halls of Murray Park and Quest elementary schools in 2016. They already would have been seasoned veterans of “intruder” drills, as Ripon schools begin those safety precautions in kindergarten.      Maic D’Agostino photo
Children walk through the halls of Murray Park and Quest elementary schools in 2016. They already would have been seasoned veterans of “intruder” drills, as Ripon schools begin those safety precautions in kindergarten. Maic D’Agostino photo

     When marijuana started appearing in the hands of schoolchildren in the 1960s, we cried, “Won’t someone think of the children?”

     By 1970, marijuana was labeled a Schedule I drug, along with heroin, ecstasy and LSD ...

     Meanwhile, teen marijuana use has remained stable over the last 20 years, with many other forms of drug use declining among high schoolers.

     Programs have been established at Ripon schools and in every school district and community across the country on how to educate children and families on drug use and abuse.
*     *     *

     When teen pregnancies peaked in the 1950s — and rose again in the ’70s and ’80s — we cried, “Won’t someone think of the children?”

     So we began teaching sex education at Ripon High School and to teens and preteens everywhere. ... We granted greater access to, and education about, contraceptives.

     Now, not only are teen birthrates and rates of teens with sexually transmitted infections down, but abortion rates are dwindling as well.

     Since the end of the 1980s, teen pregnancy in the United States has steadily declined; it currently is at a lower rate than has ever been recorded in this country.
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     When children increasingly are shot at school, we cry, “Won’t someone think of the gun owners?”

  So before they learn to read, we shove our babies in closets and tell them if they are quiet enough and don’t make a fuss, they may live.

     We say the problem is mental health, calling attackers “sickos” and “crazies” and demonizing the one-in-five Americans who suffer from mental health issues, while simultaneously calling for cuts to Medicaid and Medicare.

     We say, “Guns don’t kill people;  people kill people,” and keep giving guns to people who kill people. ...

     We say we can’t ban weapons designed to rip bodies to shreds because criminals will still get their hands on them. This same argument would allow unfettered access: to bomb-making materials since would-be terrorists will make them anyway; to heroin since drug dealers will sell it anyway; to driver’s licenses for repeated OWI offenders, since they’ll just drive anyway; to our personal information since identity thieves and scammers will just take it anyway. ...
*     *     *

     From Ferguson to Florida, children who’ve been shot at, seen friends murdered and attended funerals day in and day out are fed up with all the shootings.

     They’re fed up with the inaction of our policy-makers.

     They’re fed up with a nation that wrings its hands at events that happen over and over and over again as if they are unsolvable mysteries.

     They’re fed up with previous generations so self-centered that we don’t want to change a thing while they are dying in their school hallways and classrooms because they’re not our children ...

     They’ve had enough of us. They are making their own news. They know they will one day make their own laws and elect their own leaders from among their own.

     Our children are not stupid. Won’t someone listen to the children?
— Maic D’Agostino

To read the entire editorial, see the March 1, 2018 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.