Trib editorial: Teens find their voice |

Trib editorial: Teens find their voice

Students gather at the entrance to the office of Florida Gov. Rick Scott with boxes of petitions for gun-control reform at the state Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. Over a dozen students and teachers were killed on Valentine's Day in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. (AP Photo | Gerald Herbert, File)

Energized, articulate young people — high school students — are speaking up after the profound tragedy of the Parkland, Fla., school shootings, many students stepping before microphones for the first time.

Most of these youngsters are not old enough to vote, but they are certainly old enough to be heard. Thousands of high-schoolers from Florida went to their state Capitol in Tallahassee last week, demanding strict gun control after an expelled student was accused of using an AR-15, purchased legally, to kill 17 people and injure several others. A similar message was delivered by high-schoolers recently in Washington, D.C., outside the U.S. Capitol.

“We are seeing young people no longer want to lick envelopes but rather are determining the tactics, framing the message and creating the media for campaigns that reflect their priorities for the direction of the society,” according to Henry Jenkins, a University of Southern California professor and author.

And no doubt this generation’s immersion in social media is a big plus in getting their message out. But in finding their “voice,” teens should be sure it’s not premised solely on what they’re being told to say by adults and/or political factions but on what they, themselves, firmly believe.

That should be accompanied by a clear understanding of American civics.

Young people should be engaged in the national discussion about their welfare. And an engaged citizenry, we remind, is always preferable to disengaged “sheeple.”

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