Last night when I entered my 13-year old daughter’s room before she went to sleep, she asked me a question.

“Mom, if I’m sitting in the front of the cafeteria, and a guy with a gun comes in and starts shooting, where do I hide? Should we start sitting in the back?”

At that moment I was thankful for the darkness that protected her view from my tears. Although I instructed my teens on what to do during an active shooting situation, I didn’t have a clue how to answer that question.

“And if we move to the back, that just means someone else will have to sit in the front. I mean, that doesn’t seem right either,” she continued. 

I’ve had several of these types of conversations with my three daughters the last few days, along with every other parent of tweens and teens across America. 

Prior to the mass homicide at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, my girls didn’t fully comprehend the reality that this type of event could happen at their school. 

But something flipped the switch on teenagers across the country after 17 of their own perished on Valentine’s Day. Our children are rallying together, and they have had enough.

It’s David Hogg, a 17-year old student at Douglas High School, who bravely stood in front of television cameras just one day after the shooting and said, “We’re children. You guys are the adults. Do something.” 

It’s the hundreds of middle and high school students across the country planning walkouts until there is action.

It’s the live video of the chaos in the Parkland school that is appearing on Instagram and the desperate screenshots of SnapChats that made their rounds on social media with messages that say: “This is what it’s like when a shooter shows up in your school.”

It’s the thousands of tweets to legislators from our young people asking why their government — that is supposed to protect them — allows these crimes to keep happening.

It’s my daughter who said, “I know you told me to run and save myself if there were ever a shooting, but isn’t it important to be a good friend, too? I feel like we need to stick together.”

And then, “Mom, what can we do to make this stop?”

It’s a valid question, sweet girl.

Our children are rallying together; they are begging and pleading for a response. They are scared to go to their schools, angry at the inertia of their government. They want more than a tweet or a TV interview offering thoughts and prayers. They are tired of calls for new legislation that only stalls in Congress.

Our children are crying for help, and we’re ignoring them.

So, we watch as our children take matters into their own hands, and I hope they spark the change that is so needed to reduce, or hopefully eliminate, these horrific events.

Our children are crying for help, and if we don’t do something, they’ll fix it themselves.

And our failure will remain our generation’s legacy. 

Our children are crying. Can you hear them?


Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a communications consultant, and blogger. She tries to dispel the myth of being a typical suburban mom although she is often driving her minivan to soccer practices and attending PTA meetings. She writes about parenting, relationships, and w(h)ine on her blog Playdates on Fridays.