Giving MN Kids a Voice on Addressing Gun Violence
Monday, July 17, 2023
Minnesota children are in summer vacation mode, but some are taking time to call attention to how they and their peers have been affected by gun violence.
This Wednesday, more than 1,000 students will march to the state Capitol for a rally as part of the Children's Defense Fund's National Day of Social Action.
Tim Cryer, youth development senior manager for CDF's Minnesota chapter, said gun violence is a key focus this year as more troubling statistics emerge. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that firearms are now the number one cause of death for children and youth.
Based on his group's outreach, Cryer said it's apparent that not feeling safe is weighing on the minds of kids.
"There's an anxiety and a fear that they live with every day," said Cryer, "due to gun violence across the country that they see - but also in their own communities."
Organizers say the event will encourage kids to be more outspoken on this issue in a way that's not intimidating for them.
Political divisions are still a major roadblock in finding ways to stop gun violence in the U.S. But Cryer said he sees hope, with Minnesota Democrats this year pushing through a "red flag" law and expanded background checks. Those efforts were opposed by gun rights advocates.
Cryer said as they try to engage with kids on this topic, the idea is to give them a way to channel their anxiety.
"What does it look like to protest?" said Cryer. "What does it look like to use your voice? Something that they can put their energy to, that they can get excited about with their peers - how that helps them feel like they are part of the solution, and not just victims."
Kids taking part in the event are aligned with CDF's Freedom Schools program and will provide examples of how gun safety issues affect their mental and physical well-being, while at the same time demanding they grow up in communities free from threats of gun violence.
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