After the tragic shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, high school students across the country walked out of classrooms to protest and demand stricter laws on gun control as a part of the Never Again movement. As students step into the gun control debate at state capitols, online, and in the media, many political and business leaders have speculated that these students could force policy changes.
“Student activism is not a new phenomenon,” Penn GSE’s Jonathan Zimmerman told EdWeek. “College and high school students participated en masse in Vietnam war protests and demonstrations during the Civil Rights movement. Let’s remember that the sit-ins, the people being arrested, were not Martin Luther King Jr.’s age. They were college students and sometimes high school students.”
However, empowered by social media, this new generation of activists is doing things differently. Appearing Monday on SmartTalk, Zimmerman describes these young activists as “extremely savvy, extremely smart, and aware of the various ways that are available to them in influencing public opinion. They are obviously motivated and mobilized in ways that we haven’t seen for a long time. I don’t think there’s any question that this is a different moment with respect to the attention and the buzz they are generating.”