There are many reasons my parent brain keeps me up at night, one of which is that public schools seem hellbent on destroying the innocence of childhood far earlier than necessary and often without parental consent.

Enter Harbor Elementary School in Connecticut.

There, a class of kindergarteners was taken outside for a “school safety” protest on the same day teenagers across the country walked out of their high school classrooms to protest guns.

The five-year-olds stood on the sidewalk next to traffic chanting “we love school” while their teachers held signs and explained that 17 angels were looking down from heaven, 17, of course, is symbolic of the 17 people murdered at the Parkland school shooting last month.

Source: Kindergarten Anti Gun March Walkout by IJR

At five, kids don’t need to learn how to protest. There is plenty of time for first amendment activities later on in life, all of which they’ll learn soon enough.

But Harbor Elementary isn’t the only school to broach the subject of guns and school shootings or even the blanket topic of school safety with their smallest students.

The Wall Street Journal reported several elementary schools across the country were engaging in similar activities. Most, of course, were progressive-leaning schools:

Some of the most organized events are at schools with progressive traditions and parent bodies. At Manhattan Country School, a private school with a social justice mission in New York City, children in prekindergarten through fourth grade will sing the peace songs “If I Had a Hammer” and “Paz y Libertad.”

And at PS1 Pluralistic School in Santa Monica, Calif., elementary students wrote their wishes for a safer world on small pieces of rice paper, to be hung from a large piece of driftwood in a schoolwide ceremony. Children said they wished for houses for the homeless, kindness, an end to drought and more wishes. Although teachers didn’t mention anything about firearms, they were on at least one boy’s mind.

“I wish there were no guns so people couldn’t suffer,” said 8-year-old Gabriel Chibane. “It doesn’t make sense. Why shouldn’t they have a longer life instead of just a short life?”

In Utah, leaders of the statewide parent-teacher association are embracing a social-media campaign called #WhatsYour17. It encourages positive actions tied to the number of victims killed in Parkland.

“We’ve talked about reaching out and smiling at 17 new people or finding 17 new friends,” said Jeana Stockdale, president of the Utah PTA. “In elementary school, it could be asking someone new to play with you.” Each district can decide if and how to mark the day.

Deciding what to do is especially tricky at schools that include students with different stages of awareness. At the Ridgewood Avenue School in Glen Ridge, N.J., which serves third through sixth grades, Nicole Quinn, president of the Home & School Association that represents parents, said the debate is “coming down to an argument about when it’s appropriate to ruin our students’ innocence.”

Which is exactly the argument to be had here — when and who decides when childhood innocence is over?

Kindergarteners (for the most part) still live in a world of wonderment and makebelieve where Santa is always watching, a stick is the ultimate multifunctional tool that transforms into a sword, a magic wand, a crutch, and anything else required. Dad and Mom are still capable of making everything better and playing in the yard sprinklers is the highlight of the week.

There is absolutely no reason to pop the childhood bubble in kindergarten or even first grade. There is a proper time to introduce our children to darker, uncomfortable realities (when we have the luxury of doing so) and when that happens, these issues ought to be discussed under parental guidance, not instigated or skewed by a teacher.


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