The last few weeks have been full of protests in Portland. Many of the organized protests seem to include mostly adults. But, the past week or so, I have noticed a trend of “family protests” and “kid-friendly” protests.
I am bracing for impact when I say … I am absolutely on board for the family/kid-friendly protests. My seven-year-old daughter and I will be attending one on Friday that was formed by my daughter’s elementary school. There is a lot to consider with this decision.
Considering the many factors of this event, I am confident that we will be safe, and my daughter will gain an important experience in her life due to attending.
The first item I had to consider was safety. Due to the small crowd size and the familiarity of everyone we know from school, I feel it will be safe. The invites were sent to parents in the Parent Teacher Organization from her school through a P.T.O. Facebook page. I felt even better when I saw the pictures from last week’s protest that they held. There was a group of around 30-40 familiar faces, in the daytime, near her elementary school.
The second consideration I had was: “Does she even want to go?” It took her about two seconds to excitedly bellow, “Yeah! Definitely.”
The third consideration I had was: “I need to warn her about the bad things that can happen.” I told her there may be some rude shouting from cars passing by, or people walking by. She giggled and said, “Really??” She did not seem to mind. I told her about the worst-case scenario: people could throw stuff at our group, so we would have to watch around us, and be ready to protect ourselves. I reassured her that we will be in a like-minded group and do everything we can to be safe. I went on to explain that these mean reactions are pretty much why we are protesting — because people of color have been treated unfairly for a long time. I am sure some people do not agree with my take on this situation, and that is absolutely understandable. We all have different views, and this is an extremely sensitive subject. With that said: I will list a few considerations parents may think about when it comes to deciding about your kids protesting.
First, consider the factors of your child themselves-
How old is the kiddo?
Are they interested in protesting, or are you deciding for them?
If they do want to protest, ask them why they want to protest, and what they plan on doing when they are attending the event.
Will they be by themselves? With you? With friends?
Will they be joining an organized group?
If they are joining a group? What kind of a group- friends or an organized group? Do you know anyone in the group? Does this group have a social media page/post/link?
Do they have a working cell phone to stay in contact with you if you will not be with them?
What do they want to bring with them to the protest?
Ask them what they plan to do at the protest to ensure they plan on peacefully protesting.
If you decide to let them go without you, set a timeframe of when you would like them to be back home.
Next, consider the protest itself–
Where is the protest?
What is the timeframe of the protest?
Who will they be joining once they arrive?
What are the activities planned at the protest? Again, this is when it would be good to see a social media page/link/post about the specific event.
Will police be there? Is this an event that looks like it could include flashbangs/tear-gas/harmful consequences if protestors get out of control? (this consideration scares me SO much)
Consider the worst possible scenarios. Could they be hurt? What could happen to them? What safety measures are in place to keep them safe.
Consider any legal consequences that could come from their attendance.
These are the considerations that are off the top of my head. I am sure there are many others that I have not listed. Other considerations from an article I read on “Today.com” suggested:
1) Talking to your kids before the protest about what may happen
2) Seek out protests in smaller cities
3) Be aware of curfews
4) Keep your eye on your surroundings
5) Let kids express their feelings through the creation of their signs, if they want to make them.
I want to be VERY crystal clear when I say again: I am not promoting the idea of kids protesting in this article. Although I am taking my daughter to a small, organized neighborhood protest, and I believe it will be beneficial for my daughter, I am not suggesting that everyone do that. I know many people do not feel this way. As the article says: there are many, many personal considerations, and feelings about this subject. My aim is to shed some light on the considerations to think about when making this decision, and there is much to be considered!
Whatever you decide about kids and protesting is your choice, but I do suggest asking your kids what they think about it regardless of their age. If they are interested but you fear them attending protests, perhaps seek out local social justice opportunities that are safe for your kiddos to engage in.
Best of luck to you all in your decisions about kiddos and protests.