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01 May 2007

Protesting Children [More:] or rather, children protesting. On my drive to work this morning there was a group of children at an intersection holding up "Save Darfur" signs. I've seen them before at this intersection; usually there's at least one adult with them, but today I didn't see any.

I find it a little strange. I mean, these kids are, well... kids. None of them could have been older than, say, 14. Yet, here they are waving signs around before school. I have wondered whether the adults with them are parents or teachers - is this perhaps part of a civics lesson? Is it some parent trying to impress their children with their own political views?

Mostly, I'm curious if these kids even know what they're rallying for. Hell, most American adults don't even know what's going on in Darfur. And this isn't the only time I've seen children at protests. I was photographing an anti-war rally on Boston Common a few months ago (shameless self link) and people had brought their school-age children to that, as well. The kids there were holding signs and chanting just like their parents. Do they understand? Did they understand the historical significance of yelling "King George has got to go!"?

Seems a bit... odd to me, is all.

How disappointed they'll be. Ain't no oil in Darfur. Amurrica doesn't force democracy and human rights on anyone for free.
posted by shane 01 May | 07:49
Jedis for Peace.

Yeah, dude, I think they know that they're doing.

My 8-year-old regularly goes on about what a douche Bush is. He doesn't understand "historical significance" but he's trying to make sense of the world and parroting his parents is one way of working towards that. Thought has to begin somewhere, and just the act of giving words to an idea helps to both formulate and begin to destroy that idea. As a parent, I have the right to "impress their children with (my) own political views" and see nothing odd about it.
posted by danostuporstar 01 May | 07:59
Yeah, 13 or 14 sounds about right to me as a starting age. It's the age when I started to get all fired up about The Injustice. Oh, The Injustice!

(A friend of mine who teaches in a largely white Maine community said of her students, "They've just discovered racism. They don't know what to do with their outrage.")

My eldest niece grew up with two things I lacked: socially conscious parents and access to the internet. She started joining protests and marches around 11 or so, and not all of them movements her parents actively support.

Younger protestors have the advantage of inexperience: they aren't burned out or discouraged. I sometimes find it hard to get out and participate, because my cynicism tells me that I've done this too many times to little effect. My niece and her friends are filled with earnest enthusiasm, believing they can make a difference. It's heartening to see.

(Psssst: do you think most adults understood the historical joke of "King George has got to go?")
posted by Elsa 01 May | 08:15
I've always felt that using kids in political rallies, or advertisements, just looks like adults trying to manipulate other adults. Even if the kids are sincere, I'm really not moved by the opinions of a 10 year old. I might be charmed by their enthusiasm, but that doesn't really sway my beliefs on any subject, from war to immigration to what car to buy.

That said, I like it when kids are informed about the world around them from a young age... if it doesn't start then, they're likely to stay ignorant as adults.
posted by BoringPostcards 01 May | 09:48
I was very into current events, politics, etc. from an early age -- I watched the news every night, read the paper, got into political debates with peers and teachers in grade school, etc. I started going to demos and stuff on my own around 14 -- I remember ditching school one day (I was in junior high) to take a bus downtown to join in the International Women's Day march, carrying a handmade sign for abortion rights. Took me about 20 years or so to get burned out. ;)
posted by scody 01 May | 11:10
Keep in mind, they may not be 14 in reality. I was mistaken for a high school kid even into my early 20s.

(in fact, at an abortion rights protest when I was 19 or so someone asked me why I wasn't in school)
posted by kellydamnit 01 May | 14:24
Tales From The Porch || This looks fun!