By Hawaii Guerin, High School Senior • IDRA Newsletter • September 2022 •

A huge issue that U.S. students face is the fear of violence with no productive action taken to ensure our security. Beginning with things like gun control, racial tension and sexual assault, there is no effective protocol made to protect students from these attacks. There is a consistent pattern of administration and government officials not taking these experiences seriously and brushing them off.

I personally can vouch for this. Recently, my school district reintroduced a dress code in response to the Uvalde tragedy. This has raised questions among students and teachers as to how this is a step toward safety. I have a friend who experienced sexual assault within the school, and she did not notify the school because she didn’t feel that she would be heard or believed. This is a common occurrence, and progress has not seemed to be made. Dress codes are heavily enforced, especially toward teenage girls, but often no real repercussions are given to their abusers.

All of these, along with so many more problems are the exact thing that instills a very understandable sense of panic in the school community. Parents are scared of sending their kids, teachers are afraid to go to work, and the students feel like there are too many unsafe possibilities that could reach them while they are trying to learn.

Texas lawmakers have been adamant about ignoring how the people feel, and they actively make laws in favor of the people who are actively harming us. It is important to know that your vote and voice within your local community matter. Vote, or start with registering, for every election you are eligible for.

Citizens make a large impact on the laws made in this country, which directly ensure the safety of students. As parents, it is also important that you strongly educate children on their rights, consent and wellness as this may also help prevent harm. As a whole, we should be focused on nurturing and putting school communities in the best positions to succeed.

A high school senior, Hawaii Guerin is a member of IDRA’s 2022 Youth Advisory Board from Fort Worth, Texas.

[©2022, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of the IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]