Children make the best political pawns. If you want to boost the chances of your political agenda succeeding, find a way to make it “for the children.” If you really want to boost the chances of your political agenda succeeding, find a way to put some children supporting your agenda in front of a television camera.
Gun control advocates opted for the latter and helped organize an official school walkout day to support gun control. As part of this plan, gun control advocates said that it was time for America to listen to its children. And this plan largely played out the same way that walking children in front of television cameras always does. Children were made to believe that adults actually care about their thoughts. Unfortunately, they will likely learn that their opinions only matter when they agree with what adults are pushing them to support:
The idea that children, in their innocence, have special moral insight goes back a long way in Western culture — perhaps to the biblical injunction that, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” It has, of course, always warred with some variant of the belief that “children should be seen and not heard” — that children are not yet ready to hold up their end in adult conversations.
So when does the special moral insight of children manifest itself? When they are telling us that algebra is a stupid waste of time and the drinking age should be 14? No, funnily enough, children are only gifted with these special powers when they agree with the adults around them. Our long-standing cultural dichotomy lets adults use them strategically in political arguments, to push them forward as precious angels speaking words of prophecy to make a point, and then say, “hush, they’re just kids” when the children mar that point by acting like, well, children.
Do the opinions of children matter when they’re advocating for lowering the legal age to buy cigarettes? No. Do the opinions of children matter when they’re advocating for an end to homework? No. Do the opinions of children matter when they’re supporting gun rights? No. Their opinions only matter when they’re the correct opinions.
This is why I have an especially low opinion of individuals who use children to push their political agenda. I’m sure some adults do genuinely care about the opinions of children but they are certainly the minority. Most adults only want to march out the children to push their agenda then return them to their boxes so they cannot be heard until the next time they’re needed to push an agenda. This is the kind of nonsense that I have to believe teaches children that they’re nothing more than disposable tools.