Important Messages in Troubled Times from Our 2020 High School Essay Contest Winners
A Message from the President of Americans Against Gun Violence
June 7, 2020
Last December, when we announced the opening of our 2020 Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest, we couldn’t have imagined that by the deadline for students to enter the contest in mid-April, high school campuses across our country would be closed and much of the United States would be in a state of “lockdown” in response to a global pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus. Nor could we have anticipated that by this point in June, when we traditionally announce the contest winners, protests would be occurring not only across our country, but in many other democratic countries as well, in response to yet another death of an unarmed African-American man at the hands of police.
Although our country’s attention is presently focused on other weighty issues, I believe that fostering and rewarding critical thinking among high school age youth on the issue of gun violence prevention and providing students with a platform to publicly express their views is now as important – if not more so – than ever.
More than 100,000 U.S. residents have died due in part, at least, to infection with COVID-19, but most of these deaths have occurred in older adults or people with other serious underlying medical conditions. The virus has caused little morbidity and mortality in children and high school age youth, yet in many ways, our children and youth have been the ones most adversely affected by the dramatic measures, including school closures, taken in an effort to “flatten the curve” of the COVID-19 pandemic. In contrast, gun violence disproportionately affects our children and our youth. The rate of gun-related deaths in American children under the age of 15 was reported more than two decades ago to be 12 times higher than the rate in other high income democratic countries of the world,