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Why children should stay in school—and not go on protest marches

By Ruth Harding 3 min read

Last month, Mums At The Table published the article, "In the footsteps of Greta Thunberg? One mum says yes. Here's why". Not everybody agreed. Here's one reader's response.

On social media at that time, I noticed a lot of mums applauding the [climate change protests] and simply taking a benevolent, "Oh, how cute" stance towards the demonstrations. Frankly, this is scary and underlines how much today’s mums are being lulled into ignorance of the subversive tactics used by leftist political activists to create an uprising of naïve, ill-informed young people who will jump onto the latest social justice bandwagon, and eventually stop at nothing short of anarchy.

Similarly, I felt that the article took a superficial approach by focusing on the truancy aspect of the protests, meanwhile giving the protests unveiled support. It completely glossed over the deeper issues around the protest itself. And frankly, there’s no comparison between kids’ great inventions and kids going on strike. The first is creative, the second rebellious. Totally different.

Here are just a few of the fallacies in the article:

The author suggested, "Excluding children from the [climate change] conversation because of their age is irresponsible, disrespectful, and arrogant."

I believe that on the contrary, excluding children from certain conversations is called "parenting". It is the parents’ job to make decisions for the family based on what is best for the child, taking into account that children are vulnerable and aren’t yet at a maturity level to have such heavy responsibilities placed on their shoulders.

I’m a high school teacher with Masters qualifications in child/adolescent counselling, and I can tell you now that most children and teens have not reached the "post-conventional stage of morality" (to quote American psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg), which would allow them to understand and apply principles related to what the author, and the World Economic Forum has called "the gravest threat to global business and industry", or whatever the topic of the day may be.  

As a result (as many protest detractors have pointed out), encouraging children to protest is literally exploitation. If there is something wrong in society, it is the parents’ job to protect their children from the ensuing anxiety, fear and trauma of the situation, and to stand up on their behalf.

Instead of whipping their kids up into a frenzy and sending them off down the street to protest (and then bragging about it on social media), a far more useful and educated approach by parents would be to sit their children down and explain to them how due process is used in the government of their particular country, and how various ministers, MPs and advocacy groups work towards making necessary changes to help the country. Parents could then talk about their own voting rights and how they plan to vote in the next election, based on which issues are important to them.

It is irresponsible and fear-mongering to lead children to believe that the government is unaware of global problems and is doing "nothing" about it (as Greta Thunberg vehemently claimed).

The government is well aware of the problems in our world and society and is in fact doing what is in its power and budget to try and fix issues such as global warming (which, as many scientists have pointed out, can’t actually be "fixed" and certainly won’t be impacted by changes in Australia, which already has one of the lowest emissions schemes on earth).

What about when the next sensational topic rises up and the next? Will the children be pushed from pillar to post, protesting this and that and the other, stressed out and fearful for their futures, when really, the world is going to keep limping along as it always has?

The article laments that students "may not be able to vote".

May I point out that there is a reason for this. Sure, some kids are brilliant, are more informed than the average 20–30-year-old, and take an interest in the wider world. But it is the parentsresponsibility to advocate for their children, and to let kids be kids. Rather than projecting their own unmet needs and desires onto their kids (such as the desire to feel engaged in culture and be socially on trend), parents need to offer their children stability, security and protection.

Children may take an interest in various world affairs, but certainly shouldn’t be provoked into getting emotionally involved (as I guarantee many of the children were), and shouldn’t have to carry the fear and responsibility for world problems. It is the parents’ job to make their children feel safe. So if anything, the parents should protest on behalf of the students (would they bother playing "truant" from work? Probably not—but they make their kids do it. Talk about exploitation).

To be honest, parents should be protesting the schools for putting such ideas into their students’ minds and organising such pseudo-justice, left-wing rallies. It’s entirely inappropriate.

Ruth Harding is a stay-at-home mum with a background in teaching, counselling and ministry, and loves giving practical relationship advice to women through mentoring and her blog, Ruth’s Home Truths. Harding.life/ruth.