Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not represent the views of Babble.
This morning, just like every other week day, I sent my kids off to school and began scrolling through my social media feeds. My eyes were met with many memes, stats, and lengthy debates about National Walkout Day.
But one post caught my eye above all the others.
“Please excuse Sophia (and all the other students) for walking out today,” the post begins. “She felt passionately about the over 7,000 impossible-to-ignore children who have lost their lives to gun violence since 2012 Sandy Hook. That is an absurd statistic and something has to change. Do the right thing, do something Fed Gov. Hugs, Seth.”
“Seth” is Seth Jay King, the husband, father of five, and creator of Late Notes, a wonderfully sarcastic Instagram feed inspired by his oldest daughter four years ago. At the time, Sophia’s excessive lateness to school inspired him to hand write notes explaining her tardiness, and the posts quickly caught on. King’s hilarious explanations ranged from blaming it on puberty, to staying up too late watching Season 2 of Stranger Things, and even once to a “severe homework allergy.”
His main goal? To teach his children to be polite and to show up to school on time.
I have followed King on Instagram for a few years now myself. And as a mom of four children, I know exactly how frantic and sometimes ridiculous life as a parent can be, especially when trying to herd multiple children out the door and arrive at our destination on time. But this most recent post — which to date has over 4,000 likes and close to 200 comments — resonated with me deeply, because King chose to put aside the laughs and instead tackle a serious and timely issue: school shootings and safety.
King tells Babble that his post has been building for some time.
“My opinion has never changed as far as the safety of kids and teacher, and protecting innocence, happiness, progress,” he explains, adding that he wanted his followers to know that he’s “so grateful that the kids have taken a stand on their own” and hopes “adults will start to take this more seriously and listen.”
While adults are using their social media handles to debate Walk Out vs. Stand Up, gun control, the second amendment, mental health services, and bullying, King is taking a different approach. He’s using his social media page, which has well over 103,000 followers to date, to amplify the voices and feelings of our youth — including his own daughter Sophia.
King, like myself, has kids who will be in school settings for a long time. In addition to 12-year-old Sophia, he and his wife also have Isabella, 17, Carson, 15, Nolan, 8, and Liam, 5. And while all parents may have differing moral and political views, King notes that surely we all can agree on the fact that we can no longer remain complacent. We need long-lasting change.
But what, exactly, should that change be? Seth and I agreed when speaking that we aren’t sure what the perfect solution is just yet. School shootings are complex issues with far-reaching tentacles. Seth shares that he came from a gun-owning, hunting family himself, but he doesn’t feel that guns should be so easily accessible, which is why he supports the walkout. He explains that youth “are at the mercy of the adults surrounding them,” and that it’s up to us to listen and to act in their best interest.
For King, one way he can support his daughter, and others just like her, is to utilize his social media platform to get the word out, and be his most “honest, authentic self” — even if that means losing followers in the process.
Throughout the past several years, as we’ve watch the frightening rate of school shootings grow, I have had many moments of despair, discouragement, and hopelessness, just as so many of us have. I am terrified for the safety of my four children, and I can only hope that a day comes when I no longer have to carry that fear with me, day in and day out. But if I’ve learned something from King’s post this week, it’s a lesson echoed by the words Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: That “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Silence is no longer an option. Change is scary, but it is most certainly necessary.