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Teens desire to be part of the political process, but should it be at the risk of violence?

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The 2016 elections can be described as ongoing  cycle of absurd drama not unlike the life of a teenager.

The escalating rhetoric of “keep them away from me” by “building a wall” to keep those we don’t understand out of our friend group makes the Bobcat Beat think of how everyone acted in middle school. The biggest difference, pepper spray.

The battle being carried out on social media about “who dissed who’s wife”, and threats of “you will get yours!”  happens too often in high school – but it is high school.

There are many of us who are looking to become a part of the ‘adult world’, and voting is one of our first rights as an adult.

There is an unprecedented amount of adult viciousness spewed back and forth between the presidential candidates and  it left us, a journalism staff, wondering. “What are we to make of this of the world we are about to graduate into in a matter of weeks?”

Voter Registration Day

All rights held by Arlette Arcala
Voter Registration Day

Briefly, we are editors of the Bobcat Beat – the student news source for Overton and other community members in Nashville.

Since so many of our students come from countries that do not allow their “citizens” the freedom to speak, the freedom to express what the think and the freedom to worship a religion of their choosing, our newspapers mission statement reads in part, “it is our goal demonstrate, through writing, to our student body, the importance of  the Freedom of the Press.”

 

So many of our families chose to leave their country because of hatred and violence. They chose the United States because it is a land where speaking your thoughts and expressing a viewpoint is not supposed to get you physically harmed.

However, recently, the New York Times published an article that explored how dangerous it was to attend a political rally, and even more if you are a student.

Read NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE Here

The Riskiest Political Act of 2016? by Ashley Parker

 

What has caught our attention, as a staff, is how all the candidates seem not to  feel responsibility, and how few safety measures there are to protect those who dissent in the way they think.

The most recent incident of violence during Donald Trump’s political rally in Wisconsin and the violence that happened to a  15 year old female protester who was sprayed with Pepper Spray by a man who supported Trump makes me wonder if anyone is safe at a rally.

Donald Trump who leads the Republican candidates in most states has  had the most protesters at his political rallies.

Yet, the groups of protestors often look like the diverse groups of students who  walk to the halls of my school. What is frightening is what happens when a protestor is harmed by a person attending the rally, or by other protestors. The violence, it seems, is most often committed against women.

As editors of the Bobcat Beat International column, we as Associated Press student journalists, follow the politics of not just our own city and state, but we avidly report on the politics national politics as it interacts with other countries. Having just supported our own school voting drive, where the increase in registration was up 410%, we believe is our duty to do so.

Our confusion and frustration is with groups of onlookers who allow those around them to be groped, pepper sprayed and man-handled, particularly teenage women, with noo thought to their safety.

Teens are already perceived by adults in this country as lazy, up to no good, and often without goals. But it simply isn’t true or they would not attend rallies.

A man is removed by security guards before the arrival of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for a rally in Bethpage Long Island, New York on April 6, 2016. Trump looks to bounce back from his unsettling presidential primary los in Wisconsin, training his sights in the next White House contests on friendlier ground -- his home state of New York. / AFP / KENA

A man is removed by security guards before the arrival of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for a rally in Bethpage Long Island, New York on April 6, 2016. Trump looks to bounce back from his unsettling presidential primary los in Wisconsin, training his sights in the next White House contests on friendlier ground — his home state of New York. / AFP / KENA

By allowing teens at a political rally to be spray or groped, as the female teen was in Wisconsin, are adults not sending a message that we are to infer means. “Stay away if you can’t handle the violence? Don’t come if your female and you are afraid of being touched?”

Associated Press reported that the police have located the man suspected of pepper spraying a 15-year-old girl during an altercation at a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, but as a editorial group, we want to know, “Why was there no outrage by the adults like Mr. Trump or other candidates that a teenager was hurt?”

If a teacher had used pepper spray on a teen, the narrative in the media would have definitely been very different.

Janesville police Sgt. Aaron Dammen said Thursday “investigators have also talked to a man accused of groping the girl at the crowded rally outside a Janesville hotel and convention center Tuesday”. No one has asked this question though, “Has he been arraigned for sexual assault?”

Dammen says the investigation into the confrontation continues. No charges have been filed.

Teens are also often criticized for their behavior on social media, yet a video clearly shows a girl at the rally accusing a man of touching her chest and then punching or shoving someone in the crowd before another man wearing a Donald Trump hat pepper sprays her. The vile comments about the girl, a minor, on social media, are too vulgar to repeat.

Is this the New American way?

Who is responsible?

As a staff, we are not sure who is responsible for the safety of a person attends a rally.

We are suggesting, however, that pepper spray, groping in crowds and dragging Americas a logical response to a person voicing their opinion. People cheer for different teams at ballgames in high school every Friday night and none of the above happens.

When families leave a violent country for the United States, we have always been the beacon of hope, democracy, freedom of religion, speech and thought.

We expect our citizens to be informed and part of the process.

Teenagers should not fear becoming an adult. They should not fear their right to vote.

 

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Teens desire to be part of the political process, but should it be at the risk of violence?