Rally or protest, leave kids home

These days, it seems many parents, non-profit organizations, unions and others are using children to benefit their personal political causes.

How many times have you driven by a political rally to see young, impressionable children holding picket signs or wearing t-shirts sporting political slogans? Did you ever ask yourself if children are there because they truly understood what the rally or protest? Did you ask children why they were there? Or did you just drive on by, honk and wave?

Already this week, children were used to rally for political agendas they do not comprehend. Yesterday, it was the so-called reproductive rights rally. On Monday it was the Right to Life rally. Both of those rallies were in Olympia. And on Saturday, hundreds, if not thousands, of children were used by March For Life political advocates in Washington, D.C.

But the political use of our children doesn’t end at the capital steps in Washington, D.C., or Olympia. It continues in our small towns. And with school levy election season right around the corner, it’s only going to get worse.

Most people never give it a second thought when they see children, including teenagers, on the picket line.

Putting it simply, adults are using children for political and personal gain. Even in our smallest towns, you can see it every time teachers rally for increasing wages, better benefits, more days off, etc. They claim the rally is in the name of education, but its really for personal financial gain.

The same goes for rallies and protests in our state and national capitals.

In almost all cases, rallies and protests are organized by groups getting paid to push specific agendas. Those groups think nothing about putting children in the midst of a political agenda as an advertising gimmick.

Like it or not, someone is getting paid to “rally the troops,” and it’s not the children or teenagers being used on the front line of a rally or protest just for the optics in print, broadcast and online.

As a journalist, I’ve covered hundreds of rallies and protests in my career. Not once have I met a child — teenagers included — who fully comprehend what they are doing. Not once have I met a child who understands the ramifications of their attendance.

I cannot understand why any parent would allow their child to be used as a “poster child” for an adult political cause, a cause the child themself may not believe in when they grow up. In this day of fake social media outrage — but real social media bullying — I cannot understand why any parent would consider jeopardizing the well-being and future of their child by putting them in the public limelight of a personal political crusade.

I suspect its because many adults don’t consider the ramifications of having an uniformed child “advertise” a personal political agenda.

Consider the following:

You take your daughter to a pro-life rally and give her a sign. Her image appears and is shared by strangers on social media. A few years from now, she applies for a job. Her prospective boss’ due diligence turns up the social media images. You may have cost her employment.

Or this one:

You take your son to a gun rights rally. His photo appears and is shared on social media. Before you know it, he’s getting threats from those opposed to gun rights. Since the image was shared, he could continue to receive threats for years to come.

We live in a country that allows for rallies and protests on political causes. But that does not make it right. Using children for personal political or financial gain is just wrong.

Anyone who has a valid political argument, should make it. But leave the kids at home when you do.

— Roger Harnack is the publisher and editor of The Daily Sun. Email him at rharnack@dailysunnews.com.


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