Before engaging your child in a public protest, you should follow some basic steps. These steps are important to ensure they understand the protest and also for their safety. They also help the adults and the children to understand each other and why they are protesting.
First, do basic research on the public protest. Find out who the organizers are. Seek information on whether they have any legal permit to conduct the public protest. Consider police trends during the public protest, the agenda of the protest, intended outcomes, required items, etc.
Second, ascertain the comfort zone of the child regarding public protests. Are they apathetic or concerned about public protests? Do they have any reservations about them? Much of this involves reading the mood and the thoughts of the child regarding public protests.
Third, explain to the child about the public protest. Clarify its meaning, protest etiquette, protest factions, protest schedule etc. Protest etiquette would involve explaining to the children why protesters wear masks and carry placards, block traffic, yell, etc.
There is also the need to explain to the child why (as a parent, teacher, guardian, adult) you need to be there at the protest in person. All these issues will enable the child to understand both sides of the issue under protest and to think critically about social action.
Fourth, ascertain and understand the due legal process in place. Find out if there exists any legislation, court injunctions, or government investigations in place to address the issue under protest. Failure to do so will mean that you will be organizing or taking part in an illegal protest.
You will be teaching your children how to disrespect and disregard the laws in place. On one hand, you will be advising your children to observe the law. On the other hand, you will be teaching them how to break the law.
Children’s attitude to Public Protest
All the same, in most public protests, children are unaware of the intentions of the protest. Adult give them placards, tell them to smile or to look sad or cute, to stand or sit, etc. Failure to educate children on protests translates to adults using them as mouthpieces or rubber stamps to back up their (adults) points.
Children need encouragement to form their own opinions about protests. It is obvious that the reasoning capacity of a child is not mature enough to conceptualize the dynamics of a protest on their own.
Note that if you go to a public protest, you act as a role model for your child. The same applies if you fail to go, or if you end up scorning the protesters. Nevertheless, that does not mean that every protest is beneficial.
Democracy is a participatory system and it allows people to speak up for their rights. As such, adults should encourage children to follow suit. They should encourage their children to speak up for their rights.
Through social action, children know they can build a movement, have their voices heard, take direct action, challenge bad things, and embrace action as a part of humanity.
Nevertheless, people should take caution not to put underage children in volatile situations or in the line of fire during protests.