"Hate is a result of fear of the unknown. We need love and education to take away the fear of the unknown. Without fear there would be no violence," says David Hogg, one of the co-founders of March For Our Lives, this year's winner of the international Children’s Peace Prize. This morning, together with his fellow founders Jaclyn Corin and Matt Deitsch, he visited our Amsterdam office where together they shared their inspiring and remarkable story.
Imagine to have survived a deadly high school shooting, or to lose a friend or family member due to gun violence. David, Jaclyn and Matt thought, probably just like you, that it would never happen to them. But it did. On Wednesday, 14 February 2018, a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, opened fire and killed 17 people, including 14 children.
The teenagers decided that the trauma and loss suffered as a result of the events of this unimaginable day could not get them down. Instead they started their protest against gun violence and founded their movement, March For Our Lives, to make themselves heard. They made it their mission to get young people out to vote against gun violence and to force high level decision-makers to listen.
On their "Road to Change" tour through the US, they visited more than 80 communities affected by gun violence in order to speak about possible solutions to this huge issue. They held town rallies and voter-registration events and they spoke with local politicians, media, and families of victims of gun violence. They walked door-to-door to spread their message and motivate young people to vote. The youngsters organised their biggest action in March 2018: the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Millions of people were inspired to attend and more than 800 sister marches emerged in all 50 US states and around the globe. Each march called for a peaceful solution to ensure safer schools and communities.
Despite the fact that David, Emma, Jaclyn and Matt have been questioned, criticised, ridiculed and even threatened, they have not let this behaviour deter them and they have not given in. Since they started speaking out, over 25 states have passed more than 50 laws consistent with their cause. All of their hard work has paid off.
The Children’s Peace Prize is an initiative of Marc Dullaert, the Chairman and Founder of the Dutch KidsRights Foundation. The Peace Prize is awarded annually to a child, anywhere in the world, for his or her dedication to advancing children's rights. NautaDutilh is proud to be partner of KidsRights, promoting the wellbeing of vulnerable children across the world and advocating the realisation of their rights.