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An 8th Grade Social Justice Project for Gun Control

Monday, February 8, 2016


Children’s Day School has a deep commitment to social justice and to helping our students find a purpose.  Every year the eighth grade class selects and researches a current issue in the U.S. for part of their study in civics as well as a way to engage in service for their community.

In 2015, they chose the death penalty and the need to create buffer zones around Planned Parenthood facilities. In 2014, the students wanted to get the U.S. government to stop its practice of mass deportations by updating current immigration laws. For each service project, essential questions they ask are:

  • How can we effect meaningful change in the United States?
  • How can we make our country a better place?

For their project this year the students chose gun control. The mass shootings in San Bernardino in December and in Southern Oregon in October felt very close to home.  The students read The New York Times in class and as the class studied journalism, the media and current events, it seemed that every politician and pundit was discussing gun ownership and the number of mass shootings that were occurring every day in America. The students were confused and angry about this astounding fact: In 2015 more mass shootings occurred than there are days of the year in the United States.

The students researched the issue and discovered that 30,000 people die by guns in the U.S. annually. They invited speakers on both sides of the gun issue to speak to their class. After doing research and discussing the issues, the students voted on how they would like to see gun laws changed:

  • ban on assault rifles
  • universal background checks including all gun shows
  • ban on handguns

Then they took action. They produced a pamplet to educate people on the issue, called members of congress who have not voted for sensible gun control, crafted a petition and sent letters to the heads of other independent schools in California asking for help in getting more students involved in the fight for sensible gun conrol. This week they are taking the signed petitions to Nancy Pelosi’s office.

Demographers tell us that this generation is purpose-driven. Our job at CDS is to help them find a purpose. CDS graduates are passionate citizens who will change their world.