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How Parkland students are protesting the mandatory clear backpacks – and why parents need to listen

Students protesting clear backpacks at Florida school in wake of shooting
WATCH: Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, the site of a shooting which killed 17 people, are protesting the new regulation requiring them to use clear backpacks saying it's unnecessary and are questioning if they're needed at all.

Students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., are not happy about the new clear backpacks they’ve been given upon their return – and they’re letting faculty, and the world, know it.

The backpacks, which were handed out Tuesday, are considered an effort on the school’s part to prevent future active-shooter incidents at the school like the one that took place on Feb. 14 that killed 17 people, the school’s superintendent Robert Runcie said.

READ MORE: Ted Nugent says Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg is ‘brainwashed’, classmates not very educated

It’s clear, however, that the students at Marjory Stoneman aren’t a fan of the backpacks. Some have even gone as far as to protest the school’s decision to make the bag mandatory, and have posted their demonstrations on social media.

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Protesting is a way for students to be heard – and it’s important that kids and teens be heard, parenting expert Gail Bell of Parenting Power says.

“It’s extremely important to listen to our children,” Bell says. “What we have found in the last decade is that kids have felt less listened to than ever before because the family conversation is not happening due to parents’ use of technology.”

According to Bell, teaching kids how to express themselves respectfully and properly starts in the home. Whether it’s expressing themselves among their family members or otherwise, teaching kids how to properly communicate will set children up for success in the future.

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But if parents don’t start teaching their children at home, their kids could be encouraged to seek guidance elsewhere – guidance that may not necessarily line up with your family’s values, Bell warns.

READ MORE: How to deal with your child’s difficult teacher

“[Kids] need leadership and guidance on how to do things in an appropriate way so they do feel heard,” Bell explains. “But kids have to learn how to solve their own problems young and get experience with that so they learn.”

In the case of teaching kids about protesting in particular, Bell says each family is going to have its own philosophies on how they view the act. Whether they want to encourage it or not, parents need to sit down with their children and discuss what they find acceptable, any fears they have (if they have any), or they may discourage it altogether. Whatever the philosophy is, parents have to make their expectations clear to their children.

About teaching children about expression in general, Bell says parents need to also set time aside every week to discuss this topic, and similar topics, with their kids. This means talking about respectable, responsible and effective ways to get their messages across.

“Kids spell love ‘t-i-m-e,’” Bell says. “Kids want to listen and learn from you, and they want to talk.”

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