It is truly difficult to imagine the horror a parent must feel when they receive news that their son or daughter’s school has been targeted by a madman with a gun.

Unfortunately, this has happened far too often in modern America.

In the past few decades, places such as Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook have all been scenes of mass carnage. These events have left deep impressions on those of us who are merely outsiders, viewing things from afar, praying for those involved, and struggling to make sense of it all.

I can’t comprehend what family and friends of actual victims or survivors experience.

Talk of the February 14th massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has dominated the news since it happened. This is to be expected. Seventeen lives were taken by a teenager whose history of emotional issues, threatening behavior, and relationship with local law enforcement should have kept him on the front burner.

But mistakes were made, he was overlooked or disregarded, and his rage brought him to the halls of his former high school where he gunned down unsuspecting souls.

Naturally, we all want answers. Even those of us with no connection to what occurred are carrying on conversations about what – if anything – can be done to keep firearms out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have access to them.

The taking of innocent life should always make us furious. In the midst of that ferocity, though, we should remain honest, dedicated to the truth, and focused on the reality at hand.

In roughly six weeks, we’ve come to know Parkland students David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky, and to a lesser extent (because mainstream media doesn’t appreciate his pro-2A stance), Kyle Kashuv. These teenagers have been thrust into the media spotlight because youth makes for an ideal poster child. Energy and a fresh face can do much to advance a narrative, regardless of content.

We have seen exactly this in the past few weeks. There is a sense that because one has gone through a crisis, one has the expertise to discuss the issue – almost continually – in the public square.

I have no problem with these kids talking about their experiences and demanding change. I have every problem with the free pass they’ve been given as they label NRA supporting legislators and actual members “kid killers”, among other things. I have a problem with their lack of basic knowledge about guns and gun laws while chiding Second Amendment supporters for possessing weapons and using them in accordance with established law. But I have already written about those frustrations.

Now, it’s time for their parents to step in. 

In the beginning, when it was obvious that a select few Parkland students could get away with saying anything during media appearances, I wondered, “where are their parents?” The answer has always been, “they’re standing right there, watching events unfold, and basking in the pseudo-celebrity of their children.”

Frankly, it’s gross.

I don’t expect the parents of these kids to chide them on national television. I would hope, however, that they relay the truth to them in private, point out how their growing, and quite bloated, sense of entitlement is unhealthy, and discuss how the problem isn’t weaponry, but internal and a matter of the heart. I would encourage them to chastize their teenagers for unfairly labeling individuals as blood-stained accomplices to a tragedy simply by believing in a long-established right.

But I know I’m asking too much.

The parents of these newly-minted anti-gun crusaders only want this to keep going, no matter what it looks like or costs their kids in the future. They don’t care that they’re pushing their kids onto the national stage when they’re not intellectually or emotionally mature enough. They’re political stage moms/dads who want to live vicariously through their activist offspring.

And it is grotesque.

The most recent example is that of David Hogg and Laura Ingraham. The Fox News host commented on Hogg’s statements about not getting accepted to several desired colleges. She should have left well enough alone. As Joe Cunningham wrote earlier,

…my inclination is that there is no winning an emotional conflict against teenagers who survived a school shooting – there is something few people are really talking about with regard to his feud with Laura Ingraham.

While Ingraham should not have remarked on Hogg’s worries about college acceptance, Hogg should not have taken to social media and displayed his emotions there in the first place. His denial letters are not due to the fact that he is involved with a gun control movement. Those decisions were made months before that fateful day in mid-February. They are purely academic in nature. A parent who desires to teach their child a lesson through adversity would remind them of the truth behind the current circumstance.

Instead, David Hogg encouraged advertisers to literally boycott Ingraham’s show to teach her a lesson.

I’m wondering what all of this has to do with the seventeen lives slaughtered on that day. Their bodies lay in the ground. The murderer is in custody and awaiting trial. And…we’re talking about how Liberty Mutual, Office Depot, and Jenny Craig are brave for walking away as sponsors from a Fox News show because of a comment on David Hogg’s college acceptance?

Really?

It would be good for all of us to reel things in and focus on what really matters. That does not have to involve outright mockery of our political enemies, no matter what side they’re on. Protecting our lives and protecting our rights can – and should – go hand in hand. Anyone who is unwilling to consider the marriage of the two is only seeking to advance a narrative of exclusion, which is what the March for Our Lives did, recently.

Do you think you can name most of the dead victims from Parkland? How about 5 of them? Can you name any? Without looking them up, I can only name Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, and Peter Wang. The girls’ parents have been in the news, though in quieter ways, seeking to find sensible solutions to gun violence. On the pages of RedState we’ve discussed Peter Wang, the brave young man who held open the door so faculty and students could escape, and who lost his life as a result.

The fact that I can’t name most of the deceased says that we’re forgetting about them. And their murders are the reason we’re here, discussing this issue, squabbling over it online in the first place. No, I don’t expect each American to memorize the names of all those lost to gun violence in such a public way. Sadly, there are already too many names. I do, however, expect us to at least try to remember what happened and carry ourselves in a manner that honors the dead and respects (and sometimes, respectfully disagrees with) the living.

I don’t see that from David Hogg, especially. Neither do I see that from Kasky or Gonzalez.

Ultimately, their parents should be guiding them away from the clicky, controversial statements and arrogant behavior to one that is a living memory of their fallen friends and acquaintances in speech and action.

After all, these teenagers are still teenagers, and they’re being used as pawns by adults who know better.

Those adults are their parents, assembled off-stage, cheering on the uproar, but not doing their kids – or our country – any good.

Follow Kimberly Ross on Twitter: @southernkeeks.