Climate Change Strike: What Parents Need To Know About Why Kids Are Skipping School

Young people across the world are missing a day of school and college to protest global warming.

Thousands of students across the world are skipping school this Friday, 15 February, to protest the effects of climate change.

Students in 40 cities and towns across the UK will join those in the US, Australia, The Netherlands and Uganda to call for greater government action on global warming, inspired by young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16.

Demonstrations are expected to take place in London, Bristol, Cornwall and the Scottish Highlands, and have been organised by groups YouthStrike4Climate, the UK Student Climate Network, and the UK Youth Climate Coalition.

“We’re running out of time for meaningful change, and that’s why we’re seeing young people around the world rising up to hold their governments to account on their dismal climate records,” said Anna Taylor, of the UK Student Climate Network.

This is what parents need to know – from what’s happening and why, to how your children’s school or college might handle their absence.

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So, Why Is There A Strike?

The student and pupil-led protests are planned this Friday, 15 February – and again on Friday, 15 March. There may be more, in line with the campaign Fridays for Future.

The coalition of the three youth groups – who organised the strike – says its students are driven by an “alarming” lack of government leadership on climate action over previous decades. The objective: to “radically reform” the role and power of young people in national action against climate change. At its core, the UK-wide strike has been inspired by Swedish student Greta Thunberg.

Who Is Greta Thunberg?

Greta was only 15 in August 2018 when she stopped going to school on Fridays. Instead, she led a solitary protest outside Swedish parliament buildings, pressuring the government to pass legislation that would reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.

Greta has since addressed world leaders at the COP24 United Nations climate chance summit and the World Economic Forum. Her message to fellow students is this: “You don’t have to school strike, it’s your own choice. But why should we be studying for a future that soon may be no more? This is more important than school, I think.”

There’s a TED talk you can watch with Greta, explaining why she believes the action is necessary.

What Are The Demands?

UK students want the government to declare “a state of climate emergency”. They want better education about global warming, and are demanding a change to the school curriculum which will include education about climate change.

They also want young people to be included in decision-making and are calling for the voting age to be reduced to 16.

What Do Parents Need To Know?

Those with kids who are choosing to strike may need to explain to staff why their child is not at school. Each school will have its own protocols, but parents might be expected to call in or write a letter to inform them of the reason for their absence. It’s best to contact the school and ask how you should deal with this, if your child is striking.

What Are People Saying About It?

On Twitter, many are in support of the strike – including Caroline Lucas MP. Writing for HuffPost UK on Friday, Lucas added: “Our children recognise that they are living through a climate emergency. They are striking today because they know we cannot carry on as normal.”

Some parents are sharing their support for their children’s stance against global warming.

But others don’t think it will make any difference – with some even calling for punishments for the pupils who take part.

Some, however, wish the kids the best of luck.

Find out more about the groups organising the strike on their websites: YouthStrike4Climate, UK Student Climate Network, and UK Youth Climate Coalition.