'You have it in you to shout': The pope rallies behind teens demanding change.

Pope Francis has become something of a pop culture icon, with over 5 million Instagram followers and a blockbuster documentary set for release this spring. It's not hard to see why.

In the homily of his Palm Sunday Mass, Pope Francis took the opportunity to speak to young people, many of whom were gathered to celebrate the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day.

Palm Sunday at the Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images.


Perhaps coincidentally — but probably not — the pope’s words also came a day after the March for Our Lives, a series of worldwide, youth-led demonstrations protesting gun violence. It’s estimated that more than 800,000 people attended the march in Washington, D.C., alone.

Though Pope Francis didn’t mention the March for Our Lives specifically, he might as well have. His message was perfectly timed to encourage the thousands of youth who are advocating for better gun legislation and being met with loud resistance from the NRA and others.

EN:The Church wants to listen to all young people, no one excluded, because we need to better understand what God and history are asking of us. PT: A Igreja quer escutar todos os jovens, nenhum excluído, porque temos necessidade de entender melhor aquilo que Deus e a história nos estão pedindo. ES: La Iglesia desea escuchar a todos los jóvenes, sin excepciones, porque necesitamos comprender mejor lo que Dios y la historia nos están pidiendo. IT: La Chiesa vuole ascoltare tutti i giovani, nessuno escluso, perché abbiamo bisogno di capire meglio quello che Dio e la storia ci stanno chiedendo. FR: L'Église veut écouter tous les jeunes, personne n'est exclu, parce que nous avons besoin de mieux comprendre ce que Dieu et l'histoire sont en train de nous demander. DE: Die Kirche will alle Jugendliche hören, niemand ausgeschlossen, weil wir besser verstehen müssen, was Gott und die Geschichte von uns verlangen. #synod2018, #jovens, #youngpeople, #jovenes

A post shared by Pope Francis (@franciscus) on

First, the pope admonished adults to stop silencing young people.

Pope Francis basically told the grown-ups of the world to back off the young folks, but he did so in his gentle, indirect, pontiff-like way:

“The temptation to silence young people has always existed. There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible. Many ways to anesthetize them, to make them keep quiet, ask nothing, question nothing. There are many ways to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive.”

I don’t know about you, but what I heard there was, “Hey adults [*cough* NRA]. Knock it off.”

Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images.

Indeed, the number of adults I’ve seen in comments berating our young protesters is appalling. These kids are being told they aren’t old enough to know what they’re talking about despite having been through the trauma of a mass shooting and/or the daily fear of gun violence in their communities. They’re being called puppets, pawns, and shills — as if they couldn't possibly have something to say about the gun violence that directly affects them.

The NRA posted a recruitment video on their Facebook page the day of the march, with the caption, “Today’s protests aren’t spontaneous. Gun-hating billionaires and Hollywood elites are manipulating and exploiting children as part of their plan to DESTROY the Second Amendment and strip us of our right to defend ourselves and our loved ones.”

Ugh, seriously. Knock it off.

Pope Francis also spoke directly to young people, encouraging them “not to keep quiet.”

The pope then turned his attention to young activists, telling them basically to keep on using their voices to fight for change, even when the grown-ups around them are corrupt, grumpy, and silent:

“Dear young people, you have it in you to shout. It is up to you not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders, some corrupt, keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?”

The young people in the crowd shouted out, “Yes!”

I may have stood up in my living room and shouted, “Yes!” too. And I’m 43 years old and not even Catholic.

Pope Francis greets the crowd after Palm Sunday Mass in the Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images.

I love that the 81-year-old pope, who has the ear of more than a billion Catholics around the world, is uplifting the voices of youth. So often, young people get a bad rap in our society, but I have been blown away by these young activists. Watching the television coverage of the March for Our Lives, I was moved to tears by their eloquence, conviction, maturity, and inclusion. These kids have restored so much of my faith in humanity, and Pope Francis using his substantial pulpit to urge them on just warms my heart.

Two Marjory Stoneman Douglas students were at the Mass in the Vatican, holding gun violence protest signs.

Gabriella Zuniga and Valentina Zuniga are students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students were shot and killed on Feb. 14, 2018. They were in attendance at the mass in the Vatican on March 25, along with their parents, holding signs that read "We are #MSDSTRONG," "Protect Our Children Not Our Guns," and "#NeverAgain."

Pope Francis is an incredibly aware guy. He may not have seen the Zunigas and their signs in the crowd at Palm Sunday Mass, but there's no doubt that he saw the masses of youth leading the March for Our Lives.

And his message to them on Palm Sunday was heard loud and clear: Keep on shouting, kids, no matter how the grown-ups try to silence you.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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