Everyone who works with young people has a responsibility to teach them what to do if they see or hear about someone with a gun. Women Against Gun Violence, an organization based in Oakland and Los Angeles, California, offers the following age-specific tips on what to say.
If you see a gun at a friends house . . .
If youre in a house and hear gunshots . . .
If youre outside and you see a gun . . .
Talk about how not to get into fights;
help your child think of nonviolent
ways to solve problems.
If youre at school and a friend or
another student takes out a gun . . .
Talk about ways to solve fights
without violence of any kind.
If a friend carries a gun . . .
It puts you in danger. Too many things can go wrong, especially if there are drugs and/or alcohol involved, or if theres an argument. The result can be deadly. The best thing to do is separate yourself from any person with a gun. About 80 percent of people killed with a gun knew the person who pulled the trigger. Make sure your friend knows youre not stupid enough to think that carrying a gun is cool.
If you feel you are in danger and think about getting a gun for protection . . .
Understand that you can protect yourself in other ways. When someone carries a gun, it is more likely to be used against him or someone he knows rather than against an unknown attacker. Walk in well lit areas after dark and avoid walking alone; take a self defense class; carry a personal/body alarm.
To stay safe . . .
Avoid people and places where you suspect violence might flare up easily, such as parties where there will be a lot of drugs and alcohol or "hang out" areas where violence has erupted before.
Have willpower. If you become involved in a conflict, refuse to resort to violence as a means of resolving it. Learn about conflict resolution and mediation take a course, then teach your friends.
It may be difficult to talk to teenagers about a subject like this. Here are some suggestions that may make it easier to discuss guns and gun violence:
Some discussion questions you might use with teenagers: