"I don't want to die, I just want to go to school."
These words, spoken so simply by a 7 year-old girl after deliberate shots were fired into her classroom from the street, profoundly express the fear that many of our nation's children face every day. Tragedies associated with handgun violence among youth have unfortunately become all too familiar headlines in our daily newspapers.
From time to time we hear more tragic reports of children and teenagers who are both the victims and perpetrators of handgun violence. Incidents aren't just confined to urban areas, but affect rural communities as well. While the media tends to focus on the deaths that result, seldom does it report on those who become crippled or disabled. In fact, for every one child who is shot and killed, ten or more others suffer from permanent disabilities or remain confined to a wheelchair for life.
In A Flash is a short (20 minutes) but powerful educational video-based program that addresses the irreversible consequences of gun violence among youth. Developed, produced and funded by Kids Do Matter, a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association, the video is targeted to middle school-aged youth. Reports indicate that it is also being used successfully with both younger children and older teens. Bold camera technique and upbeat music enhance the appeal to young video-sophisticated audiences. The video covers situations in which kids are most likely to encounter a gun or perhaps feel they need a gun. It graphically demonstrates the probable results of choosing a gun to deal with conflicts, and illustrates the very real and crippling effects of disfigurement, loss of limb or sight, paralyzing injuries, the pain of therapy and rehabilitation and the emotional endurance needed to live with a permanent disability and its social ramifications. In A Flash has been met with enthusiastic reviews and comments from users.
to facilitate discussion in a classroom or small group setting, the video
is accompanied by a resource guide for use by a teacher or other
adult. It provides suggestions as to how the video and materials can
be integrated into different subject areas within an academic curriculum.
Toward the end of the video, three different questions are posed to the
viewers. The facilitator is encouraged to stop the video at these points
and initiate a dialog so that youth can discuss among themselves how
would handle these situations in which they encounter guns. They are
prompted to suggest alternative behaviors to deal with peer pressure and
Unfortunately, the list of towns throughout the nation that have been rocked by tragedies involving kids and gun violence is growing at an alarming rate. Places such as Paducah, Kentucky; Pearl, Mississippi; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Columbine, Colorado; Edinboro, Pennsylvania; Fayetteville, Tennessee; and Springfield, Oregon have been "put on the map" as a result of senseless and horrific incidents of children shooting teachers and other children.
Gun violence among children is epidemic. Every day in America, 16 children ages 19 and under are killed in gun homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings. Many more are wounded (National Center for Health Studies, 1996). This is the equivalent of one classroom every day and a-half.
This is a health and social crisis affecting not just individuals and their families, but entire schools and communities. The results of gunshot injuries adversely impact our nation's health, education and economic resources. Repair and rehabilitation are often absorbed at public expense, as are the costs of social service programs for victims and families, as well as special education needs required for a permanently disabled child.
The children who are both the perpetrators and victims in these incidences seem to be getting younger all of the time. Not long ago, the Associated Press carried a story about a five-year old kindergarten student in Memphis, Tennessee who was arrested after bringing a loaded pistol to school because he "wanted to shoot and kill several pupils, as well as a teacher" because he had been punished with a passive form of discipline for young children known as "timeout" (Sunpapers, May 10, 2022).
The Journal of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reports that gun homicides by juveniles have tripled since 1983 (Snyder and Finnegan, 1997) and that teenage boys are more likely to die of gunshot wounds than from all other natural causes combined (McEnery, 1996). A 1993 Lou Harris poll reported that 35% of children ages 6 to 12 fear their lives will be cut short by gun violence (Lou Harris and Associates, Inc.. 1993).
How To Obtain A Copy For Your School