Eddie the Eagle swooped into Lord Baltimore Elementary School in Ocean View Tuesday to help teach children about gun safety.
Now every class in the school, kindergarten through fifth grade, attends the presentation, which lasts about 20 minutes.
“We wanted to bring some type of safety program into the school for the kids because unfortunately, accidental shootings… is one of the leading causes of severe injury or death in elementary kids,” said Officer Rhys Bradshaw of the Ocean View Police Department. Bradshaw is the school resource officer at Lord Baltimore.
Many people incorrectly assume that teaching gun safety is teaching children how to safely use guns, he said.
This is far from the truth, he stressed.
Gun safety presentations like his explain how to act in a situation where one unexpectedly finds or comes into contact with a firearm.
It was a lively class Tuesday.
The students ran up to hug Eddie the Eagle, the mascot for the national program.
Bradshaw asked the class of kindergarteners basic safety questions such as what they do when they get into a car, or what they put on when riding a bike.
After the students shouted out “seatbelt” and “helmet,” Bradshaw showed them an eight-minute animated video.
The video featured playful young birds who were hanging out on the basketball courts when they stumbled upon a backpack with a gun in it.
One of the characters said, “I dare you to touch it,” while another suggested taking the backpack to her mom, who would know what to do.
Bradshaw explained that those were two big no-no’s.
It’s never okay for a child to be touching a gun, or carrying a gun to their parents, he said.
In the video, a catchy song played over and over again that some students were humming along to even when the video was done.
The lyrics were “Stop! Don’t touch! Runaway and tell a grown up,” which switched back and forth ringing out of the beak of an English-speaking bird to a Spanish-speaking bird.
The video also featured a bird cop, who was explaining to a younger bird that guns in video games are not the same as guns in real life.
“Kids are on video games so much, so I love that piece in that video,” said Principal Pam Webb. “Kids may think, you know, if I take a gun, I can hit restart, replay or whatever, but it’s not the same in real life. It’s final.”
South Delaware has a big hunting culture and many people own firearms, Webb sasid.
That makes it more important for parents to safely lock up guns and for children to know what to do if they come into contact with one.
Keeping guns in the household away from children is paramount, both Webb and Bradshaw stressed, partly because there are so many toy guns on the market today that it could be hard for children and even adults to differentiate between the two.
Bradshaw wrapped up his presentation by showing the students character cards depicting different kinds of people. He asked the kindergartners whether the people on the card were appropriate to go to if they found a gun.
After showing a baby, the students shouted “NOOOO.”
After showing a police officer and a teacher, the students harmonized with a big “YEEEES.”
Along with a certificate, children are sent home with an info card to give their parents that has instructions on how to safely store a gun in the household.
“It gives them a nice reminder of storing things properly, and answers some questions for them,” Webb said. “But anything we give kids to keep safety in the forefront – you know you’ll be singing that song all day – is important and has been well received by the students.”
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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