A Florida mother is rightfully upset after learning that her 7-year-old child was taught about gun safety in school without her permission. While firearms right and the topic of teaching kids about gun safety has been a heated debate in recent years, how parents choose to discuss the pro-gun or anti-gun side of the argument with their child is their right. And that’s exactly why this mother is understandably enraged.
According to Jacksonville, Florida news station FOX30, the mother, who didn't want to be identified, said that her child was taught a lesson on gun safety at Mandarin Oaks Elementary School. The lesson was part of a program called Eddie Eagle, which is a character created by the National Rifle Association (NRA) meant to help teach children who are too young to handle firearms about gun safety.
Many states allow parents to have the option to remove their child from any school curriculum on any subject that conflicts with their religious or moral beliefs. Duval County Public Schools, the school district of the child’s elementary school, follows this and told FOX 30 that parents are usually notified of a controversial lesson, like gun safety, before it is taught and they have the option to opt out if they want.
"They’ve just undone seven years of parenting in one hour," the mother told FOX 30, who said she has taught her that gun are bad.
"'Mommy, you’re wrong. Toy guns are OK. See, guns are OK, mom. See? It says so right here,'" the mother told FOX30 that her son told her as he showed her a pamphlet that taught him the opposite of what she has taught him about guns.
The mother told FOX30 that she thought lesson designed by the NRA was "propaganda" and was concerned that her son’s school was affiliated with the pro-gun organization. Duval County Schools superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti told the mother in a statement, accoding to FOX30, that while parents should have gotten a letter about this lesson with the option to opt out, but did not due to an oversight, the NRA-created lesson was guided by education, public safety and child development specialists.
"I agree that the topic of firearms is a sensitive issue, and that the public school system needs to understand that there are multiple viewpoints held by parents when educating students," Vitti said in the statement, according to FOX30. "That is why we aim to keep the message easy to understand and without a discussion on gun ownership, use, or other personal perspectives around firearms."
Vitti's statement continued:
This curriculum is not intended to assume your authority to guide your child’s moral development... The program is about gun safety. Information that many students are unaware of and could save their lives. Like any safety program, we are most concerned that the content and the message is something that the student can understand and ultimately remember should he or she ever be faced with a threatening situation.
The child was taught "Stop!; Don’t Touch; Run Away; and Tell A Grown-up," a lesson from the Eddie Eagle program, which was created in 1988. An 8-minute long video was also shown to illustrate what to do if a child encounters a firearm.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, firearm-related deaths are "still one of the top three causes of death in American youth." So while gun safety is a sensitive and important issue facing the world today, it's a parent's choice on how they want to address it and it's their responsibility to choose a teaching method for their little ones to learn about gun safety.
Although the school district admitted that parents should have been given notice of this lesson beforehand, this mother's parenting right was inadvertently taken away and that's understandably upsetting.