NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (OCTOBER 14, 2013) – Students at the St. Thomas’ Primary School are this month participating in a campaign against guns launched for the month of October, under the theme: “Guns are not toys: Don’t play with them.”
The students have been participating in various activities which have been sensitising them to the dangers of guns and what they should do if they find one. As a part of the gun education sessions, students are also being educated about the dangers of gangs and drugs. Guidance Counsellor at the St. Thomas’ Primary School, Mrs. Sandra Flemming described the campaign against guns.
“This month, the month of October, we are having what we call a project campaign. The theme is ‘Guns are not toys: Don’t play with them’ and what we are really trying to do is to sensitise our children and educate our children as it relates to guns and the dangers involved and basically help to steer them away from being involved in gangs and using guns,” Flemming said and added that during the month she and the students were doing some research into children’s deaths by guns.
“We are researching the psychological impact as it relates to our children playing with guns from childhood. I really do believe that they become too familiar with the guns early in life. I really do believe that within their minds the connection is made between guns and the enemy and as they grow older they are simply acting out what they have become familiar with as children,” she said.
Mrs. Flemming explained that the one of the programmes being adopted is the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe programme, a four-step format which teaches children what to do if they encountered a firearm. They show them the “Stop. Do not touch. Leave the area and Tell an adult” steps.
The Guidance Counsellor stated that the students were exposed to gun violence in the media and the community and it was critically important to educate them about the dangers of guns.
“They are learning about the availability of guns because guns are available. People are going to use guns, so they themselves may stumble on a gun… and we are seeing that this is causing a problem here. Also the media, there is a lot of gun violence on the TV. It’s exciting. It’s entertaining and it’s compelling and the children love to get into the drama and the competition and that too is a compelling factor into what we are trying to do here in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“Some are just being drafted and some are unaware but they find themselves in gangs. Guns are put in their hands. They are using the guns. Also the use of illegal drugs is closely related to what is happening here…It is my persuasion that these guns are impacting the minds of our children and, as they grow, they simply act out what they would have internalised before,” she said.
In addition to adopting the steps of the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe programme, Mrs. Flemming noted that the students were expected to refrain from watching television episodes in which guns are used and that the students have since ceased their participation in any games which involve guns and anything related to them.