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Small kids need to know that guns are not toys. That’s the message of the National Rifle Association video Learn Gun Safety with Eddie Eagle. It teaches kids who find a gun to leave it alone. Go tell an adult. Even if you think it might be a toy, just leave it be. Pro-gun and less-than-pro-gun parents will love Eddy; the gun safety lesson is about as vanilla as you can get when talking about deadly weapons. But I’m a 12-year-old. Does the NRA’s message fly with kids my age and older? Two words: Eddy’s grounded.

This video doesn’t appeal to kids my age for one simple reason: it’s boring. Simple. And kinda dumb. The chances of pre-teens and teens watching Eddy without some sort of parental threat are “slim” to “none”—and Slim just left town. If you think that joke’s lame, the video is worse.

The video’s fine for the Barney and Teletubbie set. For kids my age, it’s a snooze-fest. You would never see anything like this on MTV or any of the other major channels we watch. If the NRA wants to reach kids my age, they’re gonna have to rethink their approach.

Kids my age like to see real life situations play out. Show us what happens when a bunch of teens play with a gun. Or a kid starts thinking about suicide. Make us care about what happens to them. Don’t talk at us, talk to us. Make it real.

Forget cheap animation. If you really want to grab our attention, give us Taylor Laughtner or The Jonas Brothers. If you put some blood in it—like someone gets shot in the foot—that would appeal to the guys. We both need to know about triggers, muzzles and bullets. Don’t be afraid to show us how guns work. Or that they can be safe when handled properly.

But remember: it’s my age group and up that’s really at risk from guns. Help us protect ourselves, but don’t put us to sleep while you do it.

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  1. Great post Phoebe! In my opinion, gun safety education could go a long ways towards lowering accidental gun deaths in the United States. You are correct in your observation that the current offerings leave a lot to be desired. One of the problems is that it is currently very hard to get any kind of gun education classes into our public schools. Many opponents feel like any kind of exposure to guns is a bad thing, and will fight tooth and nail to keep it that way. I think this is why the Eddy Eagle program is so watered down, and only conveys the "if you see a gun run away and tell a parent" message.

    I think our country needs to get away from this head in the sand attitude and realize that education empowers our youth to make good decisions. I hope you that you can continue writing about this issue. Often times change starts at the grassroots levels and I think that you are in a great position to make your voice heard.


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