The Best Ways to Help Students Discuss Guns and Violence

Nowadays gun violence among youth has reached epidemic levels in the U.S. According to the research, there are about 265 million privately owned guns in the United States and almost a quarter of kids have easy access to them in their houses. Their parents aren’t doing a good job of hiding those weapons from them. Kids can easily get guns just by opening a drawer in their home. Most of the times, their parents just store it in unlocked areas, and usually there are no trigger locks on those guns. Another research says that some parents think that their kids don’t even know they have a gun in the house while those kids had already handled it several times.

Students holds signs and sex toys as they protest a campus carry law in Austin, Texas, Wednesday Aug. 24, 2016. Hundreds of University of Texas students waved sex toys at a campus rally during the first day of classes, protesting a new state law that allows concealed handguns in college classrooms, buildings and dorms. (AP Photo/John Mone)

America’s schools have a serious gun problem. According to the Washington Post analysis, about 193 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus during school hours. There have been 158 mass shootings this year, and they continue to dominate the headlines. Hence, it is important to have a dialogue with the kids about a school shooting. Students might want to talk about guns and violence, express their fear of violence, or talk about gun control. And there are several ways to help them do it.

Try to start a conversation by providing concrete information about school’s safety. Then continue with a question how students feel about gun violence and massive shooting. What do they know about it? A teacher’s role is to take time for such conversations and create a respectful atmosphere where students can express their thoughts and questions without any fear. Some of them might have an idea of organizing protests or building a movement for changes. Remember, that you need to protect everyone’s right to speak. Different perspectives should be heard and valued.

Make a conversation about gun control and gun rights. Before beginning a class discussion, provide students with the useful phrases they can use while formulating and expressing their ideas:

– In my opinion…;

– Here is what I think…;

– I agree with you…;

– I disagree with what you just said…’;

– I get why you think the way you think, but…

Tell them that they should support their ideas with evidence. If one of them says something that offends other students, you need to make a comment and explain how it is hurting someone else’s feelings. If there are some good essay writers from, they can also express their thoughts on paper.

Sometimes you need to give students more information before beginning a discussion. They can read some article on the related topic and then after learning the key facts you can start a dialogue using some different methods. For instance, ‘Save the Last Word for Me’ is a powerful discussion strategy that requires all students to participate as active speakers and listeners. It helps even shy kids to share their thoughts. You can find more ideas for discussing such hard topics in a guide for classroom conversations.

Here are some other questions to start the conversation with:

– What do you think should be done to keep people safe from gun violence?

– Is it important to protect people’s right to own guns?

– Why do you think there are so many mass shootings?

– What can we do to prevent gun violence?

– How much have you heard about all of that and what else do you want to know?

Let students lead the conversation. It is very important for them to feel free in discussing such topic as guns and violence. Give them an opportunity to discuss the events openly and to express themselves. You can contribute to their thinking by asking different questions. Sometimes they can react to the questions the way you don’t even expect. Just listen to them, support and assure them that their voices matter.

As mass shooting have become more common in recent years, it is important to talk more about it with students. They shouldn’t be scared to tell their educators if some of their classmates shows weapons or tells about their plan to kill or harm someone. We need to find ways to better listen to them as awareness of someone’s obsession with firearms can prevent a potential threat. Those who express their obsessions with guns and the desire to kill others should be seen by school professionals as soon as possible.

A lot of schools immediately expel such kids, but what happens to them after they are expelled and who is responsible for them? Instead of expelling such individuals, schools can support and provide mental health services to them, teach them to simply react differently, monitor their progress and rehabilitation. Educational authorities should take more responsibility for their students, that’s why talking to them about guns and violence can help to prevent potentially violent situations.

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