Luce Stellare ~ Starlight

A Journal reflecting on the softer side of life. A little mystical. Sometimes magical

TAG: Talk About Guns – Parent/Child Dialogue on Gun Safety

April, 25, 2018
West Brookfield, MA

One of the most challenging aspects of raising children, is helping them understand choices and the consequences to themselves, family, friends and community. On Wednesday evening, April 25, Linda McCoy, Director of the Senior Center in West Brookfield provided the setting for the launch of Ed Lapenas, TAG: Talk About Guns Program. The content of the program teaches parents and children how to talk about guns and gun safety.

A small crowd participated in an hour-long discussion on a program created by Lapenas which brings the dialogue on gun safety home. Lapenas discussed the public school format of presenting complex social topics to children in a lecture format and wondered what do the children understand. Is the child given a opportunity for a give and take on the topic so that an adult can assess the child has comprehended well enough to apply the given knowledge. Lapenas asked, “Unless you engage in a one on one conversation, you don’t know what is a misconception and what is actual knowledge.”

Ed Lapenas TAG presenter and Linda McCoy Senior Center Director

The program revolves around the question put to the audience by Lapenas, “What do you know about what your kids know about guns?” The TAG program offers an opportunity to ask questions so a parent can understand their child’s attitude, knowledge and beliefs about guns. The conversation takes place in the home and is completely confidential.

Lapenas gives parents and children a tool to work with on gun safety. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in their 2014 report on Deaths in the U.S., accidents are the 4th leading cause. Guns are in the home, as the Pew Research Center reports 3 in 10 adults own a gun. The reasons given are for protection, hunting, sport shooting, gun collectors and/or required for a job. A 2008 CDC report on Childhood Injury stated 12,175 children in the age range of 0 – 19 died by accident. The accidents include death as a result of auto accident or encounter with autos, drowning, poisoning and discharging guns in the home.

TAG provides parent’s a guide to start the discussion. A Gun Safety Survey of 35 statements is included with parents encouraged to select two or three for each dialogue session with their child. An example of statements are:”I can load a bolt action rifle. Yes or No” “Önly adults should be allowed to use guns. Yes or No” and “I have been on hunting trips with a friend. Yes or No”. The child is asked to respond for the parent to gain knowledge on what they know and don’t know about guns. According to Lapenas, “The long-term goal is to develop a sense of responsiblity in your child that will carry them safely into adulthood.”Lapenas emphasized the program teaches the child to pause in certain circumstances and make choices that result in their safety. The child is educated and empowered to stop and think of consequences to them or others with whom they interact daily.

Lapenas is a Brookfield resident with a Master’s degree in Education and BA in Psychology. He states he obtained law enforcement experience with the Oregon State Police and several private security firms. Lapenas said that the brain development in children is not enough at the age of 7 or 12 years old, to understand guns and gun safety. “Kids engage in risky behavior because they are kids. That’s what they do, experiment with the world around them, touch things and try to figure things out.” Children are naturally inquisitive and curious. They learn by watching and listening to the adults around them and modeling behaviors.

Lapenas said, “the interaction between a parent and child will help the parent assess comprehension by observing the child’s actions. If the child begins to exhibit behavior that is undesirable in thoughts, or other verbalization, there may need to be an intervention by the parent.” He gave insight into the topical discussion on gun violence in our schools, theaters or other public places. The lack of dialogue, knowledge and intervention may be a reason for “the crazy things that are happening in our society. They {signs] are there for people to see and people have seen them and unfortunately been ignored. ”

Lapenas said, “gun safety starts with us individually.” Discovering a child’s beliefs about guns and gun safety can be surprising to both parties about what they know and what they think they know.”

Lapenas stated there is no fee for individual service. His goal is to find agencies and foundations who might like to support TAG. He may be reached at tagne2018@hotmail.com

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