SJSD Board of Ed Will Look at Gun Education Program

By Alan Van Zandt |

Published 05/08 2014 11:15PM

Updated 05/09 2014 07:23AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Following a rash of school shootings across the country and the case of a student bringing a gun to a local elementary school last December, the St. Joseph Board of Education will consider a gun education curriculum.

"We need to teach our kids the safety of a gun," said Linda Swope, a district school counselor, who assisted with the Lindbergh gun case. "We leave it alone. We get an adult, someone who can take care of it."

Swope wants that message to get across to all students. She knows it can be difficult.

"Sometimes our children get desensitized to things," she said. "They see somebody with a knife or they see someone with a gun and they think it's probably play."

"They're fascinated with guns," said Lori Cole, who also supports gun education. "We use them in video games. We use them in everyday life and in movies. They'fascinated by them."

The St. Joseph School District has acquired a gun education curriculum from the Virginia Department of Education. The material is age-appropriate for children in kindergarten through sixth grade.

"We felt like our children needed to have some awareness of what to do if they find a gun, see a gun, come across a gun and who to tell," Cole said.

Counselors are careful to point out that they are not teaching that guns are necessarily bad.

"These short sessions that teach them about the community members who use guns, why they use guns, why they're an important part of our society, other uses for guns," Swope said.

"There are a lot of good uses for guns," said Cindy Crouse, coordinator of counselors for the school district. "We're not being negative on guns. We're just trying to teach our kids how to be safe."

It's all about making sure that every kid who comes to school each morning will be able to go home at the end of the day.

"Safety and making sure our kids are protected is always something that's forefront on my mind all the time as a school counselor," Swope said.

The gun education program is a short half-hour lesson that was approved by the district's curriculum committee.

It will be up for the full Board of Education's approval at its meeting next Monday.

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