Guns in day care experiment teaches lifelong lessons to kids, pa - FOX Carolina 21

Guns in day care experiment teaches lifelong lessons to kids, parents

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Sgt. Andrew Hefner placed an unloaded black gun inside one of their puzzle cubbies. Sgt. Andrew Hefner placed an unloaded black gun inside one of their puzzle cubbies.
WMC Action News 5's Lauren Squires placed five hidden cameras in their classroom. WMC Action News 5's Lauren Squires placed five hidden cameras in their classroom.
Parents continued to watch as curious child after curious child found the gun. Parents continued to watch as curious child after curious child found the gun.
All of the parents involved in the experiment say the conversation goes beyond day care and into their social circles, their friends and family. All of the parents involved in the experiment say the conversation goes beyond day care and into their social circles, their friends and family.
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COVINGTON, TN -

(WMC) - The average number of kids injured in the Mid-South each year from gunshots is 47. Since 2003, 15 children have died from gunshot wounds.

Le Bonheur Children's Hospital says it has seen a rise in gunshot wounds over the past two years. Most are accidental and most happen because a child got his or her hands on a gun.

Have you talked to your children about guns? Would your child know what to do if he or she found one?

The WMC Action News 5 Investigators partnered with a day care owner, Covington Police Department, and Le Bonheur Children's Hospital to start a conversation that could save your child's life.

More than half of the parents at Krayola Learning Academy in Covington said they had already spoken to their kids about guns.

"He's never seen a real gun before," said Davis Bemish, who had the conversation with his son, Gabriel, one week prior. "We just told him, find a teacher, don't touch it, don't play with it."

Frank Fiveash has been talking about it for years with his son, Preston.

"I do have guns in the house but I wanted him to be able to distinguish between a daddy gun and a Preston gun, or a kid gun," said Frank.

But would the kids actually do what they have been told if they found a gun when no adults were around? To test them, WMC Action News 5's Lauren Squires placed five hidden cameras in their classroom.

Sgt. Andrew Hefner placed an unloaded black gun inside one of their puzzle cubbies. Next, their teacher, Ms. Monica, brought a dozen kids into the classroom and asked them to play only with puzzles before she left the room.

Parents watched on a monitor from another room down the hall.

Within minutes, the gun was discovered by 8-year-old Dorian, who did not tell any other kids about the gun, but left to find an adult.

Parents continued to watch as curious child after curious child found the gun.

From a distance, it looked like no one picked up the gun. After about eight minutes, Sgt. Hefner went back into the room and the kids immediately told him about the gun, but no one admitted to touching it.

"I didn't touch it because it was real," said Gabriel Bemish.

"If you get it in your hand it might kill you," added Preston Fiveash.

"I run away from it when I first saw it, and then I fell, but I got up and went away," said Corianna Brassfield.

Parents entered the room and by all accounts, it looked like a successful test.

"I was almost certain that he was gonna grab it and start aiming it at people, but he remembered what I told him," said Preston's dad.

"It's good for them to know that no matter where they go, you do not touch it," added Lacy Brassfield.

But the hidden camera that was placed inside the puzzle cubby got footage that told a much different story than what the kids told their parents after the experiment.

On that hidden camera footage, you can see Preston picked up the gun almost immediately, looked at it, then put it back down, recognizing it was not a toy. He then told other kids not to touch it. His mom and dad were pleased.

"I'm guessing that he's thinking this must just be a gun that I can play with, then he realized that this wasn't his gun," said Preston's dad, Frank. "Because I told him there is a distinction between a mommy and daddy gun and a Preston gun, so he knows the difference between the two."

Preston also called for his teacher multiple times, even going to the door once to look for her. He warned his classmates not to go near the gun.

It was a different story for Corianna, who after the experiment, told everyone that she did not touch the gun.

"If you see a gun, you just walk away and tell a parent," she said.

But the hidden camera tells otherwise. Corianna touched the gun three times, even trying to fire it twice.

"I didn't think that she would ever touch one and the thing that shocks me the most is that she said, 'This is real,' and she still put her finger dead on that trigger like it didn't matter," said her mom, Lacy.

Next, Corianna was shown the hidden camera video.

"What did you do when you seen that gun?" Lacy asked her daughter.

"I didn't touch it," she answered.

"You didn't?" asked Lacy. "Are you sure?"

To which Corianna replied, "Yes."

While watching the video with her daughter, Lacy asked, "Did you hear what that little boy just said?"

Corianna replied, "Gabriel thought it would kill him."

"He didn't think ... it will," said Lacy.

"I didn't know it was a gun," whispered Corianna.

"You said, 'This is a gun.' You knew what it was, yes you did. I'm very disappointed," Lacy responded. "Save it."

After watching the video, Lacy used the opportunity to teach her daughter a powerful lesson.

"Why did you lie to mommy and tell me that you didn't touch it?" she asked.

"I thought you'd be mad at me," answered Corianna.

"I'd be 10 times more mad if you would have shot yourself or somebody else. I wouldn't even have been able to be mad. I'd have been heartbroken," added Lacy. "What if it would have shot you ... You think you would have lived, huh? You don't? You don't know where you would have went? You would have gone to Heaven with papa. You can't play with guns, Corianna. At all. Ever."

Lacy continued, "The only reason I want you to know to never touch a gun is because it can kill you, and then I won't have you. I won't be with you every day. OK? Promise me that you won't touch no more guns."

But do not forget about 4-year-old Gabriel, who was the first to find the gun. He told his classmates over and over again to stay away from it.

"I'm glad he didn't touch it, maybe I wish he would have ran out of the room and gotten a teacher, but he didn't touch it," said his dad, David. "So, I'm proud of him for that."

Three different reactions came from the experiment, all resulting in lifelong lessons that the parents hope no one else has to learn the hard way.

"We know we can't always be there, but we hope to instill in him that even when momma or daddy can't be there, that he's able to know, 'I shouldn't touch this,'" said Frank Fiveash.

Corianna and her mom threw out all of the toy guns in their home. Lacy says her daughter will not play with guns.

All of the parents involved in the experiment say the conversation goes beyond day care and into their social circles, their friends and family.

Le Bonheur Children's Hospital says most child gun injuries happen because guns are not properly locked up.

What you can do

You can pick up a free gun lock at the following law enforcement agencies while supplies last:

Memphis Police Department
Click on the link to find the Memphis police precinct nearest you: http://mdsas.memphispolice.org/wardfinder/

West Memphis Police Dept.
626 E. Broadway Blvd
West Memphis, AR. 72301
870-732-7535

Tipton County Sheriff's Office
1801 S. College St.
Covington, TN. 38019
901-475-3000

Southaven Police Dept.
8710 Northwest Dr.
Southaven MS. 38671
662-280-2489

Dyer County Sheriff's Office
401 E. Cedar St.
Dyersburg, TN. 38024
731-285-2802

Germantown Police Dept.
1930 S. Germantown Rd.
Germantown, TN. 38138
901-754-7222

Bartlett Police Dept.
3730 Appling Rd.
Memphis, TN 38133
901-385-5555

Millington Police Dept.
7950 Memphis Ave
Millington, TN. 38053
901-873-3886

Q&A with a child safety expert

WMC Action News 5 hosted a live chat with Le Bonheur Children's Hospital Director of Injury Prevention and Safe Kids Susan Helms. She answered questions about gun safety, when you should talk to your kids, and how you should approach the conversation. In case you missed it, you can read what was talked about by reading the chat transcript, click here: http://www.wmcactionnews5.com/category/283385/gun-safety-chat-archive

Copyright 2014 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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