HELP FOR MIDDLE SCHOOLS:

Locally-Produced Anti-Gun Video Available to Schools

by Gail B. LeCompte

Don't be surprised if the sound of gunshots ring out at your teenager's middle school. But don't worry, either. They could be watching a new video aimed at reducing the dangers of gun violence.
The gun violence prevention video has been produced by the Towson-based National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA), a non-profit organization that addresses trauma and emergency care issues. NEMA is providing the upbeat 20-minute MTV-style video free to all Maryland middle schools for classroom use. Teaching resource and activity materials and take-home information for parents are also included.
Schools will use the video to educate Maryland teens about the damage caused by gunshots, and teach them how to solve everyday conflicts without resorting to guns.
The video project, intended to be expanded to other states, was conceived by NEMA president and executive director Howard Farrington. It is a direct response to the fact that, since 1986, the United States has seen a 1740% increase in the number of children and teens treated for knife and gunshot wounds. For every one child killed, ten more are left permanently injured and disabled.
NEMA spent over $100,000 to produce the video and related materials, and raised additional money from businesses and other associations for duplication and distribution expenses.
The decision to distribute the video free, said Farrington, was made because "the issue at stake here is about tragedy, not profit. Thousands of our young people are living lives in wheelchairs or on respirators and no one is even talking about it, no one even keeps statistics on the number of children injured by gun shot. Our kids have to die before anyone thinks it's important enough to record somewhere."
Farrington said the easy availability of guns coupled with the impulsiveness of youth, peer pressure and an inability to successfully resolve conflicts, often creates a mix that explodes in violence. When most youths think about using a gun, they think about escape or death, said Farrington. "They don't think about the greater possibility of living with the after-effects of permanent and debilitating damage-both physical and emotional pain, the loss of a limb or an eye, living as a paraplegic."
The video was filmed on location around Baltimore. The two acting leads, Alex Scott and Chris Formant, are Boys' Latin School students. Other teens from metropolitan area schools auditioned for paid roles in the video. Said actor Jerrill Adams, a senior from Randallstown High School, "I do peer mediation in my school, and I am really going to pump this up at school. Kids need to learn more about gun violence and how to prevent it."
Although NEMA is giving the video packet to middle schools free, it will also be available at a nominal cost to other schools or organizations that may be interested in acquiring a copy. For information, contact the National Emergency Medicine Association, 306 W. Joppa Rd., Baltimore, Md 21204 or call (410) 494-0300.


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This story was published on February 6, 1997.