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Organizations partnering up with schools to host safety camps, teach gun safety

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BATON ROUGE - Earlier this month, 13-year-old Dereon Reed was shot and killed accidentally by her 14-year-old friend in Tickfaw.

"It was an accident, you know," Marquelle Gordon, Dereon's cousin, told WBRZ. "Accidents happen but at the same time, guns are not to be played with, so we're trying to get the message through to the youth."

Family and friends mourned the tragic loss, and Reed's friend was arrested for negligent homicide.

"It makes me happy and warm inside that everyone was able to get together and come and honor Dereon," Gordon said during a balloon release.

According to Every Town Research, an organization tracking accidental shooting deaths, 350 children die every year due to an accidental shooting. So far this year, there have been 221 unintentional shootings and 78 deaths.

"What goes through my heart is sadness, but what goes through my mind is, 'How can I prevent this from happening to another child?'," Crystal Pichon, a member of St. George Fire Protection, said.

The St. George Fire Protection District is partnering up with The Safety Place and the American Red Cross to teach kids about gun safety. On Thursday, kids learned about bike safety and nutrition. This fall, kids from schools in the capitol region will learn about how to handle guns.

Many grew up learning "stop, drop and roll" but for these kids, it's a different song they'll be learning.

"We can also teach kids at a young age [that they shouldn't] touch a gun and who to go to if you find a gun," Pichon said. "They shouldn't bring the gun to the adult, but bring the adult to the gun."

Experts say it is important to limit access to a gun as much as possible.

"The most secure way is to have the firearm and the ammunition separated and locked away separately, but if that's really not something a family can do, there are ways that you can secure your gun with a lock box or a safe," Dr. Lois Lee, Lead Author, AAP Firearm Safety Policy Statement, said.

Students will participate in nine other safety lessons including water safety, internet safety, and other interactive sessions. The classes will take place all year long during the school day at the American Red Cross.


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