SAN FRANCISCO— As gun violence ravages communities across the country, parents and teachers alike struggle to approach the topic with their children.
During the summer inside Third Baptist Church, you’ll find nearly 20 kids apart of its Freedom School. It’s a place where children learn to believe not only in themselves, but in making change in their communities through social action.
One of those kids is ten-year-old Chidi, who says this is his first year in the program.
Right now, Freedom Schools across the country are focusing on gun violence prevention. It’s something Chidi thinks about a lot.
“Many people get shot and the police don’t do anything about it,” said Chidi. “And it happened to me in my house, well not in my house, but outside of my house twice last year and this year.”
Chidi says when he hears the term gun violence he feels—“Negativity. Scared, hopeless and sad.”
Each semester the school includes activities, speakers and enrichment programs to tackle difficult topics.
The kids in the program range in age from kindergarten to middle school. Here, they are encouraged to share their feelings and thoughts about gun violence.
“Not many people come to talk about it with other people,” said Chidi. “It’s only a small amount of schools that do that, but it shows they care about us.”
To further the conversation, Freedom School San Francisco invited District 2 supervisor Catherine Stefani to speak with the students.
“It’s actually very sad to me, kids should be worrying about who they are going to play with and what they are going to play at recess not about whether or not there are ghost guns in our society or lockdown drills,” explained Stefani.
“It makes me want to work harder. The fact that in the United States gun violence is the leading cause of death for our children is absolutely, unacceptable.”
Stefani’s visit comes on the heels of the Firearm Industry Responsibility Act, which went into effect July 1st.
The law will make it easier for Californians to bring firearm retailers to civil court. Firearm dealers will also be required to stop the sale of guns to traffickers and people who are prohibited from possessing firearms under State and Federal Law.
Teachers and volunteers lead the discussion at Freedom School, and they say gun violence is a more pervasive issue among their students than you might expect.
“This hits home because I have lost family members and close people to gun violence,” said Am’Brianna Daniels, lead intern at San Francisco Freedom School.
“I am definitely one who advocates for gun violence prevention, so I have to explain that to young minds, especially when they are so impressionable. It hurts my heart they have to grow up in this type of society, but it would rather talk to them about the subject and they get the proper knowledge about it.”