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One Florida mom is livid after her child was taught a valuable, potentially life-saving lesson in his school.

The Jacksonville parent, who is choosing to remain anonymous, claims Mandarin Oaks Elementary and the National Rifle Association’s gun safety program Eddie Eagle are responsible for informing her 7-year-old son that the message she’s been proclaiming all these years is wrong.

“’Mommy, you’re wrong. Toy guns are okay. See, guns are okay, mom. See? It says so right here,” the mother said her son told her.

“They’ve just undone seven years of parenting in one hour,” the mother told reporters.

Duval County Public Schools said parents are usually notified when resource officers are presenting the program to Mandarin Oaks students and given an opportunity to opt their children out, but the parents of students in one classroom did not receive a letter.

The Eddie Eagle gun accident prevention program is responsible for educating 29 million children on what to do if they ever come across a gun: STOP!, don’t touch, run away and tell a grown up.

The outspoken mother said regardless of the message, because it came from the NRA, it’s “propaganda”.

“It sends a message that Duval is NRA-affiliated,” she said.

In his response to the miffed mother, Duval County Schools Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti wrote:

I agree that the topic of firearms is a sensitive issue, and that the public school system needs to understand that there are multiple viewpoints held by parents when educating students.  That is why we aim to keep the message easy to understand and without a discussion on gun ownership, use, or other personal perspectives around firearms.  It is true that the National Rifle Association is part of the consortium that developed the Eddie Eagle program through its outreach office, but its development was guided by specialists in education, public safety, public health, and child development.  This curriculum is not intended to assume your authority to guide your child’s moral development.

Like any safety program, we are most concerned that the content and the message is something that the student can understand and ultimately remember should he or she ever be faced with a threatening situation. The Eddie Eagle program, with its simple message of “Stop!; Don’t Touch; Run Away; and Tell A Grown-up,” along with its brief video and catchy song helps to bring alive an important message without intimidating the children.

A statement from Laureen Ricks, DCPS spokesperson, echoed the superintendent’s response:

The Eddie Eagle Gun Safety Program was chosen because its message is packaged in an engaging and easily-relatable presentation that resonates with students. This is key because the safety of our students is one of our highest priorities. The program does not contain any messaging about gun ownership, use of firearms, endorsements, or political perspectives. Please note this is a voluntary presentation and parents may choose to opt their child out of participating. ‎Too many children grow up not being exposed to gun safety.


Read Duval County Schools Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti’s full response:

Thank you for sharing your concerns with me regarding a safety program that the district has been successfully using for more than 20 years in our elementary grades.  As a parent, I very much appreciate your advocacy and respect the parenting positions that you expressed in your email.  Your partnership is an important part of ensuring a quality educational experience not only for your child, but for all children.

I agree that the topic of firearms is a sensitive issue, and that the public school system needs to understand that there are multiple viewpoints held by parents when educating students.  That is why we aim to keep the message easy to understand and without a discussion on gun ownership, use, or other personal perspectives around firearms.  It is true that the National Rifle Association is part of the consortium that developed the Eddie Eagle program through its outreach office, but its development was guided by specialists in education, public safety, public health, and child development.  This curriculum is not intended to assume your authority to guide your child’s moral development.  Please know that I take nothing more seriously than keeping students safe when they are with us at school, and I hope the messages we provide will help keep them safe when they are away from our classrooms. The program is about gun safety. Information that many students are unaware of and could save their lives.

Like any safety program, we are most concerned that the content and the message is something that the student can understand and ultimately remember should he or she ever be faced with a threatening situation.  Our choice of Eddie Eagle is based on its use of colorful and animated characters that a second grader can respond to, and content that is embedded in music to make the learning fun and engaging.   The Eddie Eagle program, with its simple message of “Stop!; Don’t Touch; Run Away; and Tell A Grown-up,” along with its brief video and catchy song helps to bring alive an important message without intimidating the children.

When the Eddie Eagle program is delivered in schools, the district uses an “opt out” letter to parents.  It was discovered by staff that this did not happen for your child’s classroom, hence your surprise and frustration with not even having the opportunity to ask questions or review the curriculum.  Moving forward, we will ensure this consistently occurs.