DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Firearms are the leading cause of death for children in the U.S.
The number of teens carrying handguns has increased 41% over the last 20 years, according to a recent study.
Huber Heights Police say after a couple incidents at Wayne football games, they’re working to address the issue.
“Nobody’s talking about it. Nobody’s talking about the stats that children are actually getting hurt by guns whether it’s on accident or on purpose,” says Officer Nick Lambert, Public Affairs Officer with the Huber Heights Police Division.
Police partly blame the increase on a lack of adult supervision and mentor-ship.
“These kids need mentored whether it’s by a coach, teacher, parent, police officer, firefighter, postal worker, person at a gas station–it doesn’t matter. It takes a village to raise a child,” says Officer Lambert.
That’s why they’re working to get Big Brothers, Big Sisters involved and developing educational programs in partnership with the Miami Valley Crime Prevention Association. They’ll teach people responsible gun ownership, Ohio gun laws, and what to do if you spot a teen with a gun. They say awareness and an open dialogue are important.
Police will also provide gun locks for adults in the programs.
“If they have free access to a gun they could accidentally or purposely hurt themselves or someone else,” says Officer Lambert. “A lot of these guns that we’re seeing on the streets are usually unreported stolens out of a house or out of a vehicle.”
The development of the program comes after police say two students had guns at Wayne football games this season.
“One student at a Wayne game is too many,” says Officer Lambert.
Officers say they’re working closely with Huber Heights City Schools and increasing manpower if need be at future sporting events.
While police confiscated the weapons in both cases at the football games and no one was hurt, they’re taking steps to stop this from happening.
“If it’s one life that we can save, then it’s worth it. All of this work is worth it,” says Officer Lambert.
Huber Heights Police have worked closely with the National Center for Juvenile Justice of Greater Dayton in the past on a program called “Police and Youth Together.” They’ve done camps with kids to teach them gun safety.
They’re looking to roll out the new programs early next year.