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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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I'm teaching my 6- and 7-year-old boys about consent. Here's how it's gone so far.

parenting, consent, education, sexuality, community
Photo by saeed karimi on Unsplash

The scenarios of parenting have many hurdles in order to offer a healthy way of approaching life.

The second week of first grade, my 6-year-old son came home and told me, very seriously, "Mama, I have a girlfriend, and I love her."

I didn't laugh at him or tell him he is too young to have a girlfriend, and I didn't minimize his feelings. We had a very serious conversation about his girlfriend: what he likes about her, what they talk about at lunch, and what games they play on the playground at recess. I asked questions about her; some he knew the answers to, and some he didn't.

Nearly every day after that for some time, we talked about his girlfriend, and in every conversation, in some way, we talked about consent — what it means, what it looks like, and how I expect him to act.


I didn't objectify the little girl by referring to her as "your little girlfriend" as I've heard other adults tease their own children. I didn't make jokes about him being a heartbreaker or tell him that the girls will be falling all over him by high school. I didn't tell him his feelings don't matter — and I definitely didn't tell him her feelings don't matter. I think the seeds of misogyny are planted with words as much as behavior, and I treated his emotions seriously because, for him, being in love for the first time is the most serious thing in the world. He will remember this little girl just as I remember my first boyfriend, and how I handle things now is setting the tone for the future.

I wasn't expecting to have these conversations in the context of a relationship quite so soon.

His older brother is more introverted, with the exception of the occasional fleeting crush. But I have been talking about consent and modeling it since my sons were babies.

The idea that young men need to learn about consent in high school or college goes hand-in-hand with the idea that sex education shouldn't be taught before then, either. Consent is an ongoing conversation in our home, framed to suit the situation. But now that my son has a girlfriend, I'm finding ways to introduce the concept of consent within a relationship on a level that he can understand.

From the time my sons were very little — before they could even talk — I started teaching them about body autonomy and consent.

"Do you want me to tickle you?" "Can I pick you up?" "Do you want me to brush your hair?"

I would ask whenever I could, waiting for their response before proceeding. Yes, of course, there are times when a young child needs to be picked up or hair needs to be brushed whether they want it or not, but there are just as many times when children can be given — and deserve — the right to choose. And so I let them decide whenever I can.

Teaching them that no one can touch them without permission was the first step in teaching them about respecting the boundaries of others.

I model the respect I expect them to extend to others. It is an ongoing lesson, as the most important lessons always are.

Of course they fight — what siblings don't? But I teach them that, whatever the game or activity, if someone says "Stop!" or "No!" they are to stop what they are doing.

To that end, I try to stay out of their squabbles and give them time to sort them out. If they don't stop, there are consequences. We talk about how it feels to have someone keep chasing, tickling, or bothering you when you've told them to stop. I watch their empathy for others grow as they consider how it feels to be little and have grownups want to touch their faces or hug them without permission. They're learning, and it gives me hope.

But now I'm having daily conversations with my youngest son about girlfriends and what is — and isn't — OK.

He knows he has to ask if she wants a hug before he touches her. He knows that it's rude to refer to her as "my girlfriend" when talking about her and that it's better, and more respectful, to use her name.

He knows that if he gives her a gift, he should give her a chance to respond instead of inundating her with more gifts. "Let's wait and see how she feels about this lovely picture you made her before you draw another one," I tell him, explaining how overwhelming it can be to have someone give you gifts when you're not ready for them or haven't had a chance to return the affection. Of course, I'm thinking about the boy I knew my junior year of high school who would constantly leave me trinkets of his affection at my locker — affection that wasn't reciprocated and made me uncomfortable, especially after I asked him to stop.

I don't know if I'm doing this right, honestly.

There are times when I think to myself, "But he's only 6! Why are we even having this conversation?" And then I remind myself, "If not now, when?"

I know what it means to be a girl in this world, and my sons are starting to hear my #MeToo stories, the ones they're old enough to understand. How do I talk about what's wrong in the world if I'm not willing to talk about the right behaviors, the right way to treat women?

I know my sons have a good role model in their father and in our marriage. I know they watch how my husband interacts with me, and I see it reflected in how they treat me. It's a start, but I know it's not enough in a world that sends mixed messages to boys about girls and how to treat them.

It's been eye-opening, seeing how my children regard consent.

I've seen how those early lessons in teaching them about their own right to say no have gone a long way in teaching them the empathy and respect they show for others now.

I know we're not done; we're only just starting. I know it's only going to get more complicated as they get older.

But at the end of the day, no matter their age, the core lesson is the same: respect people, care about how they are feeling in your interactions with them, and remember that others have a right to feel differently than you do and to set boundaries for what is OK with them. The situations will change, but those words will be repeated again and again.

Teaching consent is not a one-time discussion. It's something I want my sons to think about every single day.

This story originally appeared on Ravishly and is reprinted here with permission. More from Ravishly:

    Sponsored

    3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

    O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

    A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

    Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

    By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

    Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

    O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


    “We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

    With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

    Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

    O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

    Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

    Prep time: 2 minutes

    Cook time: 20 minutes

    Total time: 22 minutes

    Ingredients:

    1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

    1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

    O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

    O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

    O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

    1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

    Instructions:

    1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

    2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

    3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

    4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

    tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

    O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

    Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

    Prep time: 15 minutes

    Cook time: 7 hours

    Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

    Servings: 4

    Ingredients:

    1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

    1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

    3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

    1 tsp onion powder

    I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

    2 cups water

    1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

    1 clove garlic ($.50)

    1 tsp salt

    1/4 tsp pepper

    2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

    Instructions:

    1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

    2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

    3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

    4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

    5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

    potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


    O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

    This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

    Prep time: 2 minutes

    Cook time: 25 minutes

    Total time: 27 minutes

    Servings: 4

    Ingredients:

    1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

    1 tbsp. olive oil

    2 tsp dried basil

    1 tsp garlic powder

    1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

    1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

    1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

    2 1/4 cups water

    2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

    1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

    Instructions:

    1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

    2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

    3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

    4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

    o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

    Joy

    Strangers rally to cry for help for 22-year-old mother given just four months to live

    In 24 hours, people flooded the family with donations to hopefully buy Rachael Burns some time with her 1-year-old daughter, Raeya.

    Rachael Burns was given a dire prognosis as her daughter turned one.

    Being given just a few months to live is a daunting prognosis for anyone, but when you're a 22-year-old mother with a 1-year-old daughter, it's particularly tragic. Your adult life has just begun. You are the world to your young child. Your partner is suddenly looking at losing you and becoming a single parent, all in one fell swoop.

    Rachael Burns of Belfast, Northern Ireland, is facing that exact reality. Eight months ago, she began experiencing headaches, dizzy spells and irritation in her eyes, according to Belfast Live. At first, doctors chalked it up to dehydrated eyes and she considered them migraines, but after an emergency trip to the hospital in early June 2024, Burns was diagnosed with diffuse midline glioma brain tumour—brain cancer with a rare, aggressive mutation that is spreading down her spine.


    Because of its size and where it's located, doctors said there is no way to even attempt an operation on it. Consultants told her that anyone who came in with her symptoms and that diagnosis generally had 9 to 12 months to live.

    "I’ve shown symptoms for the last eight," Burns told Belfast Live. “I was told to assume that that was the case and try to make the most of the next four months.

    “I left that appointment with no real hope and I didn’t know how to tell my mum and the rest of the family, I didn’t want them to get upset. It felt like everything had just been taken away from me at that point."

    Facing such a dire prediction, Burns began writing years' worth of birthday cards for her daughter, Raeya, who just had her first birthday. The only option appeared to be six weeks of radiotherapy, which would do little to help.

    But research into experimental therapies unveiled a ray of hope to buy more time with her family.

    "We've identified a potentially life-extending treatment in Germany, under the name of ONC201," the family shared on GoFundMe, "but it comes at a significant cost. Should Rachael qualify, we need funds to pay for travel costs, accommodation and the drugs themselves.

    "We refuse to let financial worries hinder Rachael's fight for her life or deprive her and her daughter of precious time together. Our goal is to ensure their comfort should the worst come to pass. No one should go from celebrating their child's first birthday to facing a terminal illness so swiftly."

    Not only did the local community of West Belfast turn out for this young family but people around the world did as well. In less than 24 hours, they'd raised £30,000 (approximately $38,000 U.S.).

    mom and dad holding baby in front of a birthday cake

    Donate to Support a young mother battling terminal cancer, organized by Rachael Burns.

    www.gofundme.com

    “I’m just totally overwhelmed by the response that we have got so far,” Rachael said. “Belfast is such a small place but you never think that people from all over would show as much kindness as they have done for me and my family. It is a scary time to be going through all of this but this has given me more hope that I can spend some more time with my family.”

    Burns told The Irish News that the treatment she's seeking in Germany has extended the life of people with her diagnosis by as much as 22 months. That may not sound like much time, but in the life of a small child, it's hugely significant.

    “My Raeya will always know just how much her mummy fought with everything in her power for even a quick glimpse of watching her grow into the beautiful, strong and kind girl I know she will be in this world," Burns said. “Situations are what you make of them and I refuse to just be another statistic.”

    While the future is uncertain for the Burns family, the money that's been raised gives her the best chance for a miracle. Any funds that don't go to Rachael's treatment will go into a bank account for young Raeya "to support her in life for if the time comes when she loses her mother."

    Find the GoFundMe here.

    Images provided by P&G

    Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

    True

    Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

    The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

    Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

    We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

    While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

    That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

    Strengthen their community

    Make a tangible and unique impact

    Go above and beyond day-to-day work

    The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

    Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

    Modern Families

    Twin brothers are turning heads while fulfilling their dreams as SeaWorld trainers

    Working with the animals has taught them a lot about connection.

    via SeaWorld (used with permission)

    Jakob and Westin Fenton at SeaWorld San Antonio.

    Visitors to SeaWorld Sea Antonio, Texas have been doing double takes for the past 5 years after running into identical twin brothers Westin and Jakob Fenton. Guests often catch Westin educating children about exotic birds as a member of the Animal Ambassadors team near the park’s entrance. Then, a few minutes later, spot Jakob in a wet suit at the Orca Encounter.

    “Every day it's like, 'Didn't I just see you?’” Westin told Upworthy. “It surprises them,” Jakob added. When Westin had braces, countless visitors frantically approached Jakob with a confused look, asking, “When did you get your braces off?”

    The 23-year-old twins have been turning heads at SeaWorld since they were young boys and began attending the park’s summer camps at 7.


    "They were the cutest. You could tell how obsessed they were with the animals. It made me so happy years later when they got hired here and to see how well they both do,” Kari Tomarelli, a trainer at Orca Encounter, shared with Upworthy.

    jakob fenton, westin fenton, seaworld san antonio

    Jakob and Westin Fenton at SeaWorld San Antonio.

    via SeaWorld (used with permission)

    From a very young age, the Fenton twins knew SeaWorld was more than just a place they visited—it was their destiny. "It was during my time away from SeaWorld that I realized, 'This is where I'm meant to be,'" Westin shared. "We've always been the twins who do everything together. Same friends, same passions, extracurriculars... everything,” Jakob added.

    So, pursuing the same career wasn’t a big stretch for the twins.

    The twins are incredibly close, but they also allow plenty of space for their animal companions at SeaWorld. Jakob spends a lot of his time, energy and heart caring for two of the park's five orcas: Kamea, a 10-year-old 3,000-pound female, and Tuar, the park’s dominant male, who is 24 years old and weighs over 8,000 pounds.

    The pair couldn’t be more different.

    "Tuar is very goofy; he has a great attitude," Jakob said, noting that even after a challenging training session, “he's just happy to be there.” Conversely, things haven’t been so easy with Kamea. “It took time to earn her trust, and it took months to develop a relationship,” Jakob admitted. “Now, I actually adore her."

    jakob fenton, westin fenton, seaworld san antonio

    Jakob Fenton at the Orca Encounter.

    via SeaWorld (used with permission)

    Even though park visitors see Jakob in a wetsuit, giving hand signals at the Orca Encounter presentation, most of his job takes place backstage, holding a scrubber. “Eighty percent of being a trainer is cleaning,” he told Upworthy. “We need to make sure that these animals are in a clean environment so our morning is 3 or 4 hours of maintaining habitats. Scrubbing ledges, cleaning glass, cleaning fish buckets."

    While Jakob's role as an orca trainer may seem glamorous, he sees it as a platform to serve the animals and educate guests. His responsibility is more significant given the scrutiny marine parks have been under in recent years and the fact that this is the last generation of orcas under SeaWorld's care.

    “Being able to introduce people who've never seen a killer whale and then have them walk away with an appreciation of the species and a desire to protect them in the wild means everything,” Jakob said.

    While Jakob is loading up buckets of salmon for the Orca Encounter, on the other side of the park, you’ll run into Westin, presenting one of SeaWorld San Antonio's 17 exotic animals—most of which were rescued and rehabilitated—to gawking park guests. As an Animal Ambassador, Westin educates guests about exotic reptiles, birds, and small mammals. He also travels with his animal companions to nearby schools, retirement homes and hospitals to introduce them to the public.

    jakob fenton, westin fenton, seaworld san antonio

    Westin Fenton and Azul at SeaWorld San Antonio.

    via Tod Perry (used with permission)

    When he’s not taking questions from park guests about his animal companions, such as Star the bald eagle or Azul the hyacinth macaw, he’s flashing his pearly (and recently straightened) whites for photos with guests. He estimates he poses for about 50 a day.

    While many would assume training means exerting authority over the animals to force them to do desired behaviors, Westin says it’s all about building relationships. "We're simply asking, 'Hey, would you like to come and participate?’ And Star has every opportunity to say no or to say yes,” he told Upworthy. “Everything is an ask. I'm not expecting Star to do anything. Whatever Star would like, we do."

    Even though people have difficulty telling the twins apart, the animals can tell the difference. "They learn our behavior just like we learn theirs,” he told Upworthy.

    The twins spend much of their lives together at SeaWorld and as Pilates instructors on the side, so what sets them apart? "Westin is a little more tamed. More reserved and to himself. Whereas Jakob is the life of the party,” Cesi Buitrago, a trainer at Orca Encounter, said. They also have one big difference in diet: Westin can’t stand cheese on his burger, but Jakob loves it.

    jakob fenton, westin fenton, seaworld san antonio

    The Fenton twins with a beluga whale.

    via SeaWorld (used with permission)

    For the Fenton twins, life at SeaWorld has taught them a lot about the animal kingdom, but it has also changed how they see humans.

    “I had no idea the impact these whales would have on my life and how they would teach me how to be a better human and mentor,” Jakob told Upworthy. “Building my relationships with them, I can use what I've learned when thinking about developing a relationship with a human. They teach me to be patient, to listen, to invest, to really get to know someone. Don’t fake it. I never would have imagined all of these life skills I would have learned from killer whales."

    It’s no surprise that Westin has come away with a similar lesson.

    "So much of what we do is relationships. [The animals] have taught me what it takes to get to know someone; they’ve taught me patience, just really connecting on a deeper level,” Westin says. “I've learned a lot about life and, ultimately, connection."

    Brielle Asero lost her job after 2 months.

    TikTokker Brielle Asero, 21, a recent college graduate, went viral on TikTok in October for her emotional reaction to the first day at a 9-to-5 job. The video, which received 3.4 million views, captured the public’s attention because it was like a cultural Rorschach test.

    Some who saw the video thought that Asero came off as entitled and exemplified the younger generation’s lack of work ethic. In contrast, others sympathized with the young woman who is just beginning to understand how hard it is to find work-life balance in modern-day America.

    “I’m so upset,” she says in the video. "I get on the train at 7:30 a.m., and I don't get home until 6:15 p.m. [at the] earliest. I don't have time to do anything!" Asero said in a video.


    “I don’t have the time to do anything,” she continued. “I want to shower, eat my dinner, and go to sleep. I don’t have the time or energy to cook my dinner either. I don’t have energy to work out, like, that’s out of the window. I’m so upset, oh my god.”

    @brielleybelly123

    im also getting sick leave me alone im emotional ok i feel 12 and im scared of not having time to live

    On December 16, Asero gave an update on her professional life, and sadly, things aren’t going too well. After just 2 months on the job, she was laid off. It had taken her 5 months to find the job and she had recently relocated to New York City to be near the office.

    "I worked for a startup, and they didn't have the workload or the bandwidth they needed to train me and to give me work to do," she said. Being laid off during the holidays makes Asero's situation even more difficult because most employers are closed for business in late December and early January.

    Asero had some stern words for those who would blame her for losing her job.

    "I know that I'm a hard worker, and my boss literally said that I'm one of the smartest people he's ever had working under him, and he knows that I'm going to land on my feet, and he will give me a great referral to anybody, so don't start," she warned.

    @brielleybelly123

    can someone tell me im going to be okay !!!! feels like the world is ending i need a job immediatley i am feeling so lost rn like i moved for this...!?

    "I have done everything I possibly could have, and it's still not enough," she said. To supplement her income while looking for her next big break, Asero says she will look for work as a server or nanny.

    Even though Asero took a lot of criticism for crying after her first day at work, the comments on the new video were overwhelmingly positive and supportive. There were also a lot of people who shared how they had recently been laid off, too.

    "Just want to note that there’s no shame in taking a service job while you’re still looking. You’re going to be okay, you got this," Baby bel wrote. "It happened to me, seems like ur life is ending, but I promise it's just getting started. You’ll laugh about it at some point," Rachie added.


    This article originally appeared on 12.22.23












    via Wikimedia Commons

    Craig Ferguson was the host of "The Late Late Show" on CBS from 2005 to 2014. He's probably best remembered for his stream-of-conscious, mostly improvised monologues that often veered from funny observations to more serious territory.

    In 2009, he opened his show explaining how marketers have spent six decades persuading the public into believing that youth should be deified. To Ferguson, it's the big reason "Why everything sucks."



    "In the 1950s, late '50s, early '60s, a bunch of advertising guys got together on Madison Avenue and decided to try to sell products to younger people. 'We should try to sell to younger people because then they will buy things their whole lives,'" Ferguson explained.

    The problem is, according to Ferguson, that young people are "kind of stupid."

    "So the deification of youth evolved and turned into the deification of imbecility. It became fashionable to be young and to be stupid," he continued.

    'Why everything sucks'

    On a deeper level, Ferguson makes the point that exalting youth and inexperience over wisdom and experience runs contrary to the way of nature.

    "Then what happened is that people were frightened to not be young," he said. "They started dyeing their hair, they started mutilating their faces and their bodies in order to look young. But you can't be young forever, that's against the laws of the universe."

    Calling marketers' war on the over-49 set the reason why "everything sucks" may be a bit of an exaggeration. But the takeaway from Ferguson's monologue is spot-on. There's no reason to feel bad about aging. You've got experience, wisdom, probably better credit, and have learned that Saturdays are a lot more fun after you've been to bed by 10:00 pm on Friday.


    This article originally appeared on 2.17.22

    John Arthur Greene (left) and his brother Kevin


    A childhood game can go very wrong in the blink of an eye.

    "You'll never get me!"

    “Freeze! Put your hands up."

    If you've ever played cops and robbers, you know how the game goes.


    John Arthur Greene was 8 and he was playing that game with his older brother Kevin. Only the two brothers played with real guns. Living on a farm, they were both old hands at handling firearms by their ages.

    The blast from the gun must have startled them both.

    firearms, family, children

    John Arthur Greene (left) and his brother Kevin.

    Image from "American Idol"/YouTube.

    “We were always extremely safe. They were never loaded," John said.

    Except this time it was. And John's brother died in his arms while he watched.

    It happens more often than you would ever want to imagine.

    In federal data from 2007 to 2011, which is likely under-reported, an average of 62 children were accidentally killed by firearms per year.

    Here's a chilling example from Everytown for Gun Safety:

    "In Asheboro, North Carolina, a 26-year-old mother was cleaning her home when she heard a gunshot. Rushing into the living room, she discovered that her three-year-old son had accidentally shot her boyfriend's three-year-old daughter with a .22-caliber rifle the parents had left in the room, loaded and unlocked."

    And the numbers may actually be getting worse.

    With an increase in unfettered access to guns and philosophical opposition to gun regulations, the numbers seem to be on the rise. Here's how many accidental shootings happened at the hands of children in 2015 alone, by age:

    gun safety, laws, research data on gun deaths

    Unintentional Firearm Injuries & Deaths, 2015.

    From January 19-26 of 2016 — just one week — at least seven kids were accidentally shot by another kid.

    American Idol, guilt and sorrow, accidental shootings

    Accidental shootings of kids in one week, January 2016.

    If the pace holds up for the rest of the year, America would be looking at over 300 accidental shootings of children, in many cases by children, for the year. That's far too many cases of children either carrying the guilt and pain of having shot a loved one or hurting or killing themselves by accident.

    John Arthur Greene has been able to manage his feelings of guilt and sorrow through music and by sharing his story for others to hear.

    He told his story during an audition for the final season of "American Idol." He says music has helped him keep his brother's memory alive:

    "Right now I lift him up every day and he holds me up. Music is how I coped with everything."

    It's a powerful reminder. No matter how we each feel about gun safety laws, guns should always be locked away unloaded and kept separately from ammunition.

    Our babies are too precious to leave it to chance.

    Watch John Arthur Greene's audition for "American Idol" here:

    This article originally appeared on 03.07.16