At 16 most teens are getting their driver’s license and going on their first dates, but that’s not the case for this young Oklahoma City teenager. On May 21, 2012, Avery Mayers, along with a co-defendant, shot eight people who were severely injured outside of the Chesapeake Arena during the NBA playoff game of the OKC Thunder vs. LA Lakers. What would cause a teenager to open fire in a crowd of 7,000 – 9,000 innocent people?

Thankfully, this particular shooting had nothing to do with the actual Thunder gathering. It just happened at the wrong place at the wrong time and Thunder fans had to pay the price.

“We're very disappointed. I think the entire city was excited about the basketball win, and to see the results that took place on the streets a little bit later I think put a cloud over the entire evening,” said Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. “We're trying to figure out now what to do to try and diminish the chances that it might happen again.”

When most teenagers would choose a fist fight to end an argument, many teens are now getting their hands on guns and settling arguments in a very dangerous way. Gun violence has changed the face of conflict in schools and teenage gatherings. Although the number of homicides in schools is relatively small, there are teens that lack the skills to prevent anger, have no trusted adult to turn to, and have access to firearms. This mix of problems can have fatal consequences.

Here are five ideas to help you prevent your child from turning to guns for revenge:

  1. Keep your firearms and ammunition locked up and educated your children on gun safety
  2. Take an active role in your child’s life – school or home. Volunteer and spend quality time with them so you know exactly what is going on in their lives. Communication is key when letting your child know they can openly talk to you about any concerns or issues within a judge-free zone.
  3. Act as role models to your children. Settle your own conflicts peaceably and manage anger without violence.
  4. Set clear limits on behaviors in advance. Discuss punishments and rewards in advance and know that consistency helps teach self-discipline.
  5. Communicate clearly on the violence issue. Explain that you don’t accept and won’t tolerate violent behavior. Discuss what violence is and is not. Answer questions thoughtfully and listen to your child’s ideas and concerns.

Mayers was showing warning signs all along. According to court documents, Mayers never had a chance to live as a normal teenager. He grew up with seven brothers and sisters, in a home where violence was an every night occurrence.

Mayers was also suspended from school for breaking a classmate’s wrist. Even though he has never been arrested before and doesn’t have a record, would he be prosecuted as an adult due to the violence of his crime?

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