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A TIME for Kids reporter is speaking out about his school shooting question that made White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders choke up during a press briefing on Wednesday when he asked about what the Administration plans to do about school shootings.

Benje Choucroun, 13, said he was surprised Sanders called on him during the briefing. “Sarah Huckabee Sanders was addressing most of the journalists by their first name, and I was new to the press briefing room,” Choucroun said.

When called upon, Choucroun read out the following question: “One thing that affects my and other students’ mental health is the worry about the fact that we or our friends could get shot at school. Specifically, can you tell me what the Administration has done and will do to prevent these senseless tragedies?”

Sanders responded with emotion and said she was sorry Choucroun felt that way. The TIME for Kids reporter, who has been in the program since last September, said he understood why she would get emotional.

“She has kids, and the thought of her kids being away where they could get shot would be enough to make any parent emotional,” he said. “Kids are the ones who are in danger at school, and it means more when a kid asks the question.”

An aspiring journalist, Choucroun said successful reporters should be able to put aside their preconceived notions when they cover a story. “Report on what’s happening, not what you already think,” he said.

Choucroun, a seventh-grader from Marin County, Calif., also offered tips on avoiding fake news, including using common sense with absurd-sounding reports, cross referencing different news sources and reading reliable outlets.

The TIME for Kids program runs with a new crop of kids every school year. The contest for the next group is live on our website now, if parents want to encourage their kids to apply. See details here.

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Write to Mahita Gajanan at

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