Today is National ASK Day. It’s the first day of summer and The PediaBlog has been here before:
This one question could save your child’s life some day:
“Is there an unlocked gun where my child plays?”
Maybe as a parent you think this question in your head. Just like you might wonder whether there will be a parent at the house your child is visiting, or whether or not an adult hosting your peanut-allergic child knows when and how to administer an EpiPen, or whether your child will be properly restrained in the proper car seat or seat belt by another parent, it’s never a bad idea to ask.
Asking Saves Kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence are collaborating to remind parents and caregivers of the importance of asking if there are guns in homes where their children play:
“Millions of Americans have guns in their homes thinking it makes their family safer, but every day across our country, parents learn how incredibly tragic that misperception can be,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, united with the Million Mom March. “The bottom line is a gun in a home with kids dramatically increases the chance that a child in that home will be wounded or killed, either by suicide or a preventable accident. There are simple things all parents can do to keep their kids safe. One of them is to ask if there’s an unlocked gun where your child plays.”
In a land awash in “alternative facts,” “fake news,” and blatant lies, here is the evidence-based reality in America today:
Children have easy access to guns:
— 1 in 3 homes with children have guns. Many of these are loaded or unlocked (or both).
— 3 in 4 children ages 5-14 know where firearms are kept in the home. Kids are curious and resourceful; hiding guns is not a safe plan.
— 80% of unintentional (accidental) firearm deaths of children under 15 years old occur in a home.
Easy access to guns can lead to tragic consequences for children:
— More than 17,000 of America’s youth are injured or killed each year due to gun violence.
— Gun violence is the second leading cause of death among children and teenagers.
— 1.7 million children in the U.S. live in a home with a loaded, unlocked gun.
A gun in the home increases the risk of homicide, suicide, and accidental injury and death.
Pediatrician Kristen Stuppy suggests this icebreaker for a subject many parents find awkward:
Be the first to ask a child to your home. With the invitation, list everything you think another parent might be interested in knowing. Hopefully they will reciprocate by giving similar information when they invite your kids over, but if not, ask.
“We’d love to have Johnny over. We have a German Shepard, but he’s really good with kids. If Johnny needs him to be put in the master bedroom, just let me know. We also have a trampoline, but if the kids get on it, a parent is always outside. If that’s not okay, let me know. And we have a rifle, but it’s in the gun safe and the ammunition is locked separately. Is there anything we need to know about Johnny?”
Awkward or not, ASKING SAVES KIDS.
“It never hurts to ask,” said my mother all the time.
So don’t be intimidated or shy. Just ASK: “Is there an unlocked gun where my child plays?” Asking might just save their life.