With a new installment of JAMA Pediatrics Patient Page, Dr. Megan A. Moreno sets her sight on the target of “Keeping Children and Adolescents Safe From Firearms”:
Firearm-related deaths continue to be one of the top 3 causes of death among US children and adolescents.
Of all injury deaths of youths 15 to 19 years of age in the United States in 2009, more than 1 in 4 were related to firearms (28.7%). Firearm-related deaths are associated with unintentional shootings, suicides, and homicides.
Let that sink in for just a moment.
Dr. Moreno has some advice for preventing injuries and deaths from firearms in children and teens:
- If you have a gun in your home, store it safely. A number of options exist, including trigger locks, lockboxes, and gun safes. These devices still allow guns to be available for home protection. Storing ammunition separately from the firearm is also important. Research studies have found that storing guns safely can lower the risk of firearm-related injury and death by approximately 70%. “Hiding” guns from children does not work.
- If there is a depressed person in the home, it may be appropriate to remove the guns from the home, at least for a period of time.
- Gun safety programs are designed to educate children and adolescents about how to be safe around firearms; however, research studies have found that these programs do not prevent risk behaviors and may even increase the chances of the handling of firearms among children and adolescents.
- Reduce the level of exposure to violence [from both real-life domestic violence at home and violence in media] for children and adolescents.
- Programs that teach children and adolescents to work out problems without violence have had positive results. However, the programs need to be designed specifically to a child’s or adolescent’s age and situation to be effective.
More from JAMA Pediatrics here