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Gun Safety — Talking with Your Neighbors
When our children go to another house to play, we may ask the parents to limit the snacks, limit the TV, and make sure they have sunscreen on if they go outside. But very few think to check if there is a gun in the house and how it's stored.
Two in five of all U.S. households with children have guns in the house, and one-quarter of those guns are kept loaded. So, chances are your child will be, or has already been, playing in a home with a gun.
Before you send children over to play at a friend's house, ask their parents whether they have a gun in the home, and if so, how it is stored. All guns must be unloaded and locked. The ammunition must be locked and stored separately. Hiding guns or putting on the "safety" is not enough. There are countless tragic stories of kids finding guns that parents thought were well hidden.
The Asking Saves Kids (ASK) Campaign offers these suggestions:
To ensure the safety of children, we need to make sure all gun-owning homes where our children visit or play do three things:
Article provided courtesy of Common Sense About Kids and Guns.
Additional resources about the importance of talking to your neighbors about how they store their firearms are provided on their web site. The Spanish translation of this article was provided by the Early Childhood Information Clearinghouse, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
Talking with Your Kids
It is vital that parents talk to their children about guns, but this can be a difficult conversation to have. The discussion must be age-appropriate and offer children clear instructions about avoiding guns without adult supervision.
Children are naturally curious, especially when it comes to guns. Parents should not lull themselves into a false sense of security on this matter, even if they have spoken to their children about guns. As Judy Shaw, Director of the Injury Prevention Program at Children’s Hospital in Boston, noted, "any small child who picks up a gun . . . is going to put a finger on the trigger and click it."
All parents must take common sense steps to protect children both by talking to them about guns and by unloading and locking all guns so that a child or teen cannot access them without direct adult supervision.
Talking to Young Children
Experts advise parents to reassure children that, as parents, they are doing their best to keep children safe. Children can be exposed to a good amount of violence by the media, especially from TV and movies. It is important to teach children that this is not real and that guns cause real injuries.
Emphasize to them that they should never touch a gun and should always tell an adult if they come across one. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends repeating this message periodically to keep children from forgetting. See the full article for tips on talking with older children here.
ASK (Asking Saves Kids) — Ask neighbors about guns in the home before sending children there to play.
Firearms — National Safe Kids campaign.
Weapon Play — Tips for Parents and Child Care Providers — Re-channel energy of children who are vigorously experimenting with weapon play at home or in child care settings.