Keeping Kids Safe: Gun Safety

Keeping Kids Safe: Gun Safety

As a pediatrician, when I care for my patients, I recognize that every family is unique. This includes respecting and accepting the family’s values and beliefs, and the environment in which they live. But, to provide the very best care that I can, it is critical to help families ensure their home is safe and supportive for everyone, even when the topic might be controversial, like with guns.

According to the Academy of Pediatrics, firearm-related deaths continue as one of the top three causes of death in American youth. You can learn more about the AAP’s policy statement on firearm-related injuries, but what I would like to do is focus on how to keep your kids safe, especially if there is a gun in the home.

How to Keep Your Kids Safe

  1. Store your guns safely. Lock them. Keeping your arms locked and unloaded provides about a 70 percent reduction in risk.

2. Educate yourself about what is safe for your family and your particular circumstances.

3. Educate yourself specifically about gun safety, especially if your family is “around” guns. Look at websites. Ask your pediatrician.

4. Become aware of who in your child’s circle of friends may have guns. Hunting is well-respected tradition in many families. As you prepare for a play date for your child, routinely ask if the host has guns and if they are safely locked away and are unloaded. Two children at play with a “hidden” gun can be quite dangerous.

5. Part of our education regarding gun safety as adults should involve HOW we want to educate our children regarding gun safety. What do you want to tell your child about guns? Such education invariably will depend on your own family’s culture.

6. Think about sources of “unseen” violence that may seep into your child’s environment: movies, games and social media.

7. Set up a plan with your child so if they are at a location where a gun is brought out or they feel they are in an unsafe situation, tell them to leave and call you.

Remember, our goal is to help keep kids safe and empower them to make smart decisions.