A gun, found by a child, can change lives forever in just a few moments. On ASK Day, June 21, parents are reminded to ask other parents if there is a gun in the home where their child is going to play.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) helped to start ASK Day, which is led by the Center to Prevent Youth Violence, to prevent injuries and deaths from guns that are stored unsafely in homes.
About 1/3 of homes with kids have guns, many left unlocked or loaded. Just talking to your child about the dangers of firearms is not enough. Children are naturally curious. If a gun is accessible in someone’s home, there is a good chance a child will find it and play with it. Countless tragedies have occurred when kids found guns that parents thought were well hidden or safely stored.
The message of the ASK campaign to parents is this: if your child is going to play or hang out at a home where he hasn’t been before, ask if there is a gun in that home. If the answer is no, that’s one less thing to worry about. If the answer is yes, then you need to ask how the gun is stored—it should be stored in a locked location and unloaded. Ammunition should be locked up separately. If you are not comfortable with the answers, you should invite the other child to play at your house instead.
“Keeping children and teens safe from preventable injuries is one of the most important things we do as pediatricians,” said AAP President Thomas K. McInerny, MD, FAAP. “We ask parents about guns just as we ask about swimming pools, poisons, car seats, and other safety issues. Parents should feel comfortable asking each other about these things as well.”
Asking this simple question is an important step every parent can take to help their kids stay safe. The ASK Campaign offers tips for parents to make the conversation easier.
The AAP remains committed to reducing gun injuries to children, and advocates for stronger gun laws, comprehensive access to mental health care, and necessary funding for federal gun violence research and prevention efforts.
For information on ASK Day 2013 on June 21, 2013, please visit the ASK Day page here.