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Reduce the Risk of Gun Injury

​Children love to explore. As they learn new skills, like crawling, walking, climbing, or running, there are more ways of getting into trouble! Much of this trouble will be small. But, if there is a gun in the house, a child's curiosity can lead to severe injury or death.

  • FACT: Nearly 40% of the homes with children in the United States have a gun.

  • FACT: Children as young as 3 years may be strong enough to pull the trigger on a handgun.

  • FACT: Every other day, on average, an American child under age 10 is killed or disabled with a gun.

Parents Need to Ask. Asking Saves Kids.

Even if you do not own a gun, ask your neighbors, friends, and family if they do before your child visits their homes. If they don't, that's one less thing you have to worry about.

If they do, keep your child away from homes where there are guns or where guns are not stored safely. Sometimes it can be hard for a parent to ask about guns. One mother asks this way, "My child is very curious. Do you have guns or anything dangerous that he might get into?" Some people may not agree with you, but it's important that you talk with them about your concerns.

Here are some tips to make asking about guns easier:

Commonly Asked Questions:​

Q: "With so much violence, isn't it safer for me to have a handgun in my home to protect my family?"

  • A: No. In homes with handguns, it is much more likely that the handgun will be used to shoot a family member or friend than in self-defense. Every year, thousands of Americans are seriously injured or killed when:

    • A child finds a gun or is showing a friend the gun kept at home and, without meaning to, pulls the trigger.

    • A depressed teenager or adult becomes suicidal. Studies show the risk of suicide is 4 to 10 times higher in homes with guns than in those without. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents of adolescents at risk for suicide remove guns and ammunition from the house.

    • An argument between family members gets out of control.

    • A friend or family member is mistaken for an intruder.

Q: "Can't I just hide my gun and teach my child not to touch it?"

  • A: No. Children need better protection from guns.

    • Exploring and playing are the ways children learn about the world, and any child's curiosity and urge to discover new things can overcome a parent's warnings.

    • Young children simply do not understand how dangerous guns can be and are not able to tell the difference between toy guns and real guns.

    • If you do own a firearm, the AAP recommends it be kept locked up, with the ammunition stored separately.

AAP Gun Safety Infographic - 2017

Gun Violence in the Media:

By the time children reach middle school, they may have watched as many as 8,000 murders and 100,000 other acts of virtual violence through the media.

Studies show kids who experience more violence in their virtual worlds—television, movies, and video games—are more likely to display aggressive thoughts, aggressive behavior, and angry feelings in the real world. 

The AAP recommends parents protect children under age 6 from all virtual violence, because they cannot always distinguish fantasy from reality. Additionally, parents should be mindful of their child's media consumption, and should co-view media and co-play games with their children.

Additional Information & Resources:

Last Updated
Adapted from Connected Kids: Safe, Strong, Secure (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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