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Please: ask if there is a gun where your child plays

Posted by Dr. Claire McCarthy  June 21, 2013 07:36 AM

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Here are some statistics all parents should know about:
  • Between 33 and 40 percent of American households with children have guns. 
  • 42 percent of parents with guns keep at least one unlocked, 25 percent keep at least one loaded and 14 percent keep one unlocked and loaded.
  • 88 percent of children who are injured or killed in unintentional shootings are shot in their own homes or in the homes or relatives or friends.
Thumbnail image for ask button.jpg
That's why the Center to Prevent Youth Violence (CPYV) reminds parents every June 21st to do something really simple: ask if there is a gun where your child plays. They call it ASK day: Asking Saves Kids.

This isn't about anybody's right to own a gun. This is about safety. 

If your child is going to play or stay at someone else's house, just ask if they have a gun. If they do, ask how it is stored. The answer should be that it is kept locked, unloaded, with ammunition locked separately. 

When I talk to parents about this, sometimes I hear that they feel awkward asking. Here are some conversation starters from CPYV:
  • "We all know how curious kids can be..."
  • "I hope you don't mind me asking a few questions about the kids' safety..."
  • "I heard the most surprising fact from my pediatrician..."
  • "Do you remember that tragic story about the kids who found a gun?..."
  • "All of us on the PTA have committed to making sure our kids are safe..."
  • "Remember what we found in our houses when we were kids!"
If you aren't comfortable with the answers to your questions, don't let your child go there. Just like you shouldn't let them play at a house with an unsecured pool or other safety hazards. Like I said, this is about safety; it's our responsibility to keep our children safe.

Here are a couple of PSA's that bring the point home (each is short, only about 30 seconds--watch both):
 





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About MD Mama

Claire McCarthy, M.D., is a pediatrician and Medical Communications Editor at Boston Children's Hospital . An assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a senior editor for Harvard More »

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