The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence have launched the ASK (Asking Saves Kids) campaign to encourage parents to ask if there is a locked, loaded gun in the home before a child goes out for a playdate. According to the AAP, one out of three homes with children in the U.S. has a gun, nearly 1.7 million children live in a home with a loaded, unlocked gun. Every year, thousands of kids are killed and injured as a result.
Parents ask all sorts of questions before their children visit other homes, says Gary Smith, M.D., a spokesman for the AAP and the president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance in Columbus, Ohio. Parents ask about pool safety and pets, discuss allergies and Internet access, and ask questions about supervision. ASK encourages parents to add one more question to this conversation: “Is there an unlocked gun in your house?” It’s a simple question, but it has the power to save a child’s life.”
Tanya Miller, M.D., a pediatrician in Westlake Village, California and a spokesman for the AAP, says those steps are critical to keeping kids safe. Miller also suggests asking who s will be watching the kids and what the kids will be doing. “Just asking a few simple questions can help ensure that your children are safe when they are out of your sight,” says Miller.
According to AAP guidance:
- Hiding guns is not enough because children will look for and handle them.
- Simply teaching children to stay away from guns does not help, according to research on gun avoidance programs. In fact, these children might be more likely to handle a gun.
- The most effective way to reduce firearm-related injuries and death is to keep guns out of homes and communities. If guns cannot be removed, parents should be sure they are stored safely away from children and teens.
The AAP has also released a toolkit on preventing gun injuries and deaths in children.