June 21st is the first day of summer! Ahhhhh, summer! It’s the time of year where families reunite across the miles. Vacations are spent in relatives’ homes and the kids have an endless stream of playdates with friends. We become more relaxed with bed time and even meal time. But as parents, our responsibilities don’t take a back seat to summer fun. We must remain vigilant, we have to be our children’s advocates, voices and protectors. We have to ASK the tough questions to ensure our children’s safety! This is why June 21st is also National ASK Day, because ASKING SAVES KIDS!
The ASK Campaign is a collaboration between the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the American Academy of Pediatrics. On June 21st (and every day), parents are urged to ASK if there are unlocked firearms in the home where their child will play.
I recently wrote an article titled “Ten Questions You MUST Ask Before a Play Date!” The article resonated with one of our local pediatricians, Dr. Sara Connolly. I sat down with Dr. Sara to discuss the importance of National ASK Day, and what we can do as mothers to spread the message and keep our kids safe. Dr. Sara is also a mother with two young children, so she approaches this campaign both as a parent and as an educator in her role as a Pediatrician.
Dr. Sara shared with me how she has worked tirelessly the past few weeks to rally the local pediatricians to get behind her to spread the message of National ASK Day in the community and through print media.
She went on to explain how pediatricians play an vital role in the lives of their patients. In a good doctor/ parent relationship the pediatrician becomes a parental mentor. During well-visits the pediatrician starts a dialog covering hot button topics they refer to as “Anticipatory Guidance”. The discussion changes as the child gets older, but it starts during the very first infant well-visits and continues through toddlerhood and past the teenage years.
[bctt tweet=”#AskingSavesKids! I ask, do you? Start the dialog before it’s too late! #AskDay”]
In the early years, Dr. Sara and fellow pediatricians remind parents to child-proof their homes. They discuss smoking around children and other environmental dangers. The conversation quickly turns to keeping the home safe, including firearm storage. Pediatricians remind parents that firearms should be properly stored in a locked cabinet, with the ammunition stored and locked separately. This topic is brought up early, as curious toddlers have an innate ability to know where everything is in the home, even if they haven’t told their parents.
Dr. Sara and I agreed that the ASK Campaign is a great way to start an important dialog before playdates or visits to a relative’s house. The conversation is meant to take place between the parents, but that does not negate the importance of educating the children before they are ever put in a position where they find a firearm. Children should be urged to NEVER touch a firearm and to inform an adult ASAP if they find one.
The statistics that Dr. Sara shared with me where beyond comprehension:
- Every 36 hours a child accidentally pulls a trigger.
- One out of three homes with children has guns, many left unlocked or loaded.
- Nine children and teens are shot each day in gun accidents.
- 80% of unintentional firearm deaths of children under 15 occur in a home.
- Guns are the second leading cause of death for children and teenagers.
- In Florida, an estimated 248,430 or 6.5 percent of youth live in a household with a loaded firearm.
As a concerned parent, how do you broach this topic without offending the other mother? Dr. Sara and I role-played a few times to cover all scenarios, and we agreed on the following:
- Before the playdate or visit, tell the hostess about any allergies, medical conditions or anxieties your child may have. You can then bring up any safety questions you may have, as they will naturally fit into the conversation.
- “I just want to mention that little Billy is allergic to peanuts and he is deathly afraid of large dogs. Do you have any dogs? Little Billy is also a curious and inquisitive 6 year old. He is into weapons of any kind. Do you have any unlocked firearms in the house?”
- If asked in a nonjudgemental way, no parent should get offended by the question, nor should they hesitate to answer.
- If you are not comfortable with the answer you receive, don’t hesitate to offer a change of venue for the playdate: either your house or at a playground.
- Remember: you are not asking to snoop or judge. You are asking to keep your child safe!
Please join us on July 21st (and every day there after) to ASK parents the one question that can keep your child from becoming a heart breaking statistic.
Want to know more? Please go to AskingSavesKids for more information on this campaign and how you can keep your children and community safe.
*** Please share in the comments: How would you react if a parent didn’t answer your question about safe firearm storage in their home? ***
Don’t miss this post (AND the FREE printable, perfect for play dates!)
Dandi D says
This is all good to know–you’d rather be safe than sorry!
Mama in the Now says
Thank you, Lynne! I appreciate it! I felt very connected to the National Ask Day campaign because it is not political, it is not judgmental. It is simply meant to save kids from unnecessary harm! I appreciate your support!
Any responsible gun owner will immediately answer that of course her guns are locked in a gun safe. If someone got upset about being asked how she stores her guns, or hesitated when answering, I would never leave my kids there. Also, you have to ask about guns in the home even if you’re not dropping your kids off, because the kids will likely be playing in areas of the house out of your sight, and they could find the guns. Don’t forget to ask if they keep a gun in their car! In AZ I know tons of people do! Make sure you teach your kids what to do if they ever do come across a gun: Stop. Don’t Touch. Walk away. Tell an adult.
Mama in the Now says
Carissa – I love that: “stop. don’t touch. walk away. tell an adult” – that’s such great advice! I agree – responsible gun owners won’t mind answering the question. Thank you for sharing your advice!
When we moved to AZ from CA, one of the first things I did was take my kids to a gun safety course — that’s where I learned the 4-step action plan for kids if they find a gun. I still quiz them on it from time to time!
Kristen M. says
Those are some scary statistics. I imagine they’re a bit different here in Canada, but this is a question I wouldn’t even have thought to ask (among the many other important ones) when my children start going on play dates.
So far I haven’t let my kids play at a friend’s house without me there. Most of our play dates are with my friends and family, and even then they’re so young we have our eyes on them! Most of the folks we hang with aren’t gun owners but you never know! I have one friend who does own guns but we haven’t hung out in a while.
Wow! those are some shocking statistics! Thanks so much for sharing…I never would have known how likely it would be that my child would be in danger at a friend’s home!
Myra B says
Great article. Thilovesan important topic especially in the South were I live. Most people in rural areas where we are have hunting guns. My other family where my kids play all have gun safes. I have had conversations about this subject and other parents get what your trying to say if said as a concerned parent. I make sure my kids know guns aren’t toys and say it often especially with one of my twins who likes Nerf guns. Start early.
when we were kids we new not to touch any type of gun if they had any around we were tought that with gun you go hunting and that it
Melissa G says
The statistics are very depressing! All these could have been prevented by locking guns away! Also, if people would take the time to teach gun safety at an early age some might be prevented. My husbands parents never let him pretend to shoot people with toy guns or even a finger gun. If everyone worked rogether on this I’m sure most if not all of these accidents could be avoided.
Melissa H. says
This is so very relevant! I’m always worried about firearms in the home. I’d be wary of letting my child go to another child’s home that has a firearm, especially if the parent doesn’t answer if I ask about it.
1 out of 3 homes with children has guns? Wow…I never knew this. These stats are incredible and eye opening…