Asking Saves Kids

I-ASK-Website-LogoI had a litany of questions I asked other parents in preparation for my sons going over to play. I raised my children in the dark ages, back when they walked or road their bikes to go play at friends’ houses. If I didn’t know the parents or the house, inevitably I’d call the parent and ask:

  • Is there a dog?
  • Is there a fence around the pool?
  • Who else is invited to play?
  • Is there a safety lock on the medicine cabinet?
  • Will you be there?

never thought to ask if there was a firearm where the kids would be playing or if there were guns of any sort at the house!

The first day of summer, June 21, is ASK Day. Kids are out of school and play more often in other homes. ASK Day, Asking Saves Kids, is to remind parents nationwide about the importance of asking if there are guns where their kids play.

Here are some startling facts:

  • An average of 8 kids and teens are killed by firearms every day and 42 additional children and teens are seriously injured (Injury Mortality Reports, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC, 2010; 2011).
  • 27 children and teens are seriously injured by BB or pellet guns every day (Injury Mortality Reports, 2011).
  • Studies show that between 33% and 40% of American households with children have guns (Johnson, Renee, “Firearm Ownership and Storage Practices, U.S. Households, 1992-2002.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 27, 2004; Peter Hart Research Associates Poll, 1999, American Journal of Public Health, April 2000).
  • 1 in 4 kids and teens whose parents own guns say they have seen or touched a gun without their parents’ knowledge. (Global Strategy Group Youth Study commissioned by CPYV, 2011).
  • Almost 90 percent of accidental shootings involving children are linked to an easy-to-find, loaded handgun in the house (Society of Pediatric Nurses, 1998).
  • 80% of the children who are injured or killed in unintentional shootings are shot in their own homes or in the homes of relatives or friends (Pediatrics 2005).
  • 42% of parents with guns keep at least one unlocked; 25% keep at least one loaded, and 14% keep one unlocked AND loaded (Global Strategy Group Parent Study commissioned by CPYV, 2011).
  • Over 75% of kids in homes with guns say they know where the gun is hidden (Benenson Strategy Group Study commissioned by PAX, July 2002).

As horrifying as these statistics are, the heart-wrenching real stories of parents brings home this reality. Hear, in their own words, spokespeople from the Center to Prevent Youth Violence:

  • Diana and James Bunten kept a loaded gun in their home where their children could find it.
  • Karen Berard-Reed’s family was visiting the home of friends whose children had a loaded pellet gun near the computer.
  • Mylissa Bellamy’s son was spending the night at a friend’s house. Unbeknownst to the friend’s mother, her son brought home a gun after hunting with his grandfather.
  • Loralee Choate’s husband, who has a concealed carry permit, got distracted after unloading and holstering his gun, and forgot to lock it up.
  • Ge Wu’s honor’s student son shot himself with a gun his friend had taken from the house without his mother’s knowledge.
  • Ann Marie Crowell’s son was at a friend’s house. His friend was excited to show him the gun he found in his mother’s room.
  • Sonya Barge’s was picking up her toddler from the babysitter. The babysitter’s own child found a gun…

Take the time to ASK before it’s too late. Here are some ideas for how to start the conversation:

  • “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?….”
  • “Remember what we found in our houses when we were kids!”

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