In America, one out of three homes with children has a gun, and 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.
The ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Campaign, a partnership of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, promotes a simple idea with the potential to help keep kids safe. It encourages parents to ASK if there are unlocked guns in the homes where their children play.
Parents ask all sorts of questions before their children visit other homes. They 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.
According to AAP President James M. Perrin, MD, FAAP, "All parents care about the safety of their children. The ASK campaign helps parents talk with each other comfortably about guns in the home. Any parent can make a difference by asking this question and encouraging others in their community to do the same."
The campaign features many new, relatable tools
to raise awareness of this safety issue, and to help parents with having the safety conversation. There is advice for parents about what to do and say if there is an unlocked gun in someone's home.
The AAP recommends:
- Make sure all guns are stored unloaded and locked, preferably in a gun safe, with ammunition locked away separately. Hiding guns is not enough because children will look for and handle them. Preventing access to guns is important, because firearm injuries often are deadly.
- 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, the AAP says. If guns cannot be removed, parents should be sure they are stored safely away from children and teens. For more than a decade, the ASK Campaign has partnered with more than 400 grassroots organizations to spread its message in neighborhoods nationwide. The campaign has successfully inspired 19 million households to ask if there are guns where their children play.
The AAP is asking pediatricians, parents and the media to join the ASK Day effort this year, and to spread the word in their communities. A tool kit featuring videos, infographics, a pledge, and more can be found at http://askingsaveskids.org/get-involved
Follow the AAP on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ameracadpeds
during the week leading up to ASK Day to engage in social media around this event.
Dr. Perrin said, "We encourage everyone to take a few minutes on June 21 to learn more about how Asking Saves Kids. The more people talk about it, the easier it will become."
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org