As a parent and a pediatrician, I want to make everyone aware of an important safety issue that is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). On Thursday, June 21, 2018, organizations and individuals around the country will celebrate National ASK Day. Held annually on the first day of summer, a season when children spend more time in other homes, ASK Day reminds parents about the importance of asking if there are unlocked guns in the homes where their children play.
Every day across America eight children and teens are shot in unintentional shootings. The majority of these instances go unnoticed. Thousands of kids and teens are killed and injured by gun violence every Year. Many of these youth deaths and injuries occur because parents, relatives or friends leave guns accessible to kids, resulting in unintentional shootings and suicides.
As parents, we have a responsibility to keep our kids safe. Every day as parents, we make very rational choices regarding our kids’ safety—we buckle their seatbelts, make them wear bicycle helmets, and limit their TV time. But when it comes to gun safety, we are often not taking the same logical approach with our loved ones.
One out of three homes with children has guns, many left unlocked or loaded. As parents, we can help protect those we love by asking the right questions about gun safety. This is the simple idea behind the Asking Saves Kids (ASK) Campaign. ASK encourages parents to simply ask if there are unlocked guns in the homes where their children play (such as at friends’ or family members’ homes). Just as it has become common to hear parents asking about nut allergies or pools, parents can take an important step to ensure the safety of their children simply by asking, “Is there an unlocked gun in your home?” If the answer is no, then we have one less thing to worry about. If the answer is yes, make sure all guns are stored unloaded and locked, ideally in a gun safe, with ammunition stored separately.
If we as parents start to ASK, we can make our families safer and prevent many of the firearm-related tragedies that occur every day. To pledge to ASK and learn about more ways to get involved in ASK, please visit: www.askingsaveskids.org.