Knowing how to handle the ins and outs of children’s play dates can be difficult, and for many, the last thing parents want to do is ask about hot topics. But if children are going to be spending time at their friends’ houses, then the tough conversations are not only needed but a requirement if you are going to be comfortable while your child is away. One of the most important is whether or not firearms are kept in the home.
One of the most tragic stories we hear is when children, without knowing any better, play with guns and end up getting hurt or hurting others. No parent wants to go through this experience. In a report from Pediatrics, almost 1.7 million American children are in homes that have unlocked, loaded firearms. Another study from San Francisco General Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health found that 39 percent of families, who thought that their children 5 to 14 years old didn’t know where the guns in the house were, the children actually did know the location. Parents who thought their children had never handled a gun, in 22 percent of homes, children actually had.
Broaching the topic doesn’t have to be daunting though, another study found that 97% of parents including those that own guns don’t mind the question. Many of them even appreciate that parents do ask the question. While you can ask directly whether they have guns that are loaded in the house and even to see them; you can be more subtle about approaching it as well.
Here are some ways to approach the question by prompting conversation:
My pediatrician asked about gun storage in our house, and I can’t stop thinking about it and keeping my children safe.
My child is so curious about everything, and I’m worried what he/she would do if they stumbled across one.
Did you hear about the story of the child who came across a hidden gun? (take from recent news)
Here are some ways to be more direct in your approach:
I speak to my kids about not playing with guns. Is this something that you have thought about?
I choose not to have my children around guns without me. Therefore, I make it a habit of asking everyone my child spends time with if they have guns in their house and whether children have access or know where they are.
No matter how you approach the topic, as we continue through learning how to organize play dates and keep our children safe, it’s much better to ask, than to avoid the hard questions because they might be uncomfortable.
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