By Peggy Stager, M.D. FAAP
Originally posted on YourTeenMag.com
Did you know that 1 in 3 homes in America with children have guns? Guns are the second leading cause of death among children and teens, and there are over 15,000 youth injured or killed by guns every year. One question could save your child’s life. The American Academy of Pediatrics is sponsoring the ASK campaign, encouraging parents to ask one simple question. When your pre-teen or teen goes to a friend’s house to hang out, do you know if that house has a gun in it? The AAP recommends that you call the other parent and ask, “Is there an unlocked gun in your house?” 42% of parents with guns keep at least one gun unlocked and 25% of parents with guns keep at least one gun always loaded. Most of the time, the teens know where the guns are kept in the home. This means that curious teens, especially bored teens, might go looking for that gun, or find it while looking for something else. There have been too many injuries and deaths from unlocked guns in the home because the teen didn’t think the gun was loaded, was “playing around”, and accidentally shot his friend. It doesn’t have to be this way. As a parent, you already know what it is like to ask awkward or uncomfortable questions to other parents like, “Are you going to be home tonight when the girls are there?”, “I think the boys may have been drinking last night. Did you notice that too?” While this may feel uncomfortable at first, keep in mind you are asking in your teen’s best interest. Besides, what is the worst thing that could happen? A parent may be offended, or even laugh at you. But in the long run one simple question may save a teen’s life.