Gun violence has become a public health epidemic and a major safety issue for children and adolescents. Follow these tips to help you keep your kids safe when guns are around.

Guns in the home

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the safest home for kids is a home without guns. If you do have a gun in your home, make sure you keep it unloaded and properly locked. Be sure to keep guns and ammunition locked in separate gun safes or lockboxes.

Guns in other homes

It is also important to protect your kids from guns in the homes of family members and friends by ensuring they are free of unlocked guns. The ASK (Asking Saves Kids) campaign recommends asking “Is there an unlocked gun in your home?” prior to any sleepovers, playdates or babysitting sessions.

Educating kids about violence

Children and adolescents are often exposed to violence through TV shows and video games, which don’t always show the devastation and long-term impact these acts cause. Make sure your child knows that violence in real life carries very real consequences for everyone involved.

Educating kids about emotions

It is important to teach your kids how to process intense feelings such as fear and anger without resorting to violence. Let them know that they can come to you and/or other trusted adults to speak about any negative emotions they may be feeling. It is important to model to your kids that emotions should be dealt with by communicating constructively, not acting destructively.

Educating kids about mental health

The prevalence of mental health disorders is fairly high in young people, particularly teenagers, with many going untreated. Make sure you monitor your child’s mental health and assist them with seeking help and developing proper coping habits instead of engaging in self-harm or self-injury.

By taking the proper precautions, you can help safeguard your children from gun violence.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Monika Goyal Monika Goyal, MD, is an emergency medicine specialist at Children's National Health System. She completed her internship, residency and fellowship programs at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

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