Kids may handle family gun unbeknownst to mom
Parents’ perceptions about their children’s access to guns stored in the home are often inaccurate, according to the results of a survey conducted in a family practice clinic in rural Alabama.
In analyzing responses from 314 parent-child pairs, and 201 (64%) had guns in the house. While the researchers found that 39 percent of parents, particularly mothers, said that their child did not know where they stored the gun and 22 percent said their child had never handled the family gun, this was contradicted by the child’s response.
“Parents who locked their guns away and discussed gun safety with their children were as likely to be contradicted as parents who did not take such safety measures,” report Dr. Frances Baxley from San Francisco General Hospital and Dr. Matthew Miller from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
Children younger than age 10 were as likely has older children to reporting knowing the location of the stored gun, according to the study findings, published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
“Our study suggests that parents should take every effort to prevent their children from gaining access to guns in the home and never assume that counseling children about gun safety is the only precaution necessary to keep them safe,” Miller told Reuters Health.
The findings, Miller added, “support recommendations from the American Pediatrics Association that, because of children’s natural impulsiveness, curiosity and inability to always know the difference between what is a toy and a dangerous firearm, the best way to keep children safe from guns is to not store guns in the home.”
“If parents must keep guns in the home,” Miller said, “it is incumbent upon them to make sure that all household firearms are securely locked away, preferably in a gun safe that absolutely can not be accessed by anyone other than the parents themselves.”
Just this week, Miller noted, a New York City police officer’s 9-year-old son accidentally shot himself in his family’s Long Island home. As of Monday, the boy was in critical condition on life support.
“These tragedies occur every 2 to 3 days among our nation’s children—and are preventable, but only if parents recognize that they must make absolutely sure that their child can not gain access to household firearms,” Miller said.
SOURCE: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, May 2006.
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