Hudson Valley Parent

HVP October 2014

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Page 11 of 41 ■ Hudson Valley Parent 11 By ALEXA BIGWARFE A simple question could save your child's life. It's not a politically motivated ques- tion. It's not a judgmental ques- tion. It's not a question designed to shame anyone. It's simply a ques- tion to help protect your child. "Is there an unlocked, loaded gun in the homes where my child plays?" It may surprise you to know that there are guns in one in three homes in America. More surprising is that nearly 1.7 million children live in homes in which guns are loaded and unlocked. Because of the unlocked guns, thousands of children die from accidental gun shots each year in our country. Many more are also injured. ASK campaign The Asking Saves Kids campaign was started by a St. Louis mother who lost her 3-year-old son, Markie, to a gunshot wound. Markie was shot (accidentally) by an 11-year-old child who found a gun in the closet. When Markie entered the room, he surprised the older boy, and the gun went off. It is estimated by the ASK cam- paign (and supported by data at the CDC) that nine children and teens are shot each day in the United States in accidental shootings. Child safety Every day as parents, we make very rational choices regarding our kid's 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. More than half of parents nationwide say it has never occurred to them to ask about the presence of guns where their children play. Avoid confrontation It may feel very awkward for you to ask someone about guns in their home, but do not let that dissuade you. Try to ask in normal conver- sation, and avoid being confronta- tional. After all, you're not indicting them, you're just inquiring for the safety of your child. Tools to help The ASK Campaign is a collabora- tion with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The cam- paign provides tools and support to help parents and caregivers ask the question without feeling so awk- ward about it. Visit askingsaveskids. org for some excellent resources and more information on how you can make a difference, too. Alexa Bigwarfe is the mother to three young children. Do you ask? Learn the facts about guns in the home Would you allow your child to have a playdate in a home with a gun? Have you ever asked another family if they have a gun in the house? "The reality is, as much as you think you know people, you just don't. I don't let my daughter go to people's houses that I don't trust. And you never know. My time is better spent teaching her to stay away from guns and why." — Mary Ann McCullough "I feel like this is more a ques- tion of the person whose home would be visited. Are they a responsible adult? If they are, then I wouldn't have a problem at all. If not, well then my kids wouldn't be in their home in the first place. Guns shouldn't be the problem. There are many hunt - ers, target shooters and collec- tors out there, myself included." — Joe Pelletieri "It's such a hard question to ask! But it is such an important one. I don't want to offend the parent(s) of my son's friend, but I don't want him in a home that doesn't respect weapons and have appropriate safety measures in place. Children are curious and they know more than we think. They can get in serious trouble in an instant making an innocent mistake." — Coleen Carroll "Yes I would, because I don't let my children play anywhere I don't know the people themselves VERY well. I have friends who are responsible gun owners and have young children, so I know they're locked away safely." — Matoaka Garner HVP Chatroom

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