Play dates are an exciting — and developmental — part of growing up for kids. But when the play date is not at their house, parents ask about all sorts of safety concerns before they allow their children to attend. Especially for new friends or caretakers, they may ask about pets in the home, various allergies, supervision, and specific rules on Internet access and snacks.
Akron Children’s is encouraging parents to add one more question to the conversation: “Is there an unlocked gun in your house?”
The risk of accidental death by shooting is 4 times higher in homes with guns, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Unintentional shootings happen to children of all ages and more than one-third of them occur in homes of their friends, neighbors or relatives.
It can be scary and you may fear you’re being impolite, but having good manners shouldn’t mean you have to forgo safety and concern for your children. Let us help you get the conversation started. You can treat it like a check-in about car seats and allergies.
- When dropping your child off to a play date or caretaker, you could say: “My child is pretty curious, and our doctor recommended that I ask if there is an unlocked gun in the house?”
- You can mention recent national campaigns around unintentional shootings and say: “Given the recent campaigns around ending family fire, we always ask if there are any unlocked guns in your home?”
- If you’re uncomfortable asking in person, call or text the parent the day before the play date to ask about unlocked guns in the home.
- Try role playing with relatives or friends, especially if they’re gun owners, to practice possible answers and how you can respond.
- If your teen is babysitting in someone else’s home, teach your child to ask the parents about safety, such as emergency contacts, children’s allergies and whether there is an unlocked gun in the house.
It’s a simple question, but the answer could save a child’s life. If there is an unlocked gun in the home, you could offer to host the play date at your house instead or the local park.
Kids are naturally curious, even about a firearm that they’ve been warned not to touch. Keep an ongoing conversation about gun safety and remind kids to follow the 4 rules if they see one, for instance, while playing at a friend’s house: Stop, don’t touch it, leave the area and tell an adult.
Keeping guns out of kids’ hands
Kids are safest when guns are stored outside the home. If that’s not an option, follow these gun-safety guidelines to keep your kids and family safe from harm.