While my brother and I have many similar personality traits, I have always been the more cautious one whether it was the first day at a new school; learning to ski; learning to drive; or heading off into the wild blue yonder. I am the older one; the more type A personality. I am not known to take risks. I have taken some career risks and other calculated risks, but I'm certainly no daredevil.
I see the same difference between Darling 1 and Darling 2. While neither one seems to heed any of my requests, warnings or commands, Darling 1 certainly takes note of any dangers I warn of even if he doesn't appear to at the time. I know Darling 1 will always stop to think about the safe option. Darling 2 is another story. He is hell-bent to do whatever it is he has made up his mind to do – there is no stopping him. Darling 2 is quite tall, sturdily built and strong, and there are times he can out-power me, even though he isn't even two yet. I can already tell it's Darling 2 that we will have to watch in particular during his teenage years.
Teaching and Letting Go
You can't be with your kids with every step they take; every experience they encounter; every new person they meet. This is why it's so important to teach them right from wrong; self-respect; leadership skills; and how to be safe in every situation. One particular situation that scares me, especially with boys, is guns that could be in the homes my Darling boys visit as they grow older and go to friends' homes to play. The children in these homes may or may not be aware of the guns; they may not know how to handle a gun; they may not know whether it is real or whether it is loaded; the guns may not be properly stored as to prevent children from finding them and playing with them. But it's my job to educate my Darling Boys about firearms even though there are not any in our home.
The statistics are really scary when it comes to kids and guns. According to pediatrics.about.com injuries caused by firearms are the leading cause of death in children, including unintentional injuries, homicides and suicides. Surprising, isn't it? The following statistics also surprised me.
Every nine hours a child or teen was killed in a firearm-related accident or suicide in 2005.
On average, 3 children died every day in non-homicide firearm incidents from 2000-2005.
In 2005, there were 16,298 kids injured by a firearm -- and an additional 14,052 kids were injured from BB or pellet guns.
On average in each of the last 10 years, more than 1,000 kids committed suicide with a firearm; 105 were under 15-years-old.
There are also quite a few additional injuries to children caused by non-fatal gun-related injuries. Although gun-related injuries peak in adolescence, they can affect infants and younger children too. Younger children are most likely to be injured, either shooting themselves or a playmate, after playing with a gun that they have found in the home, not realizing that the gun is real or that it's loaded.
It's estimated that guns are in half of all homes in the United States. Although most of these guns are purchased for safety reasons, reports find that firearms in homes are much more likely to kill or injure a family member or friend than an intruder.
Gun Safety Tips
There are several programs aimed at educating children about the dangers of firearms. To name a few: Eddie Eagle, a gun safety program from the National Rifle Association; Kids and Guns, Project ChildSafe; and American Academy of Pediatrics' "Keep Your Family Safe from Firearm Injury" program. These programs may have different approaches, but the desired outcome is the same: to keep kids safe from firearms they may have access to in their homes or someone else's home.
Children are never too young to begin the lessons of safety. Teaching can begin long before the child is old enough to understand detailed instruction. Start by setting a proper and consistent example. If parents treat guns with care and respect, children will likely follow their lead.
It's a serious mistake to assume that keeping children ignorant will prevent accidents. Nothing could be further from the truth. Where firearms are concerned, there is no such thing as blissful ignorance. Keeping youngsters in the dark only insures that they will not understand the potential danger and increases the likelihood that they will seek to satisfy their curiosity without proper supervision. Also, the hazards that the parent wishes to eliminate are greatly increased if the child does not know how firearms function. A study published in the June 2001 issue of Pediatrics proves this point.
In this study, 'Seeing is Believing: What Do Boys Do When They Find a Real Gun?,' 29 groups of boys aged 8-12 years were observed in a room where a gun was hidden. Many of the children found and handled the gun, and half of the children actually pulled the trigger. Interestingly, most of the children that handled the found gun and pulled the trigger had previously received gun safety education.
This study helps to prove that to keep your children safe and prevent firearm related injuries, it's important to restrict their access to guns, either by not having a gun in the home or by storing it properly, which means keeping the gun in a gun safe, lock box, or a locked cabinet or drawer. The gun should also be stored unloaded with the bullets locked separately.
A gun put in a shoe box on the top shelf of a closet is not considered to be a safely stored gun, nor is hiding it any other place you think your child would never find it. Children are naturally curious and if a gun is not stored properly, there is a good chance that a child may find it and injure himself or someone else.
Here are some other key safety steps to take to protect your children:
Use a gun lock or trigger lock.
Make sure that your children do not have access to the keys used to lock your guns and bullets.
Teach your children to not handle guns without adult supervision.
Avoid letting your children play with realistic toy guns and nonpowder firearms, such as pellet guns, air guns, air rifles and BB guns.
Even if you don't have a gun in your own home, it's important to educate your children about firearm safety in case they discover a gun outside the home or in the homes of their friends. They should know the 4 steps of the Eddie Eagle gun safety program, including:
Leave the Area.
Tell an Adult.
These steps are so easy for you to teach and for your child to remember, even if, or especially if, your child is young. You should also discuss gun safety with other parents or family members if your child spends time in their homes (as I plan to do). It's not enough to assume that if they do have guns in the house, they have them stored properly.
If you do decide that you want to get rid of your guns to protect your children, you can look to see if a gun 'buy back' type program is available in your area. Or call the non-emergency number of your local police department and ask if they will pick it up. Additionally, many communities have free gun lock and/or trigger lock give away programs.
Project ChildSafe has safety information and advocates use of a cable-style gun locking device: http://www.projectchildsafe.org/Websites
Here is a website for kids. It explains the dangers of guns and provides gun safety tips easy enough for kids to understand: http://kidshealth.org/kid/watch/house/gun_safety.html
Kids and Guns is another website with great safety information and current news topics related to guns in the home: http://www.kidsandguns.org/
As the slogan on the website Kids and Guns states, "The child's life you save might be your own." Please take gun safety seriously and do your part to educate your child about gun safety, and if you have a gun in your home, please store it safely.
Do you have a gun in your home? Is it properly stored? How have you educated your kids about guns? Thanks for all the great comments yesterday in regards to Tuesday's post. I welcome all viewpoints as long as they are respectful to other's viewpoints, as well. On Friday, I will post a bit of Motherly Advice. Over and out…