Dear CDA Families,
June is Gun Violence Awareness Month. As the school year comes to an end, I encourage you to take action on gun violence awareness and prevention. Regardless of how we feel about gun ownership or if you have one in your home, it’s important to talk to your children about guns. Children of all ages are naturally curious about guns and without the proper education, their lack of knowledge could be fatal.
Gun violence has increased and continues to do so throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Gun Violence Archive, there have been at least 205 mass shootings reported in the US, this year alone. Sadly, those affected by gun violence go beyond those directly impacted.
According to research, guns are the leading cause of death for children and teens, ages 1 to 19 in the United States. The vast majority of unintentional gun shootings and injuries happen to children of all ages. It is estimated that roughly 4.6 million children live in a home with an unlocked, loaded gun, which also increases the risk of suicide four times more than children who live in homes without guns. Did you know that children as young as 3 years may be strong enough to pull the trigger on a gun?
The best way to avoid gun-related accidents is to talk to children of all ages about guns and gun safety on a regular basis. Holding regular conversations will reduce your child’s curiosity and help them understand what guns are, how they work, and how to keep them safe.
Below are Some Tips to Consider:
1. Talk to your children about guns:
- Remind your kids that if they see a gun, to stay away even if it looks like a toy and notify you immediately. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Remind your kids not to be snooping for guns at anyone’s house.
- Never handle guns without permission from a known and trusted adult.
2. Safe gun storage:
If you own a gun, keep it unloaded and locked up. Store and lock ammunition separately from the unloaded gun. Make sure children do not have access to the keys or combination to the gun and ammunition lock. Most importantly, do not keep a gun simply hidden in a “secret” place where it is unlocked because chances are your child will eventually find it.
3. Toy guns:
Consider how you want to respond to pretend gun play since kids will likely use any object as a pretend gun. You might set rules that they don’t pretend to shoot people.
4. Media & video games:
Many movies and video games romanticize gun violence. It is important that children learn and understand the difference between real and not real and be reminded that in real life, guns can be extremely dangerous and deadly. Carefully consider what your child is exposed to.
5. Homes of family and friends:
More than a third of all unintentional shootings of children take place in a home of a friend, neighbor or relative. It’s important to ask before your child visits another home about guns and safe storage.
The reality of guns and the tragedies of gun violence are overwhelming, and we must be ready with the tools to manage and respond to the questions and concerns that our children may have. It is especially important to help children feel safe and understand what is happening. Remember, safe and supportive adults are the best predictor of a resilient child.
Responding to Children about Violent Incidents by San Diego County News Center
A County mental health expert offers parents advice on responding to children after school shootings and other violent incidents. Inpatient unit for children and adolescents up to age 18 with psychiatric illness. Phone: (858)-576-1700 (24 hours a day). Click here to learn more.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
SAMHSA has some tips for Coping with Traumatic Events. Click here to learn more.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
NCTSN offers searchable resources that focus on how adults can identify and respond to traumatic responses in young people:
- Talking to Children about the Shooting by NCTSN.
- After a Crisis: Helping Young Children Heal by NCTSN.
- Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event by NCTSN.
- Guns In the Home: Keeping Kids Safe.
- Gun Safety.
- Asking Saves Kids.
- 17 Facts About Gun Violence and School Shootings.
- Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers.
- San Diego County Office of Education Resources to Discuss School Shootings.
- JED’s Mental Health Resource Center provides tools to help teens and young adults navigate life’s challenges.
- Routines to Help Kids Cope with Stress by PBS Kids.
- Community and Gun Violence: Sesame Street in Communities.
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For individualized assistance with resources or referrals, please contact our Family Resources Team via the contact form on our workshops page: