Wellness and Healthy Living: BJC Medical Group

 

Published on Friday, October 02, 2015

A Pediatrician's Perspective on Gun Safety

I am a pediatrician.  I spend my days taking care of children.  I vaccinate kids to protect them from deadly illnesses.  I educate parents on food safety to prevent choking.  I counsel on bike helmets and seat belts to prevent injury.  I spend part of each visit discussing anticipatory guidance.  That is, I try and predict what challenges families may face as their children grow and work with them to keep their kids safe and healthy.  On October 1st, as 9 people were gunned down in their college classroom, I was in my office teaching parents how to keep their kids safe. The irony is not lost on me. 

Like many, I feel helpless.  I feel incapable of protecting our children in this climate of gun violence and mass shootings.

Almost three years ago, when 20 children and 6 adults were massacred at an elementary school in Sandy Hook, CT, the American Academy of Pediatrics published four priorities for legislation needed to keep our children safe. 

1- Firearm safety and the creation of stronger gun laws. 

2- Prevention and Public Health measures that allow research on the causes of gun violence and possible preventive strategies. 

3- Improved identification of mental health illness and access to care. 

4- Reduce gun violence in the media

Arguably, not one of these priorities has been appropriately addressed by our government leaders.  Meanwhile, over those three years there have been 142 more school shootings.   A national debate on gun safety and prevention of mass shootings is long overdue.

                Like most issues, gun safety starts in the home.  Talk to your child about guns.  If a gun is kept in the house, it should be stored unloaded.  The gun needs to be locked and kept out of the reach of children with the ammunition locked in a separate location.  The keys for these locations should be kept separate from other household keys and out of the reach of children.  Teach your child that if they see a gun, they need to stop what they are doing, walk away and report to an adult.  Finally, if your child is spending time at someone else’s house, inquire about guns and how they are stored. 

                We owe it to our children not to give up.  Mass shootings do not need to be a part of daily life.  The solution will not be easy, but our children deserve to be safe at school, at home and when out with friends. 

Lisa Ryan, MD, is a pediatrician at Way to Grow Pediatrics. She can be reached at  636.344.2213.

         

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Author: Kristen Delia

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