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 636-344-2400, or schedule an appointment with her today!