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Health & Parenting

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Gun Safety With Kids in the House

A Gun Safety Timeline for Parents and Kids

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests parents get serious about making sure guns are locked up by the time kids are ready to crawl -- around 6 months. Later, when kids go to friends' or relatives' homes for play dates, ask if there are guns in the house and if they're stored safely.

Then teach kids what to do if they come in contact with a gun, either in your home or someone else’s:

  • Stop what you're doing.
  • Don't touch the gun.
  • Leave the area where the gun is.
  • Tell an adult right away.

“Tell kids it’s never OK to touch a gun unless you’re supervised," Warner says. "If no responsible adults are around, and another kid pulls out a gun, you leave right away. And if that happens, you go and tell your parents immediately.”

Remind kids often that guns on TV and in games and movies aren't real, and that real guns do damage.

If guns are part of the family culture, exposing older kids to proper care and securing of weapons will help them develop a healthy respect for gun safety, Brassard says.

“When kids get older -- and especially if they get involved with supervised target shooting or hunting -- it’s good to let them see how diligent the gun owner is about storage and handling,” he says. “That helps build good habits and a good understanding of the way guns should be treated.”

However, if kids show signs of depression, you should arrange to store guns outside the home. Suicide, a leading cause of death among teens, can be up to 10 times more likely when guns are in the house.

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Reviewed on January 14, 2014

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