The ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Campaign promotes a simple idea with the potential to help keep kids safe. ASK, “Is there an unlocked gun in your house?” before sending your child over to play. According to ASK, one out of three American homes with children has a gun, and nearly 1.7 million children live in a home with a loaded, unlocked gun. Every year thousands of kids are killed and injured as a result. We hear about this in the news all the time.
As a concerned community member and mom/stepmom to five amazing children, I don’t want to imagine my life with them being hurt emotionally or physically. My biological daughter lives with us full time. She is getting to know classmates in her new school and is looking forward to spending time with them over the summer. My husband and I have a rule that we meet the parents of her friends before allowing her to spend time at their home.
According to Kids Safe Foundation, there are seven questions every parent should ask before a play date/sleepover:
- Who will be watching the children?
- Do you have older children and will they or their friends be present?
- Do you have a gun in your house?
- What safety rules do you have in your house?
- Will you be staying at your house? What is the plan?
- Is the TV and internet use monitored?
- What are the sleeping arrangements?
National Ask Kids Day is the perfect time to ask your children specific questions about their friends, their friends’ parents, and the safety of the homes they spend time in. I would love to be with our children everywhere they go, but it’s not reality. Between school, sports, child care, church, and social events, there are countless opportunities for unsafe situations to present themselves. It is our job as parents to prepare our kids with proactive conversations and open the doors of communication.
One topic that can be especially scary for parents is personal safety and body boundaries. When it comes to protecting our children, certain conversations are easy and even natural to have. “Stranger Danger” is a term we all know, but when 95% of molested children know their perpetrator, teaching them about “tricky people” is much more effective.
What do I mean by tricky people? Janelle Durham, social worker, childbirth educator, co-author, and curriculum designer, goes into substantial detail about this in her blog article Teaching about “Tricky People” vs. “Stranger Danger”. Thankfully there are reliable resources available to help us understand and incorporate these concepts when discussing safety with our children, such as SAFE Hearts by Damsel in Defense.
But I digress. Huffington Post reports since the ASK Campaign was launched in 2000, there are now “900 fewer children and teenagers killed with guns each year. The same report also shows that unintentional gun deaths among children ages 19 and younger have decreased by more than a third — down 42 percent since 1999.” Teaching our children about safety – all forms of it – is vital to a healthy community.
What will you do to make a difference?
National ASK Day is coming up next Wednesday, June 21. They will hold “The World’s Largest Playdate” in communities across the country to bring attention to the dangers of youth access to guns in the home. If you would like to be part of that effort or to join Brady, the Million Mom March, and the growing list of organizations committed to making our children safer, pledge to add your voice at AskingSavesKids.org.
By RaChelle Glauser-Sharpe