The Gun Debate
ON THE DEBATE BETWEEN GUNS AND GUN VIOLENCE
There's no doubt that we are facing a significant gun violence problem in the United States. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports that 50 million Americans own over 200 million guns. Over one-third of all homes contain guns, and the majority of these guns are kept loaded, unlocked and potentially accessible to children. The Academy references research indicating that if a gun is stored in a home, the risk of homicide increases threefold and the risk of suicide increases fivefold.
Gun ownership and gun violence are two very different issues. Gun ownership runs the range from sport to self-protection, two very positive (and some would argue, necessary) things. Gun violence on the other hand is either the result of criminal activity or the result of mental disorder. Gun violence is what gains the most media attention and leaves us screaming for stricter laws and gun controls. Stricter gun controls fly right in the face of gun ownership and therein lies the conflict.
When we decided we needed to weigh in on the 2013 National "Gun Debate", we knew it wasn't going to be easy. Clearly the issues are many ranging from Second Amendment Rights, to universal background checks, armed adults in school (teachers?, SROs?), mental health concerns, and media's influence on violence. The debate even crosses over into bullying and suicide issues which we know are substantially huge for our children.
We've filtered through a great deal of the information and decided to hold firmly to our mission of providing you with information and resources that develop your ability to look at situations and safety issues with a different perspective, a child-centered/child-focused perspective, "Through the Eyes of the Child" and to focus on what you CAN DO to help our children be safer in this...our new normal...world.
Living with Guns
As all radKIDS know, the best-practice for gun safety is taught repeatedly in all radKIDS classes. Ask any radKID and they should be able to repeat their "See a Gun...RUN to a SAFE ZONE...and TELL" mantra which we teach in all radKIDS classes. See a Gun...RUN to a SAFE ZONE addresses safety education at the core foundation. The mantra trains the brain and by repeatedly lining up and practicing the drill, an instinctive response is developed that get children running away from danger and heading to the safe zone without ever touching the weapon. No other intervention (adult) is needed as we may not be there.
that EVERY CHILD be taught the
See a Gun...RUN to a SAFE ZONE safety drill
to defend against the temptation and fascination
of seeing the gun and picking it up.
But what if a child hasn't been taught See a Gun...Run or if curiosity kicks in and they do go toward the gun and pick it up? In radKIDS that means more practice...more practice until the message is clear and See a Gun... Run to a SAFE ZONE trumps curiosity and they immediately head to the safe zone and tell.
In life, when a child doesn't have these skills or a plan to put their safety first, they may react by giving in to curiosity and picking up the gun, the next most critical line of defense in this scenario lies in adult supervision and gun safety.
radKIDS ON...Gun Safety
outlines three important musts for gun owners to ensure the safety of children:
- Unload and lock up your guns
- Lock and store ammunition separately
- Hide keys where children are unable to find them
These basic practices along with adult supervision will provide the necessary back up provisions if the child picks up the gun.
We have included the full version of radKIDS ON..Gun Safety for your review and reference. We firmly believe that gun storage and handling can be a matter of life and death.
What if a child finds a gun and doesn't protect him/herself by running and telling. What if (s)he picks up the gun. And what if it is unsecured and loaded and there is no adult supervision in the area? Judy Shaw, Director of the Injury Prevention Program at Children's Hospital in Boston, notes,
"Any small child who picks up a gun...
is going to put a finger on the trigger...and click it."
One of two things may go terribly wrong in this scenario. One, a horrible accident can take place with critical injury occurring to the child or to a by-standing child. In this scenario, there is no ill intent to do harm but all our layers of protection have failed and the result can be a horrible accident.
Second, the child may actually decide to use the gun. Perhaps (s)he was bullied at school and the opportunity to retaliate has presented itself with a loaded gun ready to go.
radKIDS ON...School Violence
outlines the value of communication and listening for signs.Talking and listening for signs of peer to peer school violence (bullying) can help provide critical early warning signs of potential thoughts of retaliation or suicide.
We encourage children to trust their instincts, so if a friend says something that makes them feel scared, concerned, or uncomfortabschool securityle they will recognize it as something they should share with you. If you hear any talk indicating a violent inclination on your child's part o r that of your child's friends, please don't hesitate intervene or to seek appropriate assistance.
Perhaps this child has been influenced by Media's glamorization of violence through music, movies and/or video games, and has an opportunity to experience the thrill for real or perhaps this child is battling depression or mental illness. In these instances many more layers of protection have failed this child (parenting, social services, and/or the medical community, etc.) As we are all too well aware, these are the most devastating result and the ones that create the national dialogues that we now finding ourselves immersed in.
Our radKIDS ON... Media and Violence
provides an overview of indicators that might help parents better gauge the appropriate balance of time and level of violent content you allow your child access to. Parents should know that neither the government, nor the media industry have any intention of taking responsibility for the effects that violence in the media plays in the young minds of our children.
We are clearly not saying that violence in the media causes violent behavior in children. What we are saying is that media plays a significant role in children's lives and parents are the only ones who will ensure that the appropriate balance is achieved based on other factors already present in their child's life. These factors include:
- Amount of time spent viewing violence
- Whether the time spent "playing" is it competitive or aggressive or desensitizing
- What is the balance of other interests or is the child "addicted"
- Does the child's tendency lean toward violent aggressive behavior
- Does the child exhibit healthy coping skills when challenged
- Does the child show compassion, love, caring easily
radKIDS ON...Media and Violence provides you with on-line resources to assist parents in finding out exactly what their child is being exposed to and will help to better assess if the media your child is consuming is healthy and appropriate.