What Kids Need to Know About Guns

Read helpful hints on what to say to children about guns.

Watch Out!

The concept behind a trigger lock is that if a child found an unloaded handgun, he still wouldn't be able to load and fire it. A trigger lock should not be used on a loaded gun, because it is possible that the gun could still discharge, even with the lock on.

Safety Savvy

Schools in more than 70 cities offer a course called Straight Talk About Risks (STAR). Created by the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, STAR teaches children in grades pre-K through 12 how to develop victim prevention skills and to manage conflicts without guns or other violence. To learn more, call 202-289-7319, or visit the Web site www.handguncontrol.org.

An important part of protecting your children is talking to them about guns.

  • Never touch. The very first message very young children should hear about guns is to stay away from them. Even if you don't own a gun, it's possible your child could encounter one at a friend's house. Tell your youngster to never touch a gun. If he sees one, he should not pick it up but immediately leave the area to tell a parent or another trusted adult.
  • TV vs. real life. Start at an early age explaining the difference between television and real-life violence. Kids need to understand that real guns can seriously hurt or even kill children. Be careful what your kids watch on television. A steady diet of shoot-'em-ups can give young children—and older ones, too—distorted views of violence and conflict resolution!
  • Dealing with disputes. With older children, there is the added risk of guns being used to settle disputes or to commit suicide. The alarming number of school shootings has brought more attention to the issue of youth gun violence and led to calls for parent and community involvement in prevention. For more information on school violence prevention, see What to do About School Violence.
  • Be a good role model. If you own a gun, don't use it in a manner you wouldn't want your child to imitate. You can also be a role model to others by working with your school's parent association to present education programs for other parents on protecting kids from guns.
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