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ASK Day encourages parents to ask about unlocked guns in homes where their children play

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Janet Christenbury

ASK Day encourages parents to ask if there is an unlocked gun in the homes where their children play.

Statistics show that one out of three homes with children has a gun, according to a review in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Another report in the journal Pediatrics found that nearly 1.7 million children live in a home with a loaded, unlocked gun.

With these statistics, the ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Campaign promotes a simple idea with the potential to help keep kids safe. ASK Day encourages parents to ask if there is an unlocked gun in the homes where their children play.
ASK Day falls on June 21, the first day of summer. With the arrival of summer, many children are out of school and away from the structure they normally observe during the school year. While this free time is often welcomed by children and parents alike, extra precautions should be taken to make sure children are safe when playing in new or different homes.
“As parents, we ask many questions when our children visit other homes, including questions about supervision, pets in the home and alerting others about allergies that a child may have,” explains Terri McFadden, MD, associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine. “ASK Day is a reminder to parents to also ask if there is an unlocked gun in the house where their children will play. It’s a simple question that could save a child’s life.”
This year in Atlanta, Emory University School of Medicine and Grady Memorial Hospital are partnering on the ASK Campaign. Information tables will be located at each hospital or school campus on June 21st -- ASK Day -- promoting the use of gun safety, gun safe storage/gun locks and teaching children never to handle guns.
“This collaboration also includes educating medical students and medical residents on the importance of talking to patients about safe gun storage,” says Lauren Hudak, MD, MPH, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Emory. “The more we can educate our next generation of providers about this important topic, the more the message will trickle down to patients, their families and their larger communities.”
McFadden, Hudak and Randi Smith, MD, MPH, assistant professor of surgery, Emory University School of Medicine, all work together in the Injury Prevention Research Center at Emory (IPRCE). Through IPRCE, they work on the Violence Prevention Task Force, with an aim to drastically reduce violence injury in Georgia. Their research has shown that firearms are the weapon most used to inflict violence on others and against oneself in the state.
The ASK Campaign is the first injury prevention activity the team has worked on that crosses specialties (pediatrics, emergency medicine and trauma surgery), while also crossing campuses (Emory and Grady) to keep children and families safe.
“Nearly all unintentional childhood shooting deaths occur in or around the home,” says Smith, who is also a physician in the Trauma/Surgical Critical Care Department at Grady Memorial Hospital. “ASK Day and the ASK Campaign provides the important reminder to ask about your child’s safety and if an unlocked gun is in that home, before a tragedy occurs.”
The ASK Campaign is a collaboration between the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The campaign has successfully inspired an estimated 19 million households to ask if there are guns where their children play.
Parents can pledge to ask this life-saving question at, while also learning how to spread the ASK message in their community.

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