According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), nearly 6,000 children are treated for gunshot wounds each year. 1,300 of those children will die from their wounds. These figures make firearm-related mortalities the third leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 17 years.
In light of these shocking and sobering statistics, pediatric providers must understand the risks associated with firearms in the home. In order to keep children safe, they also need to know the most effective ways to approach vulnerable high-risk patients, how to approach this sensitive topic with families during routine visits and so much more.
Listen to an adolescent medicine expert discuss firearm safety education in the primary care provider's office
Welcome to season two of Charting Pediatrics. In this episode, we address the timely and serious topic of firearm safety in homes with Eric Sigel, MD.
Dr. Sigel is the Director of Adolescent Medicine at Children's Hospital Colorado. After the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999, he decided to refocus his pediatric career on different forms of youth violence and violence prevention. As a specialist working with adolescents, Dr. Sigel feels it is his responsibility to help keep kids safe.
In this episode, our experts review:
- The AAP guidelines for gun safety in the home
- The risks of having firearms in the home, especially when there are children and teens present
- How easy access to firearms can impact suicide rates among children
- When to start addressing firearm safety in the home with your patients and families
- Approaches for addressing gun safety guidelines with parents and young patients
- How to educate families on the importance of safe storage for firearms
- Ways to become involved in the advocacy efforts around gun safety
Teaching families safe firearms storage is effective
As a pediatrician, it can be challenging to address everything that our kids and families need to know about staying safe and healthy, especially when time is limited and the topic is controversial. However, education saves lives. Listeners will learn the best way to speak with families, including when there’s a familial disagreement on firearms and other tough scenarios.
Other research-backed education initiatives include distribution of safe storage devices, such as cable locks and lockboxes, at the primary care appointment. Since safe storage also touches on the opioid epidemic, providing these devices to families offers a good transition into delivering general safety messages about firearms, medicines and other hazards.
Providers should note that the AAP advises that the safest home for a child is one without guns. Research has continually shown that the best way to prevent unintentional gun injuries, suicide and homicide to children and adolescents is an absence of guns in both the home and greater community.
Educating adolescent patients and their families on firearm safety at Children's Colorado
At Children's Colorado, our providers and experts understand that children and teens deserve special attention. We also know that patient education about firearms safety is a topic that impacts adolescent medicine in many different ways. Our team is passionate about supporting children and their families through education initiatives, mental health services, ongoing research on firearms safety and more. Refer a patient to Children's Colorado.