Fox 4: Practical ways parents can address gun violence to help keep teens safe
"One of the most important things for every adult to know is that we don’t need to worry about putting thoughts into kids heads. We’ve had a lot of research that tells us that’s not the case, it’s really important that we are leaning into those tough question and asking them because that’s where we find that we can actually get kids help."
Many parents and community groups recognize adolescent years can be some of the most difficult times of a person's life. On Wednesday night St.Ann Catholic School leaders hosted an event called "Keeping Kids Safe" to focus on teen suicide prevention.
"It’s really hard to talk about and I think it’s scary for a lot of people. I think that’s why we avoid it a lot of times," said Dr. Shayla Sullivant, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist with Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
She spoke before a group of parents, administrators and community members about practical ways to address this topic with teens. Something as simple as asking your child about their day, or the issues affecting teens at school can provide insight into what your teen might be facing.
"One of the most important things for every adult to know is that we don’t need to worry about putting thoughts into kids heads. We’ve had a lot of research that tells us that’s not the case, it’s really important that we are leaning into those tough question and asking them because that’s where we find that we can actually get kids help," said Sullivant.
Another thing to consider is safety at home. Wednesday evenings discussion focused on proper storage of medicine and firearms as to not give children access to potentially deadly tools. Grandparents Against Gun Violence has been working since 2013 to improve safety at home.
"35,000 people a year die from gun violence, a third of those are homicides, two-thirds are suicides and accidental deaths and that’s where our focus is," said Judy Sherry President of Grandparents against gun violence," said Judy Sherry President of Grandparents against gun violence.
Making Gun Locks Available: No Cost, No Questions
To help prevent firearm-related injuries in children and adolescents, Children’s Mercy is partnering with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and Project Child Safe to provide gun locks to families of patients at no cost and with no questions asked.
The free cable-style gun locks, along with instructions in either English or Spanish, can be picked up at the Security offices at Adele Hall Campus, CM South and CM Broadway.
“Bravo to Children’s Mercy for making these guns locks available to our families that own firearms,” said Denise Dowd, MD, MPH, Emergency Department and Urgent Care. “It’s crucial that parents keep guns locked, unloaded and out of reach. The most important thing any parent can do is create a home environment that’s nurturing, supportive and safe.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the absence of guns from children’s homes and communities is the most reliable and effective way to prevent firearm-related injuries in children and adolescents. However, for parents who choose to own firearms, safe gun storage (guns unloaded and locked, ammunition locked separately) can reduce unintentional injury and suicide risk for children and adolescents.
Learn more about the Center for Childhood Safety at Children's Mercy.
Dr. Sullivant shares 13 Things to Know About Suicide Prevention