Don't Think Kids Can Get at Household Guns? Think Again

Study shows parents are often wrong when they think children are safe

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TUESDAY, May 2, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- American parents are often mistaken when they think children can't or don't gain access to guns kept in the home, a new study finds.

The survey of 314 pairs of parents and children, aged 5 to 14, in rural Alabama found that some parents don't realize that their children know the location of household firearms and have already handled them.

Of the 314 mom-dad pairs, 201 (64 percent) reported that they had at least one gun in the home, and 91 percent of those parents said they had discussed gun safety with their children. Of the 201 parents, 141 said their children knew where the guns were stored, and 61 said they believed their children had handled a gun in the home.

However, the researchers found different numbers when they interviewed children in these families. Thirty-nine percent of parents who said their children did not know the location of the gun, and 22 percent of parents who said their children had never handled a gun in the home, were contradicted by their children's testimony, the study found.

What's more, "parents who locked their guns away and discussed gun safety with their children were as likely to be contradicted as parents who did not take such safety measures," the study authors wrote.

The findings "suggest that in a region where gun ownership is prevalent and where children are frequently included in gun-related activities, many mothers appear to be misinformed about the extent of their children's potential access and exposure to household guns," the authors concluded.

Firearms account for about 10 percent of deaths among U.S. children aged 5 to 14, the study noted. For every gun-related death among children, three children are injured by guns. Household guns are responsible for many of these incidents.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children and gun safety.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, May 1, 2006

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