Pediatricians should discuss gun safety with kids, study says

WEST JORDAN – A new study shows talking to kids about gun safety during a routine medical visit is an important conversation to have, yet many pediatricians don’t bring it up.

Many kids live in homes with guns, but few pediatricians talk about gun safety. That’s the takeaway from a recent study conducted at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Researchers surveyed 1,200 parents in Missouri and Illinois who were visiting a pediatrician. They learned that more than one-third of children lived in houses with guns. Another 14 percent visited homes regularly that have guns in them.

About 77 percent said their pediatricians didn’t ask them about gun safety. But 66 percent said they’d welcome the conversation.

Pediatrician Alissa Packer runs through a checklist of safety questions with her patients at Southpoint Pediatrics in West Jordan.

“If they have guns in their homes? If they're stored properly? Whether or not they've got the ammunition separate from the guns, and they're locked in a safe rather than hidden,” Dr. Packer said.

Dr. Packer says opening up this type of dialogue makes parents more aware. The goal is to ensure guns aren’t accessible to children.

“Kids are just naturally very curious,” Dr. Packer said.

Bryndi Miller’s girls may be too young for the talk, but she takes Dr. Packer’s advice to heart.

“I think it's important, especially learning about other people's houses when they go and play with other friends," she said.

Researchers say some pediatricians are worried about crossing the line and offending patients about gun safety. Others don’t know what they’re legally allowed to tell parents.

“Sometimes I think people feel like maybe we're being a little political when, really, we're just trying to be safe and have kids be as safe as they can,” Dr. Packer said.

Click here for the study.