AAP Study Suggests Child’s History of Self-Harm Risk Factors Does Not Influence Parents when Securing Firearms in the Home

A recent student published by American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP News & Journals Gateway) outlines the number of children living in homes where firearms are easily accessible and self-harm risk factors.

Researchers leaned on a cross-sectional analysis of a nationally representative probability-based online survey of US adults conducted in 2015.

Respondents reported whether they live with children and were caretaker/healthcare decision-makers for a child. Household firearm ownership was an ascertained for all respondents; how firearms were stored in homes with guns was asked of gun-owning respondents only; all respondents were asked whether their child had a history of following self-harm risk factors: depression, mental health conditions other than depression, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Results indicated firearms were present in 43.5% of homes with children who had a history of self-harm risk factors compared to 42.3% of homes in which no child had self-harm risk factors.

Among parents or caretakers with firearms, 34.9% stored all guns locked and unloaded when they had a child with a history of self-harm risk factors, compared with 31.8% when none of their children had such a history.

Researchers concluded that while millions of US children live in homes in which firearms are left loaded or unlocked or both, a child’s history of depression, mental health conditions other than depression, or ADHD does not appear to appreciably influence caretaker decisions about whether to:

1.) Have firearms in the home

2.) Store all household firearms in accordance with AAP recommendations (locked and unloaded).

In 2015, the most recent year for which mortality data are available, suicide was the second leading cause of death for children aged 10 to 17 years of age. For children in this age group, firearms accounted for over 40% of all suicides.

AAP officials note guidelines intended to reduce firearm injury to children, first issued by the AAP in 1992, assert that whereas the safest home for a child is one without firearms, risk can be reduced substantially by storing all household firearms locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition.

The AAP recommendations reflect 3 observations:

1.) The source of most of the firearms involved in suicide (and unintentional firearm deaths) among children is their home.

2.) The presence of guns in a child’s home substantially increases the risk of suicide (and unintentional firearm death).

3.) The risk of unintentional and self-inflicted firearm injury is lower in homes that store firearms unloaded (compared with loaded) and locked (compared with unlocked)

Michaela Madison Reporting

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