At Family First, we are advocates for caregivers and families being SMART in their homes.
We wanted to reach out to our community and give caregivers the tools they need to ensure they are being SMART and safe while working. But what does it mean to be SMART, exactly? SMART is an acronym developed by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an organization that advocates for gun safety and the lives of children lost by gun violence. Firearms are the number 2 cause of death for American children. That’s right, not drowning or choking, but unnecessary gun violence. So, how can we be SMART with guns in our home, and how can we feel safe working in an environment where guns may be present?
We want to break down the SMART acronym, and provide tips on how to have these conversations with others.
S-Secure All Guns in Your Homes and Vehicles.
4.6 million children live in homes with guns that are both unlocked and loaded. If you are a caregiver or parent, you know how your child can get into anything like drawers, cabinets, and closets, within the blink of an eye (especially those curious toddlers.) We must assume that children and teens can find guns, even if we think they are hidden well. If they can find it, they will play with it. It could be worth you, your child, and your nanny’s life to find a gun safe, a locked drawer, or a cabinet to store your guns, and a separate locked space to store your ammunition. Keep the keys in a safe place, always.
M-Model Responsible Behavior Around Guns
We are responsible for our children, and we must model the behaviors we wish for them to have. We model manners, kindness, and respect. Why not also model safe gun practices? Modeling responsible behavior around guns can look like a variety of different things, depending on your family dynamics and lifestyle. It could look like not cleaning a loaded gun in front of your children, not waving a gun around, and not engaging in horseplay while guns are present.
A- Ask About the Presence of Unsecured Guns in Others Homes
As a caregiver, you have a right to know if you are going to be working in a home where there may be unsecured guns that could put you or your charges life at risk. It is important to have these discussions with a potential new family during the interview process, and we promise, it does not have to be awkward. First, ask yourself a few questions. Are you comfortable with guns in the home? Are you comfortable with unsecured guns in the home? Are you comfortable with locked and unloaded guns in the home? Having honest, true answers to these questions can help eliminate anxiety in asking potential employers about guns. The conversation could go like this during an interview:
Nanny: Awesome! I love that we feel the same about our parenting styles. I don’t mean to pry, but this is very important to me for safety reasons. Does your family keep guns in your home?
Family: Yes, we do. We keep them in a locked safe in our bedroom closet. The girls know not to go in there unless we are with them.
Nanny: That is great. I want to make sure we can all be safe throughout the day. Speaking of safe, do the children have any food allergies?
Parents can also ask these questions of neighbors who may be engaging with in-home playdates and sleepovers. We encourage you to ask yourselves the same questions, and know your feelings on your child being in someone else’s home who may have unsecured guns. Remember, even though these conversations may be awkward, it is better to ask them before an accident occurs, rather than after.
R-Recognize the Role of Guns in Suicide
Every year, more than 600 children die by suicide with a gun. More than 40% of all child gun related deaths are from suicide. Kids can be impulsive. They sometimes feel that their emotions, which kids are still learning how to regulate, are never-ending and uncontrollable. One bad day has the possibility to turn into a fatal day. If you feel that your child could be at risk for suicide, ensure your guns are properly stored and seek professional assistance.
T-Tell your peers to be SMART
Being gun safe and smart is all about a conversation. It does not have to be your gun, but it could be your child. Properly store and secure your guns, and ask your neighbors and friends to do the same. Every year, nearly 1,300 children die from guns, and countless more are injured. Start the conversation. We can no longer afford to be silent.
For more information, resources, statistics, and graphs, please visit: