Campaign increases likelihood parents will ask about guns before a playdate

September 15, 2017

CHICAGO - The Asking Saves Kids (ASK) campaign is effective in increasing parents' comfort level in asking if there is a gun where their child plays, according to research being presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2017 National Conference & Exhibition in Chicago Monday, Sept. 18.

"Gun violence is a public health epidemic in the United States, but a simple question or short conversation about gun safety can protect children from this danger," said lead author Nina Agrawal MD, FAAP. "This study shows us that parents are far more likely to ask about guns in a home before a playdate if they feel empowered by their pediatricians to do so, and asking can save precious young lives."

The AAP recommends that physicians talk to families about gun safety as part of routine injury-prevention guidance, just like they counsel families about child safety seats, safe sleep and water safety. The ASK campaign encourages caregivers to ask family and friends if there is a gun where their child plays and, if a gun is present, to ensure that it is locked with the ammunition separately.

The study was conducted in the South Bronx neighborhood of New York, a neighborhood with high rates of gun violence. Nine percent of participants said they knew someone who was the victim of gun violence.

Pediatric residents talked with families visiting a health clinic about why it's important to ask about the presence of guns where their child will play, and gave tips on having this conversation. Participants also received a brochure. Prior to receiving ASK education, only 8 percent of caregivers had asked about guns in a home where their child was playing, and only 44 percent felt comfortable asking if there is a gun where their child plays. After learning about the ASK campaign, 85 percent of caregivers said they felt comfortable asking about guns.

This study demonstrated that the ASK campaign is effective in increasing caregivers' comfort level in asking if there is a gun where their child plays, Dr. Agrawal said.

Only 11 percent of caregivers reported a doctor provided gun safety information to them, but 96 percent of caregivers said they wanted their doctor to provide it.

"It's stunning to note that 9 percent of the children whose families were involved in this study knew a victim of gun violence, which shows how common this health crisis is in communities of need. Pediatricians should engage their patients and families in conversations about this important topic so that parents know that they can and should be asking about gun safety," Dr. Agrawal said. "Families we interviewed overwhelmingly told us that they wanted their pediatricians to provide this information to them."
Dr. Agrawal will present the abstract, "Effectiveness of Asking Saves Kids gun violence prevention campaign in an urban pediatric clinic," on Monday, Sept. 18, from 3:26 to 3:34 p.m. in McCormick Place West, Room S106. A copy of the abstract is below, but please call the AAP Department of Public Affairs at 948-434-7877 or e-mail for more information.

Please note: only the abstract is being presented at the meeting. In some cases, the researcher may have more data available to share with media, or may be preparing a longer article for submission to a journal.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit

Abstract Title: Effectiveness of the Asking Saves Kids gun violence prevention campaign in an urban pediatric clinic

PURPOSE Gun violence is a leading cause of injury deaths in children in the United States. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that "the absence of guns from children's homes and communities" is the most effective means to prevent firearm injuries in children. Bright Futures guidelines recommends that pediatricians provide gun safety education to caregivers beginning in infancy. However, few pediatricians provide this important injury prevention education. The Asking Saves Kids (ASK) campaign, promoted by the AAP, encourages caregivers to ask if there is a gun where their child plays and, if a gun is present, to ensure the gun is locked, unloaded, with the ammunition stored separately. There is limited literature on the effectiveness of the ASK campaign. The primary purpose of our study was to determine if ASK education provided by pediatricians increases caregivers' comfort level in asking if there is a gun where their child plays. METHODS Participants (n=100) were English and Spanish speaking caregivers accompanying children in an urban hospital based pediatric clinic serving a low income population (95% receive Medicaid), from January to March 2017. Participants were provided standardized ASK education verbally and an ASK pamphlet by a pediatric resident. A 15 item post-education questionnaire was administered to participants. RESULTS Demographics of participants were: 91% female, 75% Latino, 15% African American, median age 32 years old, 44% did not graduate high school, 70% received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Women, Infants and Children Program benefits. The median age of the oldest child of participants was 5 years old with 17% less than 1 year old. Nine percent of children knew someone who had been injured or killed by a gun. This was experienced more among African-American children but this result was not statistically significant. Only 11% of participants reported a doctor talked to them about gun safety before receiving ASK education. However, 96% of participants thought that doctors should provide ASK education to parents. Eight percent of participants reported they had asked if there is a gun where their child plays and 44% felt comfortable asking if there is a gun where their child plays prior to receiving ASK education. After receiving ASK education, 85% of participants reported they felt comfortable asking if there is a gun where their child plays (n=98,X2=36.51,p< .0005) and 83% of participants reported a willingness to ask if there is a gun where their child plays. CONCLUSIONS This study demonstrated that (1) ASK education provided by pediatricians is effective in increasing caregivers' comfort level in asking if there is a gun where their child plays and (2) Caregivers feel that pediatricians should provide ASK education. Research is needed to determine if use of ASK reduces gun injuries amongst children.

American Academy of Pediatrics

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