Introduction: The purpose of this research study was to describe parents' behaviors, knowledge, and beliefs related to unintentional firearm injuries among children and youth.
Method: A convenience sample of 80 parents whose children were attending one of six Kindercare Learning Centers in a Southwestern city was surveyed during the summer of 1995 to learn about their behaviors, knowledge and beliefs about unintentional firearm injuries among children and youth. Data on demographic characteristics, behaviors, knowledge, and beliefs, were collected with a questionnaire.
Results: Men and parents who had grown up with a gun in the house were more likely to be gun owners. Forty-eight percent of parents kept at least one gun in the home. Twenty-six percent of gun owners reported that the gun was loaded at all times, and 18% reported that a gun was kept within reach of a child. The most common reason given by parents for having a gun was for protection (61%). Only 8% of parents reported having discussed firearm safety with a health care worker. None of the parents had discussed firearm safety with a pediatrician. A test of knowledge about firearm injuries revealed some gaps in knowledge, with no significant differences between men and women or gun owners and non-gun owners.
Discussion: Results suggest that firearms in the home continue to pose a significant risk to children. Anticipatory guidance from NPs and pediatricians is needed to protect children from unintentional firearm injuries.