Gun Safety:

Gun control, or the right to own guns, is a controversial topic.  The AAP’s official stance is that guns should never be in the home.  However, this is an individual decision and we want to take this opportunity to review gun safety for adults who choose to keep guns at home.  The latest statistics from the AAP show that a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to injure or kill someone known to the family than to harm someone in self-defense.  Moreover, the risk of suicide is 5 times higher if a gun is kept in the home.  Based on this data, it is clear that guns in the home can pose a serious risk to family members and we encourage parents to take a few steps to ensure their children’s safety.

  • Parents should talk to their teens about the dangers of
  • Guns should always be stored unloaded and locked up
  • Lock and store the bullets/ammunition in a separate place
  • Make sure to hide the keys to the locks where the guns and bullets are stored
  • Find out if there are guns in the homes where your teens spend time and talk to the adults in those homes about taking similar safety measures
Helmet Safety:

Teens who use non-motorized vehicles (bicycles, tricycles, skateboards, in-line skates, and scooters) are always at risk for traumatic brain injuries, particularly when they collide with motor vehicles.   It is important for children and teens of all ages to understand the importance of wearing helmets.  They may think that wearing helmets is inconvenient or simply “not cool.”  It is up to the parents and caregivers to enforce helmet safety.

Sports-Related Head Injuries:

Each year, US emergency departments treat an estimated 173,285 sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussion, among minors from birth to 19 years of age.  This number last increased by almost 60% in the past decade.  The activities associated with the highest number of head injury-related ER visits include bicycling, football, basketball, soccer and playground activities.  Children and teens are more likely to sustain traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, than adults and take longer to recover than adults.  The symptoms may be mild but if not diagnosed and addressed, can lead to long-term consequences affecting the individual’s memory, behavior, learning and/or emotions. 

Two things that should alert you to the possibility of a concussion:

  • A forceful bump, blow or jolt to the head that results in a rapid movement of the head
  • Any change in your child’s behavior, thinking or physical functioning

If your teen complains of headaches, blurred vision, confusion, concentration difficulty, he or she may be experiencing symptoms of a concussion.  Talk to your teen’s physician right away if you think he or she may have a concussion.  Take him/her to the ER if he or she is unresponsive, has severe headache or is having seizure-type activity.  

Click here for more information on head injuries and concussions in athletes.

Car Safety:

According to the CDC website, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the U.S.    Teen drivers may not always recognize hazardous situations or may underestimate dangerous situations.  They are also more likely to drive too fast or leave too little space between cars.  In recent years, talking on the phone or texting while driving are increasingly implicated factors in teenage car accidents.  Even more concerning is the fact that higher rates of fatalities among teens in car crashes are likely related to low rates of seat belt use among teens.   Drinking and driving is another major factor in teen vehicle accidents.  One study showed that in 2010, 22% of drivers aged 15-20 involved in fatal car accidents were drinking.  

Prevention and education are the best tools we have to combat these factors.  Graduated licensing programs, where teens must first get a permit before they can apply for a driver’s license, have been proven to reduce the rates of vehicle accidents among teens.  Parents are also crucial to teen driving safety.  Teens learn by example and it is important that their parents set a good example for them.  They can do this by driving safely, always wearing their seatbelts and by taking the time to educate their teens on driving safety and the perils of drinking and driving.