GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As kids head back to school, safety is a major worry. It’s not just for parents but kids themselves and that can lead to some difficult conversations about guns, school shootings and violence.
Within the last year, we’ve seen very young children have access to unloaded and loaded guns at school and even at home – accidentally shooting themselves and others.
“Parents really need to get educated so we can educate these students,” Daryle Rostic, owner of Smart Shooters in Grand Rapids said. “Everything is taboo until you become an adult and they you get exposed to it in the worst way and I just kind of want to change that.”
Rostic says securing your weapons is critical. having that tough conversation with your child is important too.
“Those conversations have to be had and I believe by having those conversations you can change the narrative for a child on what a firearm is so they don’t even want to handle it,” he said.
Rostic suggests parents ask the following questions when determining if and when they should have a conversation with their child about firearms and firearms safety.
- How old is your child? Tailor those conversations based on how old your child is.
- How much exposure have they had to firearms? The more exposure, the more curiosity. If you haven’t taken away that curiosity from the children, they will have their opportunity.
- Is your child asking questions? You should provide a safe space for your child to ask questions and have the appropriate response. You don’t want them to get it on their own or from someone who may not be a good source of information. They should know who is authorized to touch and handle a firearm if it’s in the household.
- Is your child learning how to resolve conflict? If so, teach your child that firearms should be used for emergency purposes only and not conflict with a family member, member or even a stranger.
“They would know something was wrong if they were at school and saw it because their parents have taught them that this is only to be handled in case of an emergency or in a safe environment like a gun range,” he said. “You’re creating that foundation. I believe that raises responsible American citizens.”
As you’re preparing to get your child ready for this upcoming school year, Rostic also suggests parents make sure their child has a protection plan.
This includes knowing their address and phone numbers for emergency contacts. Plus, what to do if approached by a stranger.
“Your children are dealing with this every single day. You have to have something right now. To me, the first step with the most impact will always be education,” he said.
For more information on how to have a conversation with your child about firearms visit the company’s Youtube channel.