There are many things that can cause a debate in the parenting world, ranging from how you feed your child to how you put your child to sleep to everything in between. Children’s toys and the appropriateness of allowing young children to play toys fashioned in the image of weapons such as guns has been debated among parents and parenting professionals for years.
Many parents will argue that children will turn any toy in to a gun, and that it’s all part of imaginative play, while others argue that the current influx of gun violence in the United States should be enough for parents and caregivers to do everything possible to try to avoid children playing with toy guns.
As with most toys over the years, toy guns have gone through an incredible overhaul. Now there are an endless number of toy guns for purchase, with some looking incredibly realistic, so much so that sometimes the police can't tell them apart from real guns. In a survey published on MedPage Today it seems that many parents and caregivers are giving their children too much credit in assuming they can tell the difference between toy guns and real guns as well.
Kiesha Fraser Doh, MD, of Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues conducted the study and found that between 53% to 74% of parents and caregivers thought their child would be able to tell a real gun from a toy gun. An even larger number of children, between 68% to 88%, believed they could as well. In reality, only 41% of children between the ages of 7 and 17 were able to actually tell the difference between the two.
Fraser Doh commented on the findings at an American Academy of Pediatrics press conference saying, "one of our most dramatic findings was how easily caregivers and children can confuse real guns with today's realistic looking toy guns."
What makes this news even more alarming is that only 34% of gun owners were following the recommendations of the AAP when it came to storing firearms in their home. The AAP suggests that firearms are locked unloaded and that all ammunition is locked away separately from the firearm. A shocking 53% of survey respondents said they weren't storing their firearms "safely or securely."
Many parents may be assuming their children would be able to differentiate between a real gun and a toy gun, but this survey is showing that isn't always the case. Having an incorrectly stored firearm in the house is dangerous and could be tragic if a child was able to gain access to it.
"If you think about it, the majority of parents are storing their firearms insecurely, and the children cannot tell the difference between a real gun and a toy firearm," Fraser Doh noted. "What this study tells us is that it behooves pediatricians to continue to educate their families on how to store firearms safely, and is a reminder to parents to check on how firearms are being stored in homes where their children are visiting."