I originally published this in a child care newsletter where I was working. You may be able to use the content or message to share with parents. Although this happened to me 12 years ago, the message here is as important as ever!
Dear Parents and Families:
While I was on vacation in Florida this past January, I was a witness to a tragedy. I was staying with my mother in an apartment complex that encircled a lovely courtyard. It was the young family that lived directly across from my mother that caught my attention for the first day of my stay. They were my mother’s closest neighbors and it was difficult not to notice the two young children riding a big wheel and pull house along the walk that passed through the cluster of palm tress.
Two days later, it was the blare of sirens that caught my attention. the noise drew us, among other courtyard residents, out into the warm night air. A friend of my mother, who often watched these delightful preschoolers, ran past police and paramedics and in through the propped open door. She emerged with the older child, a blond boy of four, clinging to her and sobbing. I could hear him repeat, “I didn’t want to hurt my sister. I hurt Calli bad.” It took awhile for my mother’s friend to comfort this little boy.
There was no one able to comfort the mother when the police told her that her two-year-old daughter was dead.
The shooting was ruled an accident, but an accident is usually defined as an unavoidable incident. this tragedy was avoidable. The two children were playing unsupervised in the parent’s bedroom. A loaded handgun was lying in the nightstand. Carlton only shot his sister once, but in the chest, and from a distance of only three feet.
I found that my reaction was shared by many of the people gathers in the courtyard that night; a feeling of helplessness. A terrible tragedy had happened and nothing could be done. It was then I realized, although there nothing I could do to change what happened, maybe I could prevent this tragedy from happening to the families and children we care about in our program.
Therefore, I implore you to properly secure all firearms and keep safety a primary concern, preventing avoidable accidents and tragedies like the one I have shared with you here.
American children are twelve times more likely to die from gun injuries than are youngsters in all other industrialized nations combined
In 2005, 69 preschoolers were killed by firearms compared to 53 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
More 10- to 19-year-olds die from gunshot wounds than from any other cause except motor vehicle accidents.