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Asking Saves Kids (ASK) - Washington is a public safety education campaign aimed at encouraging inquiry by parents and neighbors about guns in homes where their children play. Our goal is to persuade parents that this conversation—to ensure that their kids play in a gun safe environment—is an essential parental responsibility.
Despite the very real dangers of guns in proximity to children, pro-active dialogue is necessary due to the often delicate nature of any conversation in this country involving guns. Thus, this effort does not interfere with nor infringe upon anyone’s right to legally possess a gun, but normalizes parent responsibility to ask and make an informed decision that where their children play is safe.
The conversation is worth the effort given that ten children a day in this country under the age of 18 are killed or injured in the home with a gun. An estimated 40% of homes in the US (and in Washington State) have guns. A recent study by King County Public Health found there are at least 5,000 homes in the county with children and unlocked guns.
Our strategy in changing parental behavior is: 1) to highlight those instances where a gun in the home resulted in a tragedy involving a child, and 2) to impress upon parents that ensuring their child’s safety trumps any inconvenience or discomfort in neighbor to neighbor conversation. Central to the ASK program is educating and supporting parents in making the most tactful outreach possible to minimize awkwardness and maintain neighborly relationships.
ASK – Washington is a non-political program led by Washington Ceasefire to involve the widest possible group of participants and partners for effective reduction of accidental gun death and injury to children. Ideally, that contingent will involve fellow gun safety organizations like the national Brady Campaign; parental groups like the state and local PTAs; health organizations like Seattle Children’s Hospital, doctors, mental and public health care providers; youth groups like The Boys and Girls Clubs, the YMCA, and the YWCA; media organizations such as ParentMap, local TV stations, and NPR; government offices such as King County Public Health; and private and public businesses. These groups are valued for their knowledge and viewpoints on the topic, and their reach in spreading the word: get advanced knowledge of gun availability where children play.
Tactically, we plan to build awareness across the greater Seattle, tri-county media market with a combined effort including: public relations (press releases, bylines and media outreach); printed educational materials including brochures, buttons and posters; social media, including a dedicated Facebook page and Twitter; digitally, including an informational web page linked to all partners; and, if budget allows, a combination of public service advertising announcements, possibly including billboards, TV and radio.
We have given presentations at PTA meetings and information nights at schools in Green Lake, West Seattle, Magnolia and Lake Sammamish, to name a few. All presentations were very well received, with parents empowered to keep their kids safe and start a conversation about our gun culture. If you are interested in hosting and/or participating in an ASK presentation, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Washington CeaseFire Executive Director