June 8, 2019

Every morning in America, more than 4.6 million children wake up in a home with a loaded, unsecured gun. Imagine if that number was just 2 million, or imagine if we could educate the number to zero. The Be SMART program aims to do just that.

The Be SMART framework is designed to help parents and adults navigate tough conversations and take responsible actions that can prevent child gun deaths and injuries. By following the steps of Be SMART, supporters hope to reduce the nearly 1,500 deaths by gun every year in American children under the age of 18.

*S – Secure your guns in homes and vehicles. Guns should be stored locked and unloaded with ammunition stored separately.

*M – Model Responsible Behavior. It is always the adults’ responsibility to prevent opportunities for children to have access to guns.

*A – Ask about unsecured guns in the homes your child visits. This can be done with a phone call, face-to-face conversation or even a text.

*R – Recognize the role of guns in suicide. 85 percent of suicide attempts with a gun result in death. It is our responsibility to keep guns out of the hands of children and teens.

*T – Tell your peers to Be SMART. By starting the conversation we can keep our community safer.

As parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and community members we all want the children in our lives to grow up happy and healthy. We each have the right to make responsible decisions about how to protect our homes, families and neighborhoods, including whether or not to have a gun in the home. If we can prevent even one child gun death or injury, it’s our responsibility to do so.

If you would like more information about the Be SMART program or would like a Be SMART presenter come to your community group, please visit us at besmartforkids.org

Author Hilary Graves is a community advocate and leader and former educator in the LSR-7 School District. She is a guest author for the Lee’s Summit Health Education Advisory Board, a Mayor-appointed, volunteer board that promotes and advocates community health by assessing health issues, educating the public and government agencies, developing plans to address health issues, encouraging partnerships and evaluating the outcomes.