Keeping NJ’s kids safe from firearms — new report focuses on storage, education
There's a new pool of information and tips for schools, parents, officials, and organizations that want to better protect kids and teens from violence and tragic accidents involving guns.
A task force created by the New Jersey School Boards Association in December is out with a new report on firearms safety, noting that injuries from guns are the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the U.S. today.
"When we actually got into the weeds on this, we saw how much research there was out there that probably was not of common distribution to school boards and communities at large," said Raymond Wiss, president emeritus of NJSBA and chair of the association's Task Force on Firearm Safety in Schools.
The 56-page report, Firearms Safety: Process, Programs and Practices for Safety in School, Home and Community, recognizes that children spend only a portion of their day within the confines of their respective school districts.
"The exposure to guns, and therefore gun violence, can occur in many places," Wiss said.
So the recommendations in the report — there are dozens — are meant to facilitate a conversation between school boards and other entities.
Wiss said no matter what side of the gun debate someone is on, it's agreed that secure firearm storage is key to keeping children out of harm's way.
One suggested action in the report, for example, is the development of public information campaigns, with the help of community input, on the safe handling and storage of firearms.
Public information campaigns on gun safety may include a voluntary pledge signed by parents and guardians that attest to the following:
– Any weapons in their home are stored safely and are not accessible to unsupervised children;
– They will contact the homes that their children visit to determine the status of firearm security, and
– They will welcome such contacts from families of children who visit their homes.
"Our hope is that they can use this report — the research, the findings, the information — to facilitate a greater discussion at the local level for what's best for their communities," Timothy Purnell, executive director of NJSBA, told New Jersey 101.5.
The report also touts the benefits of programs such as Project ChildSafe, through which more than 125 local law enforcement agencies in New Jersey offer gun safety kits, including gun locks, for free.