Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Study: Viewing a Short Gun Safety Video Enhances Pre-Adolescents' Caution with Firearms


Children taking handgun safety class with disabled firearms.

Research, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that exposure to a brief gun safety video heightened caution in children who later discovered a real handgun concealed in a drawer in our laboratory. This heightened caution was observed even though the video was watched a week prior at their homes and after viewing scenes from a violent film in our lab.

In the study, which examined the responses of 226 children aged between 8 and 12 years old. Via a random selection process, each child was assigned to watch either a gun safety video or a car safety video individually at home. The Ohio State University Chief of Police, in full uniform, was the leading figure in both videos, which seemed impactful as younger children tend to respect uniformed authority figures.

The subsequent part of the study took place a week later at our lab in Ohio State. Pairs of children, friends or siblings for example, were asked to partake in a so-called study exploring children's entertainment choices. The session started with the children watching snippets from a violent movie rated PG. Then, after 20 minutes, they were moved to a playroom filled with various toys and games, including Lego and checkers, along with two disarmed 9mm handguns concealed in a bottom drawer of a file cabinet. The children were told they could play with any toy in the room and left unsupervised. Their actions were recorded via a hidden camera.

By the close of the 20-minute period, 96% of the children had discovered the concealed guns. This curiosity in children is expected and adults often do not fully appreciate a child's ability to locate hidden firearms.

The children who had previously watched the gun safety video showed distinctively different behavior from those who had watched the car safety video. They were more inclined to inform an adult (33.9% of children vs. 10.6%), were less prone to handling a gun (39.3% vs. 67.3%) and, if they did handle it, they held it for a shorter duration (42.0 seconds vs. 99.9 seconds). They were also less inclined to pull the trigger (8.9% vs. 29.8%), and if they did, they pulled it fewer times (4.2 vs. 7.2).

Chart: The Conversation, CC-BY-ND

Several risk factors, including gender, exposure to violent films rated PG-13 and R, and an existing interest in guns as reported by parents, were associated with an increased likelihood of unsafe behavior around guns.

In contrast, several protective factors appeared to decrease the likelihood of unsafe gun behavior. These included prior exposure to gun safety material, living in a household where guns were present (since parents with guns tend to discuss gun safety more frequently), and having a negative perspective on guns (such as not considering them as cool or fun).

This study does not provide data on how long the influence of gun safety videos might persist; therefore, further longitudinal studies are required. The study's results should also be verified in more natural settings, such as at home, and with a wider variety of children's ages and geographic locations beyond Ohio.

Most ongoing research on gun safety and children mainly concentrates on responsible gun access and secure gun storage. For instance, The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that guns should be stored unloaded, locked, and separate from ammunition.

No comments:

Post a Comment