Treatment

A young child who has a persistent problem with fighting, biting, or aggressive behavior should be taken to a child and adolescent psychiatrist or psychologist who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of behavior problems in very young children.

firearms Firearm injuries are the second leading cause of death for young people 10 to 24 years of age. For every child killed, four are wounded. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the center to prevent handgun violence, in 1994 nearly 90 percent of homicide victims aged 15 to 19 were killed with a firearm. Of violent deaths in schools, 77 percent are caused by firearms. About half all homes in the United States contain a firearm, and more than half of the handguns at home are loaded. In 1996 more than 1,300 children aged 10 to 19 committed suicide with firearms.

Many experts believe that the best way to protect children against gun violence is to remove all guns from the home. If guns are kept in the home, there will always be dangers, but the danger can be lessened by:

• storing all firearms unloaded and uncocked in a securely locked container whose whereabouts is known only to the parents

• guns and ammunition should be stored in separate locked locations

• a revolver should have a trigger lock or a padlock around the top strap of the weapon to prevent the cylinder from closing

• a pistol should have a trigger lock

A gun being handled or cleaned should never be left unattended, even for a moment. Parents who do not own a gun should check with other parents where their children play to make sure safety precautions are followed. Nearly 40 percent of accidental handgun shootings of children under 16 occurred in the homes of friends and relatives, most often when children were left unsupervised.

Children and adolescents with emotional or behavioral problems may be more likely than other children to use guns, against themselves or others. Parents who are concerned that their child is too aggressive or might have an emotional disorder may wish to seek an evaluation by a child and adolescent psychiatrist.

The average American child witnesses a great deal of violence on TV, in movies, and through computer games. Studies have found that children are more aggressive after extensive viewing of violence. Experts suggest that parents watch TV, movies, and videos with their children, ration TV, and disapprove of the violent episodes in front of the children, stressing the belief that such behavior is not the best way to resolve a problem.

fireworks Each year fireworks injure thousands of American children and teenagers; in 1999, 3,825 children younger than 15 were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries. Boys between five and 14 years of age have the highest fireworks-related injury rate. The hands (40 percent), eyes (20 percent), and head and face (20 percent) are the areas most often involved, and about a third of all eye injuries from fireworks result in permanent blindness.

Many types of fireworks are perfectly legal to use, but every type of legally available consumer firework has been associated with serious injury or death. Nearly two-thirds of fireworks-related injuries are caused by backyard class C fireworks such as firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles, fountains, and sparklers, all of which are legal in many states. More than half of all fireworks-related injuries are associated with firecrackers, followed by bottle rockets and sparklers.

The most severe injuries, however, are usually caused by class B fireworks such as rockets, cherry bombs, and M-80s, which are federally banned from public sale. About 29 percent of all injuries are caused by illegal firecrackers.

In spite of federal regulations and varying state bans, class B and C fireworks are often easily bought by children. It is not uncommon to find fireworks distributors near state borders, where residents of states with strict fireworks regulations can take advantage of more lenient state laws next door.

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