Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Guns and the Tooth fairy

Maxfield has a friend, Johnny, who lives up the street. Johnny comes to our house to play and they are, for the most part, somewhat supervised. I say somewhat because sometimes the two five-years-olds will go to Max's room to play with cars or action figures and neither Lauren or I are actually in the room where they are playing. I know the boys are safe in Max's room and that there is really nothing upstairs that could harm anyone. I know because it is my upstairs.

Max has been spending more and more time playing at Johnny's house. Johnny's parents are always home when Max is there and I have to assume that the boys are somewhat supervised. Johnny's parents are real nice people and they seem to have good instincts when it comes to their three kids. I can only guess at the "good instincts" part because I am only recently really getting to know them, but my gut tells me they are good people.

I am always paranoid when Max is not home with us and my thoughts and fears get the best of me. One day, while Max was at Johnny's house, I asked Lauren if she thought that Johnny's parents would own a gun. I explained my fascination with guns when I was kid and that I think to some extent little boys are drawn to weapons. I worried Max would be the same as me and that there was potential for danger. When I read or hear about children and firearm accidents it makes me sick to my stomach. I see and understand why people may own firearms but I know that I am not comfortable around guns and I will not have one in my house. * One day, when I feel Max is old enough I will have my friend DC teach him about gun safety but until then Max will know very little about the danger of guns.

My favorite line I have ever heard anyone say about guns was said by a guy I knew named Croke. He worked security with me in the nightclub business and one night while we were patting down patrons and checking for weapons a club-goer said to him "Don't worry, there is no need to check me. I don't believe in guns."
Croke laughed and said, "Don't believe? Listen buddy, guns are not like the Easter Bunny or the Tooth fairy. Guns DO Exist. So you better believe I am going to check you."

So yes, I believe in guns. I believe they exist. I know they exist.

Lauren did her best to calm my fears but she did think, that maybe, I should ask Johnny's parents if they had a gun in the house. I told her I would ask them when I went to pick-up Max that afternoon. I told myself I had a right to know if they had a gun because my son was there a lot.

As I walked the 5 houses up to Johnny's house I had a change of position. I was not going to ask them about guns in their home. I had no right to ask them. Sure I could ease my own worry about Max's safety but in reality where would my questions stop. If they did or did not own a gun I am sure there were other things in their house that could harm Max. Was I then going to ask them if there were any prescription pills in the house that Max could mistakenly think were PEZ candy? Taking medication could kill him just like a gun could. Was I going to ask them how far from their kitchen counter's edge they kept their kitchen cutlery? Max could have a fatal accident with a sharp object. Or should I ask if they cut all of their blinds strings down to a size that could not strangle a young boy. Was I going to ask in the future how much alcohol the parents drank in the event that one of them may eventually take Max in their car to get ice cream and wrap their vehicle around a tree? Drunk Driving is another serious way of harming someone. The possibilities are endless.

I never did ask them about the gun. As much as it is my business, it is also none of my business. I have to trust my gut with the fact that Johnny's parents are good people and that if they do have a gun in their house, it is properly locked up and out of the way.

But the question...it still nags me in the back of mind...you know?

So Internet people, what would you do? Do you ask your children's friend's parents if they have a gun? OR do you let it go?

This is not a question about the right to own a gun, but more of a question is it a right to ask someone if they own a gun?


* Please note that since I have publicly stated that I do not have a gun and in case you are some creepy criminal who now realizes you can try and invade and rob my home...I may not be able to shoot you dead for breaking in my house, but I sure as hell would wrestle you and force my (generic non narcotic) prescription pills down your throat and then I would tie your neck up on the pull string to my(not a name brand or worht anything) blinds as I slug back about 8 shots of ( regular run of of the mill cheap stuff) tequila and get in my car (which is a KIA and not worth stealing) and run your ass over.

43 comments:

Susie said...

Well, you KNOW that they have Rx pills, most likely alcohol, etc., so you don't need to ask those things. When my kid started going to other people's houses, I asked the question. I figured, if the people whose home she was going to really were safety-conscious parents like I was, they would completely understand my asking, and not be offended in the least. If they were offended, then they didn't get where I was coming from as a parent, and that gave me some info about them. I am shy, and it was hard for me. But not as hard as finding out later that I should have asked. Better to risk social awkwardness than my kid's safety. So I'd just say, "I hope you'll understand, I need to ask, 'Do you have a gun in your home?'" Most people said no. And they were surprised, and said that no one had ever asked them that, and now they were going to ask people, too. One person said yes, because her husband was in law enforcement, and she told me where and how it was secured (dismantled, actually), and she commended my asking. I know not everyone would react as well. Your child's safety is always your business, even if someone takes offense; and kid safety trumps etiquette, every single time. And I also think it's good role modeling for kids, to know that we check situations out as best we can, before we put ourselves in them, and don't be embarrassed about keeping yourself safe.

Not that I have any opinions on this matter.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

This is a tough one and you bring up some great points. My kids aren't at the play over somebody else's house yet stage, but this kind of thing nags at me.

Guns, booze, pills and unrestricted access to the internet.

eclectic said...

When we moved here in 2002, a boy across the street and our son began to play often together, and within a few days, the mother asked us whether we had a gun. We do not have a gun, and I was happy to inform her so. However, the question did set in motion a dynamic that placed a chill on what initially was a burgeoning friendship between our two families.

I began to feel we had to justify every choice we make as parents, and were being second-guessed at every turn, deemed worthy or not to be around them. Frankly, I spend enough mental energy just raising my kids, I don't have the luxury of left-over energy or time to encourage friendships that require that much extra effort.

They still live across the street. We see them to speak to maybe 2 or 3 times a year now, though we faithfully exchange holiday greetings and cookies.

So, I don't know... I'm with you. It's my business, yes, but if I don't know the parents all that well, I just don't let my kids go inside the houses of those kids. They can play outside in the yard with permission, but they know they cannot go inside.

I do sometimes tell parents whose kids I am interested in encouraging as friends to my own that we don't have any firearms in the house, so if that's a concern of theirs, they needn't worry about it at our home.

Tracy said...

I don't think it's an unreasonable thing to ask. The one thing that could cause tension in your particular situation is that Johnny used to come to your house before Max started spending more time at Johnny's. There's an inherent trust in you from Johnny's parents, and now it's seems like you might be second-guessing them. Tread lightly!

Anonymous said...

Bill I commend your ending to a rather serious topic very Marvel but that is okay.
I have a suggestion tell the parents before the playdate a little bit about yourself and Lauren. For instance I usually say" Let me tell you about my husband and myself
a. we don't have a gun in the house
b. we only drink socially
c. we don't partake in illegel drugs
usually people are happy to hear this and they chime in their response. Why do I do this..
while babysitting a five year old, many years ago, he pointed his fathers hunting rifle at me and said" DO I REALLY HAVE TO PUT MY PJS ON?" No joke. My neighbors, who are extremely nice, college educated all around great people, when told , said we always keep that cabinet locked. So even if they do... dismantel, lock up WHATEVER boys will be boys and they will figure it out. Wow you hit a nerve with that one!!! Speaking of the Easter Bunny...
Happy Easter to you, Lauren and the boys!!!!

Jody said...

I don't think it's unreasonable. You have every right to know what your child may be exposed to.

As for guns,I honestly feel the same way. But as the country gets scarier and people have less control over their emotions (among other things) I find myself thinking we may need a gun to protect ourselves. Although we do have a very large dog. He's our first line of defense. However, the jerk that may break into my house could have a gun. And I probably wouldn't get close enough to him to run him through with one our our many swords...

**Oh, yeah, guns are bad. The swords and daggers are throughout our house disguised as decor. I know, I know... The girls can't lift the swords and the daggers are up so high I can't reach them.

SciFi Dad said...

The key is subtlety... try opening a conversation with something like, "You know, I love to go out into the country and shoot tin cans off of fences, but I can't because the cops took my gun license after the incident. Could I borrow yours?"

See? Nice and simple.

In all seriousness, you're right: leaving your kid somewhere is a leap of faith, and something you need to consider seriously. You can never anticipate what could go wrong there, nor can you childproof someone else's home for the sake of your worries.

To answer your question succinctly, you have a right to know about the gun, but you don't have a right to ask for that information; it should only be offered willingly.

Michelle said...

I feel it's easier to talk to your kids about drugs & alcohol because they are around often. My husband RARELY drinks (we bought a 4 pack of Guinness on St Patty's Day 2008 & threw 1 of them out on St Patty's Day 2009) & I NEVER drink; however, they see alcohol at family parties, restaurants,... We give them medicines when they're sick & we talk to them about the dangers then (My kids LOVE the taste of Amoxicillin & always want more than the dose.). We are NEVER around guns so we never have the opportunity to discuss the dangers of guns with my children. I also don't feel it's necessary to discuss it with them too early, as I don't want them obsessed with guns.

Therefore, I do feel it's okay to ask someone about having guns in the house. Not everyone has guns in the house so it's a valid question. I'm not questioning the person's responsibility as a parent, I'm merely wondering is I need to have this discussion with my child yet. I am a HUGE believer in honesty & truth & I feel if someone gets offended over either then they aren't worth dealing with anyway. You're not asking them something personal that they shouldn't have to reveal; you're asking them a factual question about safety & they should tell you the honest answer.

Susie said...

One more thing I would add (because my first comment wasn't quite long enough) -- my child's school sent home a memo, encouraging people to ask. I thought that was an excellent thing for them to do. It opened doors so that the question might not seem so jarring. For me, it's an "informed consent" thing. It's not even necessarily that I would refuse to allow my kid to go there; it's that I have all the info I need to make the best decision I can. I feel I have a right to that. They certainly have a right to choose to take offense, if that's their bent. Again, that gives me more information about them.

Anonymous said...

This is my rifle, this is my gun.

Anonymous said...

Croke. RIP. He was something out of the Wild West.

Patience said...

We do have guns in our home. Some of my father's antique guns, some hunting guns, and a handgun or two.

These are kept locked in a hidden closet that only my husband and myself and one other person knows about.

One of the best things you can do is to discuss this topic with your children. Let them know what they should do if they see a gun in a friend's home. Let them know never ever touch one!

Knowledge is power!

David Cole said...

Given your audience for this blog, I expect you'll get lots of mommies quick to reassure you that you are well within your right to ask because you're protecting your babies.

Since that perspective will be well covered here, I'll give you an honest gun enthusiast's view.

Short answer: the questions are distrustful and a little off-putting, but its better to discuss your sincere concerns respectfully than let a fear nibble away at you inside. Handled with tact, you and your neighbor should become friendlier for having such a conversation.

With that said, I do know a lot of parents and gun people alike who are very defensive about people questioning their degree of care and responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever gone to AC with DC?

Circus Kelli said...

I never even thought to ask this. Oh my.

FilmFather said...

You absolutely have every right to ask. I support Susie's approach and logic, that it's better to risk social awkwardness than your kid's life.

Our older son's first playdate happened the other month at his friend's house, and the other boy's mom asked us, "Does your son have any restrictions?" We said half-jokingly, "No guns or nuclear weapons." After a chuckle, she freely offered up the fact that they do not own any guns.

I'm sure every situation is different, depending on how much you've interacted with the other kid's parents before the playdate happens. But no matter how you approach it, you should ask.

Sheri said...

Ask!

Why? Well, you have knives, sharp objects, strings on the blinds, prescription pills, etc. in your house. Those things wouldn't be of interest to Max because Max is used to seeing those things and has probably been taught not to touch. You DON'T have a gun. If he sees a gun in someones home, he WILL be interested in touching and possibly playing with it.

Believe me, as a parent, I would not be offended if the parent of a child that visits my home asked me that question. If I have kids and I own a gun, then I should have it locked up and I should be prepared to answer that question appropriately.

Would YOU be offended if a parent asked YOU that question?

If they get offended, then Max shouldn't be playing there. The way they react is their problem, not yours. Should something happen to Max because you were afraid of offending someone, that becomes YOUR problem, not theirs. Make sense?

Bogart in P Towne said...

I don't have kids and had to leave my guns in Cali...but I know how to make a potato gun and blow your butt up...I can teach Max if you like.

nancy h. said...

You did the right thing. And for anyone thinking of robbing your house,"those Kias are heavier than they look".

gigglepotamus said...

I agree with Susie 110%. No fellow parent should be offended at the question, and if they are, that's their problem. If it's someone you don't know that well, why WOULD you just automatically trust them? It's our responsibility to find out. I also agree that a good way to break the ice is to offer up the information about ourselves first, that way, it opens the door to have the conversation.

iVegasFamily said...

I'd ask. It's your child and you're a concerned parent. Why not put yourself at ease. It also may remind Johnny's parents to make their house safer. If they get offended, that's their problem. Again, your child's safety is your number one priority.

Anonymous said...

Johnny,

I want my liver back...

Anonymous said...

Give Primus $2.00 and send him down to ask Johnnies parents.

James said...

Maybe you should ask thier political leaning instead. A lot can be derived from such info.

Seriously though, I would feel bad about it, but probably ask.

Great post William.

Anonymous said...

I raised nine children. They all played at other folks places. I never once thought to ask about guns. I knew some of the parents were hunters and knew they had guns in the house, or garage or shed. I never worried about it or even thought of an accident happening. No parent ever asked me if we had guns in the house. Children were here all the time. I was here all the time, the other motheres were home all the time. We trusted each other. Common sense was a big thing back in the day. Not much of it left today. Responsibility was a big thing back in the day, not so much any more. Our worries were different. We did get to know our neighbors well, because of being home all the time. Moms were in and out of each others houses as much as the kids. Times have changed. Trust your gut. It will warn you!! If a gun owner is not responsible or doesn't have common sense, then accidents will happen. I just never felt the need to ask! momo9

RzDrms said...

bill, let me try to phrase this as best as i can as a parent who has yet to conceive and have her own (future) child(ren): i would clearly rather regret asking and possibly losing friends than regret not asking and possibly losing my child. period. it's pretty much black and white, when you weigh the two possible losses.

RzDrms said...

p.s. maybe even (fake)jokingly say to them: "hey, i'd rather risk losing you as a friend by asking than risk losing my kid by not asking!" if they are parents (and they clearly are), then they'll understand. if not, find new friends. can't find (hard to type this) a new Max.

Stina said...

I agree with a lot of the comments here...when it comes to our kiddos...we should absolutely feel a right to ask. From a safety standpoint...it IS your business.

I have to disagree with NOT talking to your children about guns, though. I think we all have to 'rehearse' for life outside our home while we are still in our home and being raised by our parents. As parents, we need to educate our children about what is safe and what is not. Just like you should have a conversation about tobaco, drugs, Rx pills, liquor, etc...I absolutely feel that it is vital to also have a conversation about guns. It doesnt have to be 'deep' (he is still young)...but maybe just bring it up once in a while...or if he has a toy gun or a toy with a gun or pretends to shoot something...you can talk about it. In a light-hearted manner. If you are consistant, though, then they will learn where you stand on that.

I have a three year old and a 16 month old and I've been talking to them about all of the above since they were newborns. I live in WY...a very big hunting state. Chances are they will have friends whose parents have guns (among other things) and it would just kill me if something were to happen to one of them and I had never once said anything.

Yes, Max is still young...but I'm reminded of stories in the news about little ones in Kindergarten bringing a gun to school and flashing it. Very scary.

I commend you for wanting your son to be educated on guns and to get some training in gun safety. I did not grow up around guns myself and am very nervous around them...however, my husband would like to buy one for hunting and one for protecting our family. I'm on board but we are definitely going to go through some gun safety training before that happens. Then we will be locking them up and only my husband and I will know where to locate them until the children are much older.

Sorry...I get carried away sometimes. Diarrhea of the mouth runs rampant in my family and carries over into my blog posts. It's an illness.

traci said...

Personally, I hate guns. I don't want them in my house EVER. It is a bit ironic, therefore, that my husband has more guns than I can count and they are in the house. I believe strongly in a persons right to own a gun however I don't want them anywhere near me. If it's on your mind, I say ask. I know someone who's son died in an accidental shooting because his friend was playing with a gun that was supposedly unloaded. It's a very sad story all around.

Melinda said...

Gee, Bill, you are scaring me, with your He Man talk!
I read this yesterday and I needed to think about this a bit. How did I feel about it?

Since my daughter is well into her 20's, I think she may be embarrassed to tears if I talked at all to her friends parents.
Joking aside, I worried more about giving my daughter over to someone in their car. There wasn't a back seat safety belt imperative back then. Yeah...I worried about that more.
The trouble is, the people who may do most harm to your child are not going to tell you and hide their it very well.
An example: A well respected lady was a secret day time drunk and collected her children and her neighbors children from school. She was in a bad accident and 2 children were killed. No one knew or suspected her alcoholism.
Now, am I scaring you?
I would support your asking questions. But bad people lie.

t_cole said...

I ask.
About guns.
and large dogs.
and if there are teenagers in the house.

I only get one shot at this parenting thing. (no pun intended)

We have guns. LOTS of them. I was raised in a family of hunters. Thanks Goodness - 'cause they fill my freeezer every year with meat!Our weapons are secured in a gun safe.
We have prescription drugs - they are secured in a locked tackle box.

I do not take offense to anyone asking me. In fact, I usually volunteer the info to 'new' friends.

Anonymous said...

The witch in Hansel and Gretel didn't have a gun

The Scholastic Decoder said...

In Canada, in the city, guns are pretty much a non-issue in most neighbourhoods, so no, I don't think to ask.

Sharfa said...

To me, this is a no brainer. Nothing is off limits when the safety of your kid is concerned.

Ask.

Any GOOD parent will not be offended by the question. Would you be?

Their reaction alone will tell you volumes. If they are offended by your question rather than impressed by your concern for your son's safety, are they really people you want to be friends with or have your son be around?

Mainline Mom said...

So, this has been a fear of mine since before I ever even thought of having kids. Probably because I'm from Philly, the land of illegal guns and gang shootings, etc, and yet I was never actually around any guns. My husband and I have argued a bit about this, mainly because he comes from a hunting family and was taught gun safety at a young age.

Now we live in Texas. I swear to GOD, it seems like EVERYONE carries a gun here. Not kidding. Housewives...moms I KNOW are getting concealed handgun licenses left and right because they are scared of breakins. The law protects defense of home shootings FAR more here than it did back in Pennsylvania, so I see more incidences of store owners shooting would-be robbers here than I ever saw in Philly...and also we don't have the gang/drug related murders day in and day out here. That part is refreshing.

Ok I'm rambling. So now this is a REAL issue with me, because so many people have guns here. My kid has not spent any time at friends houses yet, so I have not asked, but I suspect I will.

kcinnova said...

I've never asked that question. After reading your post and all of the previous commenters, I judge myself lacking in safety consciousness.
My brother owns guns (for hunting, for collecting, and for personal safety--he has a concealed handgun permit and uses it), teaches gun safety (he's rabid about safety), and of course locks the guns up in his safe which he keeps hidden. He is also a father of 3 sons. I am confident that if asked about gun safety in his house, he would proudly tell you the truth.

We did not watch TV shows with guns nor did we have toy guns, but my sons made guns out of Duplos. Right there is a teaching tool & opportunity.
We now have an archery set (really, it belongs to the 16yo) with rules about when and how it can be used.

I'm more concerned about sexual abuse and the kind of stuff the kids might see on someone else's TV screen (and these days, computer monitor).

It's a lot easier to ask if a neighbor has guns than if they watch porn.

Bearsie-boo said...

I think you KNOW the answer to your question - it IS your right to ask anything you want to anyone you want (freedome of speech?). You may or may not get an answer. You may or may not burn bridges. And give me a break - people lie!

My question would be, "Do you own porn?" Porn leads down a hugely destructive road. I'm pretty sure that only those who do not have any porn in their home would answer honestly - the rest are lying but will still give the same answer as the honest person.

I think what you are really asking here is, "Are you responsible?" Unfortunately, not many people are any more. I heartily agree with MOM09 on this.

Good luck on finding good friends for your good kids.

kalki said...

I have no advice to contribute so I'll share a story instead. My parents are very conservative and do not believe in drinking alcohol. My best friend in 1st grade had parents that drank beer. Somehow my mom knew this, I'm not sure how. But the first time I was going over to her house, my mom said, "Kelly, these people drink beer. We don't believe in that, but it's their choice. But if they offer you any, you should say no." If they OFFER ME ANY?! In her mind, I think all beer drinkers are terrible people not to be trusted, people who corrupt children. Of course, she still let me go over to play.

kalki said...

(I should add that this is why I hide the beer when my parents are coming over.)

The Maid said...

I had this exact thought and question pop into my brain this past week. My daughter went to a school friends sleepover bday party on Friday night. I do not "know" the family...but I know of them. I know the daughter...and my kids and I have lived in our neighborhood for 6 years...and they have attended that school for 6 years. So these parents are around...at everything...visible.

I pulled up at the bday party fully dressed and make-upped to make a good impression and to speak face to face with the party hostess. Let me just say that I was uncomfortable but not alarmed. The mom was not very personable...but the house was clean...the kids were pleasant, clean, and excited at heck that my daughter had just arrived. (People dig us. LOL)

So anyhoots...I smelled alcohol. I am 99% sure that it was from the lady standing next to me...another mom dropping off a kid. She was holding her dog...chatting with the other ladies and had a handful of piercings and tatoos. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.)

So...I kissed my daughter, told her to call me...and insisted that the party mom call me should there be any reason or need to call me. I could be there in a flash.

Next morning came and my hubby picked up our daughter. The sleepover dad never came to the door, never spoke to my hubby, and there were empty beer bottles all over the tables in the front room. (Game room)

AAAHHHHH!!!!!

Hey...let's play pool, air hockey, toss back a few...and then go in your room and play truth or dare?

Could this be the kind of night my 9 year old had?

Sorry to be so long-winded....but I agree with you and your concern and must say.......
YOU have every right and the responsibility to ask the hard questions!

We are responsible people who are vigilant and can usually read people...but I missed that cue! No telling if they played with guns while they were playing amongst the beer-drinking anti-social party hosts!

UGH! :)
The Maid

Nature Girl said...

I've been on both sides of this fence...I'm the one who won't ask as I feel it's none of my business and If I didn't trust the people to be responsibly I didn't allow my child to go to their house alone, I have also been asked by other parents who were very cautious and I was not at all offended by the question. However, when asked by one parent who creeped me out, I lied and said I did...with my husband in the military I'm home alone alot and I didn't want him to think I was vulnerable.

Stacie

James said...

First, let's be honest -- there are a million ways under the sun that you can offend someone, so regardless of the approach there's potential for someone to take offense.

We don't own any guns and I wouldn't take any offense if a parent asked me if I did.

I've actually become very interested in this very topic recently and have been doing all kinds of research. I wanted to take a look at the bigger picture. Guns carry with them a particular fear factor that maybe makes this a bigger issue than it is. Personally I've always been scared and intimidated by guns. On the few occasions that I've been around them I felt too uncomfortable to even handle them. It reminded me of the exact feeling I got the first time my dad showed me how to use his circular saw. Just as I was sure I might slice a finger off with the saw, I was certain that by picking up a hand gun I'd probably shoot myself in the foot. Or worse. But I'm not afraid of circular saws now and the more I thought about my gun fear, the more I realized that feeling intimidated by firearms was both unhealthy and probably the riskiest attitude to have towards them. So I decided to do something about it. I can't expect myself to make the best decisions about something I know nothing about. I've been going to a local shooting range to learn more about the proper handling and use of firearms. And it's changed my outlook. Now I developing an informed respect for guns, not just a simple fear. I still have zero intention to keep guns in my home, but I now feel much, much more equipped as a parent to address guns with my children.

Now, as far as asking another parent about their gun ownership... I don't think I would ask. I think the parents' obligation to maintain a safe environment for my child is no more or less significant whether or not they own firearms. I either trust them or I don't. If you trust these people and you find out they have a gun, what is your next step? Inspect their home to assess their firearm safety standards? It is still going to come down to either trusting them or not, with or without a gun. Not having a gun in the home certainly doesn't make them more trustworthy. To a curious or imaginative child there is always the potential for danger in the home. The list of questions for another parent might as well be endless. Got a gun? Any circular saws? Table saws? A shop? Do you keep the car keys anywhere accessible? Cleaning supplies locked up? Gates on the stairs? Scissors put away? Knives out of sight? Pool covered? With a locked gate? Alcohol out of reach? Knobs on the stove reachable? Matches hidden? Lawnmower gas can locked up? Pruning sheers disassembled? It could go on forever. Like I said, you either trust them to maintain a safe environment or you don't.

So in all my gun-fear worrying, I also looked at some statistics. Here are the number of deaths in 2005, by cause, for the 1-14 year old range. The accidents are relevant to this discussion, but I threw in a few diseases/illnesses for relativity.

Motor Vehicle Accidents: 2,064
Drowning Accidents: 746
Cardiovascular Diseases: 584
Smoke/Fire Accidents: 426
Leukemia: 395
Pneumonia and Influenza: 216
Asthma: 134
Firearm Accidents: 74
Poison Accidents: 72
Falls: 66

Source: CDC

Of course, this is a wide age range and the stats shift around based on the age. For example, in the 1-4 age range, more kids die from falls than from firearm accidents.

As with most things, the safest course of action is probably making sure that one's kids are confident enough and educated enough to act in the safest way possible even when an adult isn't around.

And all that being said, if you have to ask the question, then you have to ask the question. Your kids' safety trumps possibly offending someone... infinitely so.

Sorry, for the long response! (Maybe I'll copy and paste my thoughts to my own blog...)

Jo's Outlet said...

Wow. I don't have anything original to say except that I would try to "educate" my child on what is OK to play with and what is not. Of course it's hard to be thorough on that topic. James already mentioned all the things kids can get into at a friend's house. I would definitely get to know the parents first before sending my kid over to play. Then, go with the gut. That seems to be what my parents did with me.