Educating Communities in Safe Gun Practices

Working with Children Who Have Incarcerated Parents

— Offered by Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Social Work —

About 4.6 million children live in homes with an unsecured firearm. About 300 children per year unintentionally kill or injure themselves or someone else. Firearms are the most lethal method for suicide attempts, resulting in death 85 percent of the time. Most gun-related suicides for children under age 17 are completed with unsecured guns found in the children's own homes.


This on-demand course provides professional development education for social workers and mental health care providers who want to teach safe gun practices to clients and community members. It is offered by the School of Social Work at the University of Arkansas.

Firearm safety is a public health issue, and mental health care providers are uniquely situated to engage their clients and help prevent injury and death. Most gun owners are responsible and committed to gun safety. However, they may still have questions about how to keep themselves and their families safe. A variety of clinical scenarios may be useful to engage with clients about firearms, especially when there is an increased risk of gun-related injury or death. Extra precaution should be taken in the house when there is a young child or a teenager who suffers from suicidal thoughts or depression, someone with a history of violence, or someone who suffers from a condition that results in an altered mental state, such as drug addiction or dementia.

Social workers find themselves on the front lines of gun violence, often working through trauma and grief with survivors and their families. However, little time is spent educating and training social work students or practitioners on safe gun practices. The non-profit, bi-partisan, grassroots organization "Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America" has developed a program for educating the public on safe gun practices called "Be SMART for Kids."

The Be SMART message is simple and direct and encourages open conversation about gun safety. Be SMART stands for making sure individuals:


S - Secure guns in your homes and vehicles

M - Model responsible behavior

A - Ask about unsecured guns in other homes

R - Recognize the risk of teen suicide

T - Tell your peers to be smart


In addition to learning about the Be SMART program, this workshop will explore ways to apply foundational skills and knowledge that all social workers possess to address gun safety with our clients and communities including: research; education; advocacy; mediation; facilitation; broker; and community change agent.


Access / Completion Time:
3 Months

Approximately 3 hours of online instruction

U of A 10% discount available - view details


Dr. Johanna Marie Thomas

Dr Johanna Marie Thomas

Assistant Professor, LMSW
School of Social Work
University of Arkansas