To my colleagues,
I am horrified. Horrified that 19 children and 2 adults were slaughtered in a place of nurturing, a place of growth. Horrified that at the end of their lives 2 teachers may have had the realization that they could not protect their students from the rapid fire of the assault weapon in front of them. Horrified that children were trapped in a room from which they would not escape. Horrified that the children and teachers that survived hid in terror until they could be safely evacuated.
For decades pediatricians here in New Jersey and across the country have advocated for measures to decrease firearm violence. We have counseled families about safe storage, about children mistaking a real loaded firearm for a toy, about the increased risk of successful suicide attempt when there is an accessible firearm in the home. We have met with legislators about the value of background checks and removing firearms from individuals who are a risk to themselves and others. We know from research and experience that there are interventions that reduce the risk of firearm injury and death in children.
The recent lifting of the ban on the use of Federal funding for firearm injury research will enable us to learn even more about risk and successful interventions. Yesterday, Wednesday, May 25, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Moira A. Szilagyi M. D., Ph. D. testified before Congress to ask for a greater investment in this research. If you are so inclined, now is a good time to contact your elected representatives in Congress to support funding of research and enactment of firearm violence reduction legislation.
The horror of the recent shootings in a school, a place of worship and a grocery store continue to reverberate across the nation. Children are worried, parents are worried, and pediatricians are worried.
We Pediatricians are continuing the work of supporting the children we serve, their families and our communities. We must also remember to take care of ourselves.
Here is a link to information for families about sharing information with and supporting their children.
Here is a link to the May 24 statement from AAP President Dr. Moira Szilagyi
Here is a link for physicians who want to reach out for confidential support.
Our children must have the opportunity to grow up in a world where they can feel safe and secure. Pediatricians will not accept anything less. Please join me in speaking up for those who still have their whole lives to live.
Jeanne Craft, MD, FAAP,
NJ Chapter, AAP