CHICAGO – (Dec. 19, 2012) As the nation continues to mourn
the children, teachers and school employees who lost their lives in Newtown,
Conn., the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is advocating for changes to
ensure children are safe in their schools and communities. The Academy’s 60,000 members have a heartfelt
desire to do everything possible to prevent a repeat of such tragedies.
In a letter
to President Obama issued Wednesday, AAP President Thomas K. McInerny, MD,
FAAP, called for new federal legislation that bans assault weapons sales and
the sale of high-capacity magazines, strengthens mandatory waiting periods and
background checks for all gun purchases, and promotes strict gun safety
policies. These measures are reflected in the AAP
policy statement on firearm injuries released in October. The AAP is also
calling for federal action to improve children’s access to mental health
services and support for children exposed to violence.
“We are ready to work with you … to honor the memory of the
children and families in Connecticut and those exposed to gun violence every
day through swift, bold action that keeps our children healthy and safe,”
In the past few days, the AAP has heard from many of its
members who are deeply saddened by the shooting and want to respond as strongly
and actively as possible to the tragedy. The AAP has identified concrete steps
its members can take to advocate for the improved safety and mental health of
infants, children, adolescents and young adults.
“As pediatricians, we believe that children deserve a safe
environment in which to grow and learn,” McInerny said. “These incidents are
always horrific, but the fact that young children were the victims in this case
makes us even more passionate about trying to prevent such tragedies in the future.”
The AAP urges parents who have concerns about how their
children are responding to the shooting to speak with their child’s
pediatrician. The AAP offers resources
for parents to talk to children about disasters, and advice on watching for
signs of stress and trauma. The AAP advises parents to ensure young
children are not exposed to extensive media coverage of the event.
See also How Pediatricians Can Advocate for Children's Safety in Their Communities.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary
care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical
specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants,
children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.