By: Colleen Kraft, MD, MBA, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics
May 21, 2018
"Today, instead of looking forward to high school graduation, the end of the school year and the summer ahead, the students of Santa Fe High School in Texas are mourning the deaths of 10 classmates and teachers, and the injuries to 13 people, after a gun rampage by a fellow student on May 18. It is barely three months since 17 children and adults were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
"As pediatricians, we mourn the senseless deaths of all, especially children and young people, from gun violence. We are inspired by the advocacy of students who are pushing for change. And we demand that Congress wait no longer to take action. They cannot fail; our children's lives are at stake.
"Every day on average, 12 children, teens and young adults are killed by guns in the U.S., and 66 are injured, according to CDC data. This is a public health epidemic unlike any other. Children are dying from suicide, homicide and unintentional injury every day because of the current policy regarding access to guns in the United States. We must find common ground now, and we must work together to advance meaningful legislation that keeps children safe.
"The American Academy of Pediatrics advocates for stronger state and federal gun laws that protect children. We call for stronger background checks, solutions addressing firearm trafficking, and encouraging safe firearm storage. We call for funds for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to better study firearm-related death and injury so we can prevent tragedies like this in the future. We will also continue to work to ensure that children and their families have access to appropriate mental health services, particularly to address the effects of exposure to violence.
"In two weeks, on June 2, we will observe National Gun Violence Awareness Day, when pediatricians, parents, students and others will wear orange clothing to demonstrate their support for gun violence prevention. Let's make this more than a symbolic gesture. Let's make this the start of meaningful progress to save the lives of children in every community in this country. As long as gun violence remains a public health threat to children, pediatricians will not rest in our pursuit to keep them safe."
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 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 and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.