It is difficult to believe that a year has passed since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT last December 14. As with any national tragedy, all of us remember where we were at the moment we learned of this nightmare.
The AAP responded in the immediate aftermath of the event, expressing our grief and advising that children be shielded from 24/7 media coverage of the tragedy. We talked about resilience, but the truth is that no one—especially a child—should need to recover from something like this. So we, along with so many others across the nation, called for a united effort to prevent such an awful thing from happening in the future.
Unfortunately, the rate of children being killed with guns is as high as ever…about 7 a day. But the Newtown tragedy woke up the nation and invigorated us to continue to address that issue even more strongly. Though much work remains, some progress has been made.
The AAP is observing the upcoming anniversary with a respectful call to pediatricians, parents, policymakers and all who care for children to keep working to protect them from gun violence. We also will highlight examples of progress made in the last year, particularly at the state level.
A new video features several AAP members speaking from the heart about the tragedy of gun violence and why pediatricians feel strongly about addressing firearm safety. Additional video clips featuring several AAP members are available on the AAP YouTube channel.
The AAP advocates for stronger laws around the sale and safe storage of firearms. We ask for sustained funding for research about gun violence and media violence. We support the right of pediatricians to counsel families about firearm safety. And we renew the call to eliminate stigma associated with mental health, and to reduce barriers to mental health screening and treatment, especially for those who have been victims of violence.
Last December 14, I stated the simple truth on behalf of all pediatricians: Children deserve to feel safe wherever they live, play, and learn. This should not be too much to ask.
I encourage everyone who cares about children to use this anniversary as a time to think of how best to engage with your communities…engage with families…and engage with policymakers to help create a brighter picture in the coming months and years.
Thomas K. McInerny, MD, FAAP
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