The AAP Board of Directors

November 3, 2023

Members of the Academy:

As we write, pediatricians are experiencing collective grief and anguish over events taking place here in the US and overseas.

Just last week, a pediatrician and active AAP member, Dr. Talat Jehan Khan, was murdered while sitting on a picnic bench outside of where she lived in Houston. And another devastating act of gun violence shook the community of Lewiston, Maine, last week, killing 18 people, including a 14-year-old child who was bowling with his father, who was also killed.

And the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and unfolding violence, suffering and death continue to weigh on all of us.  

We have heard from many members over the past few weeks, expressing outrage at the Hamas terrorist attack that left 1,400+ dead in Israel, the brutal details of which continue to emerge, and that also leaves 240 Israeli hostages held captive in Gaza, including infants, toddlers and children.  

We have also heard from members expressing deep concern for the staggering loss of life – more than 7,000 Palestinians including nearly 3,000 children – in Gaza as the dire conditions on the ground continue to worsen for children and families with nowhere to turn. 

And events unfolding here in the United States – acts of violence, threats, and intimidation targeting individuals because they are Jewish or Muslim, or because they have ties to Israel or Palestine – have left our members shaken and angry. A six-year-old boy, Wadea Al-Fayoume, was murdered in Illinois last month and his mother gravely injured, targeted because of their Muslim faith. Jewish students on college campuses across the country are experiencing rampant, and in some cases, violent, increases in antisemitism. And the list goes on. 

These horrific events have led us as the AAP Board of Directors to re-examine the Academy’s policy statement, “The Effects of Armed Conflict on Children,” which was due to be updated this year as part of our standard five-year review process. What we determined is that our policy is missing important elements to make clear that atrocities against children are never acceptable. We have directed that the policy statement be revised to include the following:

  • Children should never be harmed because of the religious, cultural, and other beliefs and values of the child and/or their family.
  • Harm to children should never be used as a tool or tactic of war or conflict.
  • Children should be protected from the direct effects of armed conflicts and their food, housing, health and other basic needs should be safeguarded. 

We voted unanimously on Friday to enact these updates. Meanwhile, the multi-disciplinary group of authors will work on a more comprehensive review and update of the policy statement to be published in Pediatrics. That policy statement will include these new elements, but we believe it is essential that we state these positions now.

We will end this update with some good news: AAP member and pediatrician Dr. Barb Zind has been successfully evacuated from Gaza, where she was working as part of a medical mission when the war broke out, and she is on her way home to Colorado. We hold her family and community in our thoughts and share their relief and gratitude for her safe return.  

We recognize the complexity and magnitude of suffering right now and how heavy it feels to work in pediatrics, with so many children hurting here and abroad. It will always be our mission at AAP to advocate for children’s protection, health and safety, no matter what, no matter where. That mission feels especially essential in this moment.  


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