Latest News- 5/25/22
What Can We Actually Do?
Frederick County Pediatrics is heartbroken by the news of yet another school shooting. All mass shootings and acts of violence are horrendous, yet the news of elementary students being killed has shaken us to the core. Our hearts have been broken again and again. We have posted "How to Talk to Your Children about Tragedies in the News" more times that we want to count. We are here asking, what can be done? Something must be done.
As a practice entrusted to take care of children in this community, including many of us who have our own children attending our local schools, we are not standing silent any longer. We are committing to a call to action. But what action? We are first calling ourselves to account. Are we doing everything we can? Does our community offer access to support services, including mental health providers, financial aid, school supports, innovative programs, etc. And finally, as parents and citizens, what can we do?
This event will be politicized and fingers will be pointed. Tears will be shed and "thoughts and prayers" will be offered. Then what? Do we continue to accept this as part of our daily lives? Is there actually anything that can be done? We do not have the answers, but are looking to those who are making good-faith efforts to research solutions that are not one-sided politically.
Our colleges at CHOP and the AAP have provided us with guidance. CHOP is Children's Hospital of Philadelphia that has a Center for Violence Prevention. They have been researching, analyzing and acting for years. This article and others on their website are a place to start.
We cannot ignore the fact that school shootings involve guns. Yes, this is a controversial topic. Politicians use it to polarize us. We let it happen. We are issuing a call to move past the rhetoric, past the "us vs. them" view, and past the inability to speak to our neighbors and family members about it. There is something broken. We as parents and community members must stand up and demand that a sensible approach be taken to curb these senseless acts of violence. We are ALL affected by these tragedies and it could happen here. CHOP has matter of fact information on this topic with recommended policy approaches.
The sad reality is that school shootings are the least common types of gun violence. The American Academy of Pediatrics has also been researching and advocating for policy changes. We follow their guidelines. We ask parents about guns in homes and safe storage. Parents, let's be OK with talking about gun safety. Let's move past how uncomfortable this can be to talk about and find ways to make changes. Read more about the AAP's recommendations here.
We also routinely screen all patients for depression and anxiety starting at 11. If you think your child is struggling, regardless of their age, we are here. We have integrated behavioral health services. We can also provide information on other local referrals. Please do what you can, practice self-care and reach out to us. Let's join together and start to act. We will post more as we learn more.
Finally, learn how to contact your elected officials to advocate they adopt the AAP policy recommendations here
Interested in a FREE CE COURSE- click the link below for more information!
Disaster Mental Health: How to Help in the Aftermath of a Tragedy (Ep. 43)
National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Child Mind Institute
Sesame Street in Communities
National Public Radio (NPR)
Book for Young Children from Piplo Productions (free PDF version)