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Message regarding gun violence and safety in schools

Monday, March 19, 2018
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The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month was the latest in an unconscionable line of such tragedies in our nation’s recent history. The sheer number of victims and brazen invasion of what should be a safe place of growth and learning for our young people shocked us all. It is not lost on us, however, that gun violence claims 96 lives every day in the United States, and many of those deaths are not marked by cable news coverage or social media debate, but rather only by the quiet mourning of families and local communities.

Duke Children’s and the Department of Pediatrics stand in solidarity with all of our community partners, patients, and families who in this moment are seeking remedies to the epidemic of gun violence in our country without concern for protecting their own personal practices, preferences, and priorities. Although we are struggling to understand the complexities underlying such actions, the violent death of any child is fundamentally not a complex issue. There are no shades of gray in this--parents should never have to fear that their children will lose their lives to senseless gun violence. The clear need to act to prevent further deaths should not be obfuscated by the political posturing and gamesmanship of anyone.

There are no shades of gray in this--parents should never have to fear that their children will lose their lives to senseless gun violence.

As pediatricians, we are well-positioned to speak to the issue of gun violence and help drive sustained movement towards real solutions. We see the consequences of this violence in our emergency rooms, intensive care units, and clinics every day. We are also hard-wired to meet children and youth where they are, to learn their perspectives, to hear their voices, and to meet their needs. This allows us to see this problem through their eyes, and we know that they simply want to feel safe and whole again.

Our organization is comprised of a diverse group of clinicians and staff, holding a wide variety of personal perspectives on the issue of gun accessibility in our society. Although we may not agree on every detail, we agree that now is the time to act decisively and compassionately for the sake of our children.

Youth are in a unique position--they are able to see realities without the clouded perspectives of cynicism and conflicting interests. In this important moment we hear them speaking, and we see them acting. All of us, including our elected representatives, should listen and follow.

Ann M. Reed, MD
William Cleland, M.D.  Professor of Pediatrics
Chair, Department of Pediatrics
Physician-in-Chief, Duke Children’s

Richard J. Chung, MD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Associate Professor of Medicine
Division of Primary Care
Director, Adolescent Medicine

Debra L. Best, MD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Associate Professor in the Department of Community and Family Medicine
Director, Advocacy and Community Engagement (ACE) Leadership Committee