As a pediatrician, I feel compelled to speak out about the alarming trend of mass shootings in our country. Not only do these tragic events lead to loss of life and cause widespread fear and anxiety, but they also significantly impact the health and well-being of our children.

Mass shootings in the United States have nearly doubled since 2018. Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for children and teenagers in the United States. Going to school, hanging out in the local mall, or attending a parade is no longer safe. The fear of classmates or family members getting hurt or killed by a random act of violence is legitimate and not far-fetched.

Children exposed to mass shootings, whether directly or indirectly, can experience a range of adverse physical and mental health effects. Studies have shown that children who witness or experience gun violence can experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety. They may also struggle with depression, behavioral problems, and academic difficulties. The Surgeon General and organizations like The American Academy of Pediatrics have declared a mental health crisis among our youth.

It’s time for us to stop talking and take action to prevent mass shootings and protect the health and well-being of our children. Mass shootings have reached epidemic proportions. We should address this violence by taking a concerted, multiprong approach that includes:

  • Instituting common sense gun legislation consisting of universal background checks, safe storage, and red flag laws; closing background check loopholes; restricting access to assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; and funding research on gun usage, prevention, and safety.
  • Creating public health policies that protect our children from gun violence.
  • Prioritizing funding for mental health services and programs that promote social-emotional learning and support for students who may be struggling with mental health issues.
  • Increasing access to mental health providers and reducing the stigma of seeking care.
  • Establishing safety measures in schools and public places to deter violent outbreaks.

By taking these steps, we can work towards a future where our children can feel safe and thrive in their communities. Instead of pointing fingers, let’s work together to create an environment where our children can learn, grow, and explore to reach their full potential.

We need to do all of these things and more – much more.