Connect with us


‘Devastated and Angered’: Pediatricians Are Fed Up With the Gun Violence Crisis Killing Our Kids



Among the most heartbreaking aspects of Monday’s mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee—which left three children and three adults dead—was the familiarity of it. Watching the news unfold, I was reminded of the day, less than a year ago, when 21 people were killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The updates that popped up on my phone screen caused the same mix of fear and rage to take over my thoughts.

Because of the regularity of gun violence in the US, some health authorities, including the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), refer to it as an “epidemic”—and for good reason: Nearly 50,000 people in the US died of gun violence in 2021, the latest year for which data is available, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Tragically, gun violence takes a massive toll on America’s young people. According to data from Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates for sensible gun laws, 4.6 million children live in homes where at least one gun is loaded and unlocked; approximately 3 million children witness gun violence each year; and the firearm suicide rate among children has skyrocketed by 66% within the last decade.

However alarming these stats might sound to those of us who don’t work with children, they are figures that America’s pediatricians are all too aware of. “Like almost every pediatrician I know, I’m despondent and want action,” Scott Hadland, MD, chief of adolescent medicine at Mass General Hospital and an associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, tells SELF. 

Lois Lee, MD, a senior associate in pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital and an associate professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School, echoes this feeling. “As a doctor—especially one who takes care of kids—I feel both devastated and angered,” Dr. Lee tells SELF.

Below, they weigh in on three consequences of America’s gun violence epidemic for children—and how these may continue to play out until sensible gun laws are passed.


Mass shootings leave long-lasting wounds, both physically and emotionally.

Gun violence is a unique public health problem in the way that it affects—and traumatizes—everyone, not just those who are harmed or killed by firearms, explains Dr. Lee, who authored the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) policy statement on gun violence. “Firearm deaths leave lasting emotional scars on families and communities in ways other diseases don’t,” she says.

Among other things, people who survive school shootings can experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder, depression, substance use disorders, and debilitating anxiety, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

There’s no telling when—or even if—these will ease as a child who’s experienced gun violence grows older, Dr. Hadland says: “I care for patients who were shot as children, but survived, and [they] live with lifelong injuries and emotional trauma.”

In the US, more children are dying by homicide and suicide.

Since 2017, guns have been responsible for more deaths among children than anything else, according to the AAP policy statement. Before that, car accidents were the leading cause. (For context: In 2021, gun violence killed more children than cancer and poisonings combined, according to Everytown.)

Source: Self


Follow us on Google News to get the latest Updates