AAP to Obama: Make Safety of Children a National Focus

AAP urges introduction of federal firearm laws, improved access to mental health services

THURSDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Responding to the Dec. 14 tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn., the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has expressed a willingness to work together with the government to ensure the health and safety of children, according to a letter written from the AAP to President Obama.

Thomas K. McInerny, M.D., president of the AAP, on behalf of the 62,000 AAP members, urged the President to place the health, safety, and well-being of children as the primary national focus required to prevent gun violence.

In the letter, the AAP expressed a willingness to work with the administration, Congress, and state governments to protect children. They suggest introduction of federal firearms legislation, including banning assault weapons and promoting strict gun safety policies. They urge the federal government to work toward improving access to the necessary services for the mental health and development of children and teenagers. In addition, children and families exposed to violence should have access to a medical home and community support. In every community, strengthened health systems should help foster childhood resilience and strong families. Finally, to reduce the detrimental exposure of children to violence, the AAP recommends that a national dialogue be established.

"As pediatricians, we believe that children deserve a safe environment in which to grow and learn," McInery said in a statement. "These incidents are always horrific, but the fact that young children were the victims in this case makes us even more passionate about trying to prevent such tragedies in the future."

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